Channel hop

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 August, 2011, 12:00am


She's been called a punk, a fashion icon and a visionary; now we can add travel-show host to the list. In Vivienne Westwood's London (right, TVB Pearl; Monday at 9.30pm), you won't see Big Ben or Westminster Abbey, or join a Thames river cruise - that's for drips. The 70-year-old fashion designer has always done things differently and she isn't about to turn conventional for this one-off exploration of her city.

Westwood is a champion of the arts and, luckily for us, there were quite a few museums and galleries willing to open their doors after-hours for the dame. Expounding on the brilliance of 18th-century painter Jean-Honore Fragonard at The Wallace Collection, Westwood quips: 'The man could do anything; it was said that he could paint with his a***hole.' That's just the beginning of Westwood's free-style and passionate - though not necessarily historically accurate - take on London's brimming coffers of history and culture.

Westwood guides us through a pre-riot Clapham, where she's lived for more than 30 years, and takes us to Whitechapel, where her model-turned-author friend Sara Stockbridge tells of the exploits of Jack the Ripper. Then it's off to the Barbican, to watch the London Symphony Orchestra rehearse. Chatting with conductor Valery Gergiev about the experiential gap between recorded and live music, Westwood declares: 'For me, it's the difference between watching porn and doing it.'

There is no end to Westwood's vivacity, which colours this refreshingly mixed view of high- and low-brow London. There are times when the school teacher in her peeks out from under the eclectic outfits and flame-coloured hair, such as when Westwood explains her reason for playing tour guide: 'You get back what you put in in life. In the pursuit of art, you will discover the genius of the human race and you will start to understand the world you live in, and it will give you purpose in life.'

Who can argue with that?

As Westwood may or may not tell you, the cape is a serious fashion faux pas. It is also the name of a series (Syfy; Mondays at 10.50pm) that follows fictional Palm City, California, detective Vince Faraday (David Lyons; Sea Patrol) as he falls prey to his city's corrupt police force and the machinations of a mysterious businessman, Peter Fleming (James Frain; True Blood). Framed for murder and left for dead, Faraday is 'adopted' by a circus troupe, and burns with the desire to clear his name and reunite with his family. To that end, Faraday decides to exact justice in disguise. Conveniently, he finds an old cape lying around at the circus and decides to dress up as the hero of a comic book he and his son used as bedtime reading. A superhero is born.

There are problems with the pilot episode of The Cape - namely, that it's dated and shoddy storytelling. It rushes through Faraday's backstory as a loving husband and father, and the lone honest member of a rotting police force. The introduction of Fleming and his evil alter ego, Chess, is short-handed, as is the description of the betrayal of Faraday's best friend. A cut-and-paste montage of cliched dialogue ending with the evil laughter of the arch-villain may have worked for classic superhero comic introductions, but with many big-screen adaptations having reinvented the genre, The Cape falls way short of originality. This superhero series' timing, like its humour, is off by a mile.

Finally, Nature's Deadliest (Animal Planet, Thursdays at 10pm) shows us some of the world's sharpest fangs and deadliest bites, from the tiniest of parasites to the largest of predators. Starting in Australia - home to the highest concentration of poisonous creatures - the series explores the weaponry and defence skills of the wild.