HDTV Heads-Up: June 16-22
TV One at last is getting with the HD programme and will roll out six new series in 1080i starting the week of June 16.
The same week it will screen another movie-length NZ drama in HD and resume thrice-weekly screenings of Coronation Street, albeit still in SD.
Not surprisingly, this BBC award-winner from the creators of Friends starring ex-Friend Matt LeBlanc as “himself” — an egotistical actor who’s cast in an Americanised version of a British comedy — has been deemed too sophisticated for a plum slot and will air 10.10pm Thursdays from June 21.
Hopefully, having made us wait so long for these episodes, TV One will run the first series back-to-back with the second.
The same week TV One will add a Saturday night edition of Coronation Street to build momentum towards the 50th anniversary tram wreck special and close some of the escalating gap between NZ and UK transmissions (at last count, 20 months).
The Saturday night strategy is risky, given it’s among the week’s least-watched nights and serials, with their continuing storylines, work best stripped across weeknights.
Indeed, when TV One last experimented with a Saturday night slot for the soap, in the mid-’90s, ratings slumped.
While it will be an extra instalment for fans of a staple that’s been poorly treated by TVNZ over the past 10 years, it’s yet another missed opportunity to exploit heightened interest in the soap: why not use these historic episodes to launch Coro St in HD?
We can only hope the strategy does lift viewership enough to persuade the broadcaster to start screening the NZ TV institution in 1080i, as ITV has done since mid-2010.
The 7.30pm Saturday episode will launch a new look on TV One that includes a new HD vehicle for the one-time “Mother of the Nation”, Judy Bailey’s Australia, in which the former news anchor tours the back roads of Oz, and the return of The Chawners’ Last Chance (mercifully in SD).
On Sunday, at 7pm, TV One will premiere in HD Planet Dinosaur, a BBC series that’s billed as “a completely immersive visual experience studded with curious facts, jaw-dropping action and charismatic monsters whose discovery entailed a re-write of the prehistory books”.
And at 8.30pm it will debut Siege, an HD dramatisation of how Napier gunman Jan Molenaar killed one policeman and critically injured two others and a member of the public over three days in 2009.
From Tuesday of that week, TV One will screen reality newcomer Highway Cops at 8.00 and will end the week with the 8.30 Friday HD premiere of the Inspector Morse prequel, Endeavour, which follows the Oxford sleuth’s early days on the force as a constable.
Other HD highlights for the week of June 16-22 include:
❑ The launch of a new South Pacific Pictures comedy, Golden, about a one-time Olympics golden girl struggling to get back into shape (TV3, 7.00).
❑ Re-runs of of the movies Australia on Sunday (TV3, 8.30) and X-Men on Monday (TV3, 8.30).
❑ Ben Hurley searching for his Funny Roots in Northern Ireland (TV3, 8.00).
❑ Oscar Kightley visiting Burma/Myanmar in Tuesday’s Intrepid Journeys (TV One, 8.30).
❑ Leonard Nimoy guest starring on Wednesday’s The Big Bang Theory (TV2, 8.30).
❑ The return of Bones on Thursday (TV3, 8.30) — the same night season four of The Unit belatedly bows in HD and only a week ahead of its SD season of Sky’s The Box (TV3, 11.45).
❑ The season finale of The Vampire Diaires on Friday (TV3, 11.00).