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TV picks of the week

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The good folk at TV Guide have scoured the television schedule to cherry-pick the best free-to-air viewing of the week. There's fluff, there's fun, there's information and entertainment. Enjoy, and add your own recommendations in the comments section.

 

Monday December 17

Finding Mercy

TV1, 9.30pm

Zimbabwean-born Kiwi-based mother and film-maker Robyn Paterson has lost touch with childhood friend, Mercy, and desperately wants to find her. Blonde-haired Robyn and dark-skinned Mercy were inseparable since meeting at preschool. But at age 12, Robyn moved to New Zealand with her family. She kept in touch with Mercy for the next seven years but their communication petered out. In her early 30s, Robyn wants to re-connect with Mercy but can't find her on the internet.  None of her old Zimbabwean school friends know where Mercy is either. Taking a big risk in terms of her safety, Robyn travels back to her African homeland hoping to find Mercy. She's accompanied by a cameraman who poses as her boyfriend and the pair secretly film what unfolds. The result is a very personal and moving documentary in which Robyn is director and narrator.

Tuesday December 18

Rick Stein's Spanish Christmas

Prime,8.30pm

Stuck for ideas about what to cook the extended family on Christmas Day? How about something Spanish? Anyone for lamb stuffed aubergines with moorish spices? How about chicken with saffron and pine nuts? In this one-off cooking show, celebrated British chef Rick Stein goes all Mediterranean on us when he whips up Spanish-inspired dishes for a Christmas party in London. Special guests include British-based Spanish chef Jose Pizarro who lends a hand preparing the festive fare.

Wednesday December 19

Queer Eye For The Straight Guy

TV3, 4pm

Yes we've seen this American reality series before but what's not to love about five charismatic gay men who makeover a straight man? In each episode, everything from the subject's home décor to his dress sense is given a great big fat overhaul thanks to the efforts of Ted, Jai, Carson, Thom and Kyan. Even if you don't necessarily agree with the advice dished out by the 'fab five', this fast-paced show has plenty of humour and heart. The heterosexual in need of help in today's episode is Lee Fair, a foster father of 10 children.

Thursday December 20

A Night At The Classic

TV1,10pm

Kiwi comedian and dad Brendhan Lovegrove plays an exaggerated and not particularly likeable version of himself in this mockumentary series set in an Auckland comedy club. If you didn't see the first series, then take a look at the second in which fame-hungry Brendhan alternates between slagging off and sucking up to visiting comedians who come to the club to perform stand-up routines. Tonight's guest comedians include Justine Smith and Andrew Clay. Just make sure the kids are tucked up in bed fast asleep as the language has a tendency to be a little on the crass side.

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Friday December 21

The Real Housewives Of New York City

TV3, 3pm

Arguably there's nothing particularly 'housewifely' about a group of wealthy and well-dressed women from the Big Apple who like to bicker, shop, socialise and then bicker some more. But nevertheless, this reality series about a group New York socialites is entertaining if only because it provides some escapism for those of us at home with small children, limited budgets and living rooms littered with toys. In today's episode Jill is back from a trip to Australia and catches up with her friends. Or should that be castmates? Let the bickering begin.

Saturday December 22

Web Therapy

Choice TV,8pm

Since the hit comedy Friends ended, its ensemble cast have experienced varying degrees of success. While Jennifer Aniston (Rachel) became an A-list movie actress and Courteney Cox (Monica) went on to star in Cougar Town, things have been a bit up and down for Lisa Kudrow who played kooky Phoebe. But the actress seems to have finally found her feet in Web Therapy a dark comedy in which she plays self-interested therapist Fiona Wallice, a woman who sees her clients via three-minute sessions conducted via webcam.  The show started out as an internet series and has featured big name guest stars such as Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin and Jane Lynch.

In series two, currently screening on ChoiceTV, Fiona is facing a couple of criminal investigations and her marriage is just about over. Hmmm. Maybe she should see a shrink.

Sunday December 23

Joanna Lumley's Greek Odyssey

TV1,7.30pm

The beautiful and well-spoken Joanna Lumley has, in the past few years become one of those adventurous types who visits exotic and interesting locations to make documentaries. We've seen her set foot in chilly Norway in search of the Northern Lights, journey to bustling Tokyo (among other places) in a series all about cats and travel along the Nile, taking in its various sights and sounds. This time around the actress, who is probably best known for her role as the sneering fashion-conscious boozy Patsy in British comedy Absolutely Fabulous, travels to Greece. Tonight, in part three of this series, Joanna visits the Greek islands.

- Essential Mums

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