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Channel hop

Mark Peters

 

 

There are so many travelogue and adventure shows on television these days you can trek to virtually any place on God's green Earth without ever having to leave the comfort of your sofa. Sure, it would be far more exciting and rewarding to physically go to these wonderful and exotic places, but few of us have the time or resources to take more than five, maybe six holidays a year. Oh, first-world problems are such a drag!

Thankfully, there are plenty of passionate, intrepid folk willing to selflessly traverse the globe for our entertainment. One of those charitable and engaging souls is Scottish comedian Billy Connolly (above). No stranger to worldwide expeditions, the Big Yin turns Easy Rider as he pulls on his leather jacket and fulfils a lifelong dream of following the iconic Route 66 on the back of a motorcycle ( Billy Connolly's Route 66, BBC Knowledge, Tuesday at 8.55pm). Beginning the epic 4,000-kilometre road trip in the windy city of Chicago, destination Santa Monica, the veteran performer's genuine zest for adventure, resplendent with his trademark cackling laughter, is both obvious and infectious. The problem with watching a long-distance trip, though, is we only get a few brief moments at every stop, before it's time once again to hit the road and open up the throttle. Of course, the focus is on the nomadic journey, the free spirit, the wind in the slightly-less-magnificent-than-it-once-was hair, and it's certainly made all the more engaging by Connolly's charm and wit, but it's the reflective moments of human interaction, as in tornado-battered St Louis, that cry out to be explored more deeply. I'm not sure whether I did, but Connolly certainly got his kicks on Route 66.

From a slice of Americana to the post-apocalyptic aftermath of an alien invasion (hey, you find the clever link); Falling Skies begins its second season with a bang this week, with a faster-paced premiere Worlds Apart (TVB Pearl, tomorrow at 8.30pm). Three months have passed since Tom (Noah Wyle, ER), unlikely leader of civilian resistance group 2nd Mass, agreed to go with the alien invaders in order to gather intel and keep his sons safe from harm. Now he has been released unscathed, can Tom really be trusted by his crew as they fight to live another day?

What it lacks in storytelling and character development Falling Skies makes up for with aliens and action; and, just occasionally, that's all you need to get you through a Monday evening.

Moving on from a bunch of tyrannical megalomaniacs hell bent on taking over the world to American politicians (happy now?), it's the welcome return of the profanity-laden satire Veep (HBO, tomorrow at 10pm). Continuing its mockery of the exaggeratedly (or is it?) incompetent United States administration, the show's Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Seinfeld) has risen in the polls, despite a disastrous mid-term election, bringing the vice-president closer to her boss.

Revelling in the trivial pettiness and absurdity of politics, the polar opposite to The West Wing's serious posturing, the writers of Veep have vastly improved on an already impressive first season. This is a comedy so smart you could backcomb its hair and call it Albert.

 

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