Sunday, June 16

Finding a rhythm: Lisa McCune is the mother of a teenage son and a capable, dedicated practitioner in <i>Reef Doctors</i>.
Finding a rhythm: Lisa McCune is the mother of a teenage son and a capable, dedicated practitioner in Reef Doctors.


Reef Doctors, Ten, 6.30pm

Last week's first episode of this Australian-German series established the elements that make Reef Doctors as an attractive proposition, with a tropical setting, a cast of colourful characters, possibilities for romance and conflict, and an array of exotic native critters. At the show's centre is Dr Sam Stewart (Lisa McCune), the mother of a teenage son and a capable, dedicated and briskly efficient practitioner. It also helps that she looks cute in shorts. The opener, introducing a raft of characters working at the medical clinic and living on picturesque Hope Island, was a bit clunky. But by this second outing, it's finding a more fluid rhythm. However, this viewer could happily live without the CSI-style slow-mo close-ups of various animals expelling venom.

The Time of Our Lives, ABC1, 8.30pm

Our TV industry's love affair with the domestic drama continues with this 13-part series. Written by Judi McCrossin and produced by Amanda Higgs, who worked together on The Secret Life of Us, it deftly introduces the immediately engaging Tivolli family, whose tangled relationships are set to rival those of Offspring's Proudman clan. The well-structured opening episode takes us through a wedding, an affecting dance sequence, declarations of love and indications of love lost as it presents a range of the key characters. It also offers another standout ensemble cast — including Stephen Curry, Claudia Karvan, Justine Clarke, Shane Jacobson and William McInnes. And McCrossin's acutely observed, funny and at times wonderfully moving opener sets up the series in fine style.

Sunday Arts Up Late: William Yang — My Generatio, ABC1, 10.25pm

Architecture graduate William Yang arrived in Sydney in 1969, fell in love with ''sexy and alluring'' Bondi Beach and started taking photographs. He became part of a lively community of artists and theatre folk and his work started to reflect that crowd and its activities. In earnest and precise style, Yang presents this chronology of his life and work, and his heady days at the centre of Sydney's arts scene. Described as a society photographer and multimedia artist, he says simply, ''Now I call myself a storyteller.''



The Marty Stuart Show, CMC, 7pm
Is today’s country music too slick and commercial for your taste? Then mosey on down to the The Marty Stuart Show, where the past is alive and kicking. Marty Stuart, he of the blow-dried silver mullet and the penchant for hot-pink cravats, is old-school country through and through. Stuart and his house band, the Fabulous Superlatives, share the stage with guests of the calibre of Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Keith Urban. His wife, country legend Connie Smith (who, at 71, is 17 years her husband’s senior), is always on hand to provide heartfelt renditions of such tunes as If God Is Dead (Who’s This Living in My Soul?).

Chosen, FX, 4.30pm
An action-packed and slightly silly mini-series in which Milo Ventimiglia stars as  LA lawyer Ian, who one morning is greeted at his front door by a strange package and a hail of bullets. Turns out he has been chosen to murder a particular person. If he doesn’t, his wife (Australian Nicky Whelan) and daughter will be killed instead.



Galaxy Quest (1999), Eleven, 8.30pm
Taking a rich bite out of the original Star Trek’s strange afterlife, Galaxy Quest is an absurdly appealing comedy that mines the conventions of science-fiction and the egos of actors. Eighteen years after their futuristic series Galaxy Quest was canceled, the show’s stars live in a netherworld of fan conventions and paid appearances. When aliens, who have picked up the show’s transmission and believe them to be real, abduct the fictional captain Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) and  his crew, the fictional lives they blame for their unhappy situations come to life. The naive Thermians, being pursued by a militant insectoid and its army, expect the actors to use the working replica of their model ship they’ve built, but the real fun is in the expectations of the cast members. A tipsy Nesmith blithely fails to understand what is happening at first, while Alan Rickman summons all his dry sarcasm to play a classical actor typecast as a Spock-like officer.

Walk the Line (2005), M Drama/Romance (payTV), 4.20pm
James Mangold’s biopic of Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) bears no small resemblance to Taylor Hackford’s Ray, the previous year’s self-satisfied biography of a musical great. Both share a broad outline: a childhood mired in poverty, the tragic death of a brother, the struggle to harness creativity, an intoxicating rise to fame, divorce and a struggle with narcotic addiction. In Cash’s case there’s also an abusive father (Robert Patrick), whose drunken rage feels like a facsimile from a dozen other movies. We get the acceptable scenes of torment — the trashed dressing rooms, the police bust, the dinner-table meltdown and the willing groupies, but there’s a lack of context. Cash’s long-time band are mere ciphers, and it’s hard to understand why he so ardently pursues his first wife, Vivian (Ginnifer Goodwin), when he drifts away with so little effort once they’re married. But Reese Witherspoon is purposeful as the singer June Carter, who Cash eventually married.


This story Sunday, June 16 first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.