Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Host a bundle of energy in fuel doco

The idea of fuel being Ten Bucks a Litre (ABC1, 8.30pm) frightens Dick Smith more than most. He is a self-confessed ''jet-fuel freak'', breezing about the country in his helicopter or around the world in his plane.

So the little Aussie ideas man has taken a year to put together this documentary on our energy consumption and its medium to long-term impact. While the title is a classic bit of push-polling, his concern is genuine.

Smith is energy. He's built for a hard hat and high-visibility safety vest, standing high on scaffolding explaining the workings of a power plant in terms even I can almost understand. Or he strides into a room and immediately grabs the world's toughest audience - a year 6 class - by asking questions, seeking ideas and breaking massive concepts into bite-sized morsels.

He's a formidable host: smart and engaging as he searches for ways to knock off a few carbuncles, or even toes, from our carbon footprint. Smith is suitably excited by any energy idea, like turning sawdust into crude oil by way of my word of the week - slurry.


''Amazing,'' he says. ''Wow.''

He winds down the window of the electric car he's driving as it stops to let a coal train slide by.

''This is the future,'' he says, before hopping back into his helicopter to carbon-footprint his way to his next appointment.

Smith tells us that if we leave a big-screen TV turned on for a year, it will cost $600.

Money well spent.

If you haven't caught up with Mock the Week (ABC2, 9pm), then this Looks Back At edition is perfect, offering highlights from the long-running British comedy. Think Have I Got News For You, Good News Week or any of the many shows that use current affairs as a comic launch-pad.

Host Dara O Briain gives the answers and waits for questions from his panel of comedians. Correct is good. Funny is much better.

Dependant almost entirely on the crew gathered each week, it delivers pretty consistently.

If O Briain's category was television, and the answer was 255,000, the question may be ''how many teeth does Larry Emdur have?'' or ''what was the dollar value of the rings on Sonia Kruger's fingers in Big Brother?''

Sadly, 255,000 was actually the number of people who watched the first part of Better Man (SBS One, 8.30pm). Perhaps the arrival of Bryan Brown, David Wenham and Claudia Karvan on Thursday will be the ratings equivalent of the cavalry.

They are all terrific as the trial of Van Nguyen (Remy Hii) for drug smuggling gets under way. It's a true story without a happy ending; always a tough sell. But it deserves more eyes.
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