Monday, July 23

FREE TO AIR

Louie, ABC2, 10.05pm

THERE'S something special about a comic who can open a stand-up routine by imagining his daughters have been abducted by a child molester and conclude it by urging everyone to be nicer to paedophiles. (He has his reasons.) But that's Louis CK. Simultaneously brutal and vulnerable, it kind of sums up his work. He's prepared to go where few comedians dare to tread - from the grotesque to the plain wrong - but along with his evident intelligence, there's a kind of truth to his eccentric imaginings. Tonight, after dispatching the matter of paedophiles, he takes a trip to the world's most caring (and most perverse) dentist, has a conversation with Osama bin Laden, develops an inappropriate crush on a checkout chick, and concludes by making a series of gags about blacks and Jews. In other words, business as usual for Louis CK.

Revenge: final, Channel Seven, 8.30pm

IF ANY more proof were needed that television is the place for great female roles, Revenge is it. As this fabulous series concludes (don't worry, there will be a second season), it's all about the ladies. About Emily/Amanda (Emily VanCamp), of course, whose passion, cunning, intelligence and, occasionally, kick-ass martial arts skills have driven the action. About her nemesis, Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe), who tonight has a fabulous ''final word'' with her husband and son's fiancee. Special mention must go to sweet geek Nolan (Gabriel Mann), the moral compass of the story and the quiet power behind the throne, who tonight has more than his share of the action.

Raising Hope, Channel Eleven, 8pm

I LOVE this sweet comedy most when the focus is on the ordinary lives of the Chance family, less so when it's a ''special'' episode. Tonight it's one of the latter: a trashy true-crime show - Inside Probe - has chosen the family for a special investigation, what with their links to a serial killer. The spoof does have its moment (I did like the lame animated re-enactments), but in a show that's always pretty broad, the comedy in those segments is almost horizontal. The real fun is in the incidental domestic action (the family's special-occasion food is hilarious). Raising Hope's creator, Greg Garcia, always brings a real warmth to proceedings.

Tribal Wives: Ethiopia, ABC2, 8.35pm

SOME of the episodes in this series have been a bit perfunctory: a voyeuristic look at the funny natives while the overachieving Brit remains largely unchanged by the experience. But tonight's concluding instalment is full of interest. For a start, our OAB is in Ethiopia, a place that for a generation of Westerners is associated chiefly with crushing famine. So what a delight it is to find a village where the residents are certainly living a tough life but are full of joie de vivre and cheek. They're keenly interested in caring for their visitor but having just as much fun taking the mickey (''She sounds like a goat!'', ''What? Don't they have grinding stones where she comes from?''). And Anna, the interloper, seems genuinely interested in changing her life and in using this alien experience to reassess her choices and priorities. Satisfying.

MELINDA HOUSTON


PAY TV

BP and the Oil Spill, History, 9.30pm

A LOT of people are queueing up to put the boots into BP in this documentary about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill: a worker who survived the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, lawyers, environmentalists, fishermen and even Shell's former American boss John Hofmeister. And their criticism is not limited to the failings that resulted in the blast that killed 11 workers and spilt 780,000 cubic metres of oil into the gulf; there are also allegations that BP's use of a toxic oil dispersant exacerbated the environmental damage and poses risks to human health. This documentary, made for German public broadcaster WDR, provides a good overview of the issues, although it seems clear that a thorough examination of it all would require many more hours of screen time.

You Deserve This House, LifeStyle, 7.30pm

A LOVELY little program in which Brits who work hard to help others are rewarded with surprise home makeovers by the people they have helped. Tonight, it is Special Olympics coach Jane, who spends 80 hours a week training children in rhythmic gymnastics and providing respite care for their parents. The show crams in a lot - from Jane's story to those of the children and parents she has helped, to tips on how to do the makeover stuff yourself. The sight of Jane, the children and the parents at the big reveal is a delight.

Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, BBC Knowledge, 9.35pm

A compelling documentary in which Stephen Fry, who suffers from bipolar disorder, sets out to see how the condition has affected other people.

Inside the Actors Studio: Hugh Laurie, Bio, 8.30pm

Horizon: Why Do Viruses Kill?, BBC Knowledge, 8.35pm

BRAD NEWSOME


MOVIES

Total Recall (1990), 7mate, 9.30pm

BASED on We Can Remember It for You Wholesale by the legendary Philip K. Dick (another of his short stories inspired Blade Runner), Paul Verhoeven's classic sci-fi movie takes us to 2084. Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is happily married but otherwise bored with life. He decides to take a trip to Mars via a memory implanted in his brain. But Quaid has been to that planet before and all hell breaks loose. Despite the metaphysical conundrums intriguing Dick - What is reality? Are memories real? - Total Recall is a fairly low-rent B-movie with the aspirations of a joky Saturday afternoon movie serial. But there's plenty of fun along the way in seeing how many predictions have come true (wall televisions, X-ray security screens) and what hasn't (almost everything else). Today, this looks more like a representation of the past (all that concrete brutalism) than the future.

Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stopped Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), TCM (pay TV), 8.30pm

ONE of the great Cold War political satires, thanks to inspired direction by Stanley Kubrick, a superlative cast and incendiary writing from Terry Southern.

SCOTT MURRAY

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