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Mark Peters

 

As you read this I will be celebrating the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ by stuffing myself silly with a chocolate egg or three, courtesy of the Easter Bunny, of course. I have always pictured this treat-bearing animal to be a close cousin of Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit, as opposed to, say, the oversized fiend from Donnie Darko; but either way, I doubt he'll be hopping crazy enough to make it onto Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan (above; TVB Pearl, Thursday at 9.05pm). After being Lost for so long (hint: think American television series; this stuff doesn't come easy, folks!), the former hobbit has now taken to creeping through dark and dingy corners of the planet in order to prod and poke the sort of things you'd avoid on a day trip to Mordor. And while nature's marvels never cease to amaze, it's the presenter who really pulls you in on this show. Monaghan is funny and down to earth, combining the energy and enthusiasm of the late Steve Irwin with the charm of David Attenborough, and he brings a freshness to the format as he explores the world of dangerous creepy-crawlies.

If you're not a fan of bugs, snakes and spiders, of course, this is likely to be another of those "why the hell would you go in there with all those stingy bitey things, you nutter?" shows. Even for the less squeamish, it's the stuff of sweaty palms. But whether he's in Laos, Namibia or Venezuela, disturbing the peace of huntsman spiders, army ants or a deadly monocled cobra, Monaghan is a real-life hands-on adventurer. We're not sure the cameraman was as enthralled, though: at one point Dom "encourages" a Brazilian wandering spider - the most venomous in the world and an arachnid which, if it doesn't kill you, can induce an immensely painful and long-lasting erection - to hurtle towards the rather startled lensman. Boys will be boys.

Another wild beast hitting our screens this week is Bukowski-esque novelist Hank Moody (David Duchovny, The X-Files), as the dark and debauched comedy-drama Californication returns for a sixth season (below; FX, tomorrow at 11.30pm). The first episode takes a surprising turn, with Hank entering rehab; but instead of wrestling inner demons he ends up bedding yet another beautiful woman. That's the guilty pleasure of Californication, though - we get to sit back and observe a lifestyle of excess and depravity while secretly wishing we could live it ourselves.

As in previous seasons, there is a revolving cast of guest stars (Maggie Grace of Lost plays groupie Faith; Australian comedian Tim Minchin appears as hedonistic rock star Atticus Fetch) but the storylines remain the same. The storm clouds are brewing over our glorious screw-up and despite his continued comedic bromance with Charlie (Evan Handler; Sex and the City), Hank - deep down a good guy - has far too many self-destructive urges and we know the sunny days are not going to last.

If Hank's decadence isn't enough to scare the pants off you, then maybe you'll enjoy the second season of schlock screamfest American Horror Story (FX, Thursday at 11pm), which is subtitled Asylum and throws us back to 1964 to recount the ghastly stories of the occupants of the Briarcliff Mental Institution.

Now officially an "anthology series" - with different stories and characters in each episode - we can be grateful that the wonderful Jessica Lange, playing sanitarium director Sister Jude, remains a fixture. And the drama continues at the same breakneck speed reached in season one, which somehow managed to cram in every conceivable horror. Dominic Monaghan is doubtless a huge fan.

 

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