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http://www.lawyers.com.au/legal-articles/2011/3/17/critics-view-sunday-march-20/

Critic's view - Sunday, March 20

The Age

Thursday March 17, 2011

NICK GALVIN, FRANCES ATKINSON

Human Planet: ArcticABC1, 7.30pmIF THE other programs live up to this stunning opener, the rest of this BBC documentary series will be unmissable. Each of the seven episodes looks at man's relationship with the environment in different regions. None of those regions is more brutal than the Arctic, home to 4 million people and subject of this program, which follows the fortunes of the Inuit and Nenet hunters of Greenland for a year. From the breathtaking cinematography to John Hurt's sonorous narration and the stunning musical score, there are so many reasons to enjoy this program.Casino Jack and the United States of MoneySBS One, 9.30pmTHIS is a compelling journey down the rabbit hole of US conservative politics where nothing is as it seems and money doesn't talk, it swears. "Casino" Jack Abramoff is the self-styled "super lobbyist" whose trajectory through the corridors of power and influence (which eventually led him to a Maryland jail) is an allegory for all that is wrong with the best democracy money can buy. Abramoff oozes through his various schemes involving Indian casinos, Chinese sweatshops and Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, fuelled by a warped sense of right-wing "principles" in tandem with what appears to be a moral lobotomy. According to one former associate, Abramoff could "sweet-talk a dog off a meat truck", a skill he shamelessly puts to use time and time again to charm cash from everyone who crosses his path. The key question that remains unanswered throughout this whole sordid tale of greed, corruption and mendacity is asked early on by the narrator: "Has it always been like this or has something changed?" If this is an aberration that can be corrected, there is at least some hope. If it has ever been thus, and is just more prevalent now, then maybe the US really is writing the script of its own destruction.Harry's LawChannel Nine, 9.30pmHMMM. Another series about an offbeat lawyer with offbeat clients solving cases in an ... er ... offbeat way. Yes, you've seen it all before but before dismissing Harry's Law completely it's worth noting that, surprisingly, it's rather good. And the prime reason is Kathy Bates, who plays the eponymous Harry (Harriet, by rights), proprietor of a storefront criminal law practice. Bates, who first came to attention in Misery as the psycho nurse with an unorthodox approach to orthopedic surgery, steals pretty much every scene she is in. Sassy, intelligent and compassionate, she does a particularly good line in Matthau-esque hangdog expressions. The moral dilemma set-up of this episode (innocent prisoner has to admit guilt to obtain his release) is neat and Christopher McDonald's oleaginous plaintiff lawyer is a nice counterpoint to Bates's bleeding heart. NICK GALVINMidsomer MurdersABC1, 8.30pmANOTHER manicured garden, another stately manor providing the backdrop to another ghastly murder. This time Zoe Stock, a promising pianist on a music camp, witnesses the drowning of a young woman. Make way for your standard cast of English characters: a suspicious-acting reverend, a rich pretty boy, his pushy stage mother and two machiavellian middle-aged sisters who were involved in a similar case 18 years ago. What follows isn't especially gripping (the butler didn't do it) but there's a solid, if not downright unpleasant, performance by James Fox (Remains of the Day) as internationally successful musician Sir Michael Fielding. Newcomer Lydia Wilson as Zoe, the English rose under attack, is the face to watch. Fans take note this is the fourth-last time you'll see John Nettles play the affable and unflappable DCI Barnaby. FRANCES ATKINSON

© 2011 The Age

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