Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Warblers up against the axe factor

After seeing off the first ratings challenge of rival talent quests Australia's Got Talent and the leaders' debate, The X Factor (Seven, 7.30pm) enters its culling phase.

With 150 acts turning up for super boot camp and just 24 due to make it out the other side, we were urgently informed that ''only incredible singing can save them'' from the judges' axe.

Happily, there are some incredible singers in this lot. In fact, the ensemble that sang Emeli Sande's Next To Me simply nailed it.

As the uber-likeable Ronan Keating announced: within this group, serious superstars lurk.


Naturally, when talented warblers are lined up against each other there can be a tendency to over-sing, trying to grab their moment and wring it for more than its worth. And so it was that musical phrases with 12 notes suddenly had 120 notes, a melody hidden somewhere in the vocal gymnastics.

But when Redfoo points his finger and shakes his big hair at you and says, ''Dat's wot I'm tahlkin' 'bout'', you know you've done well. There's slightly different competition in The Last Woman Standing (ABC2, 9.30pm), with a group of English women dragged around the globe to remote villages to take on tribal women in a weird array of sports.

If I were to say the first challenge is in the village of the Kamayura tribe in Brazil, where semi-naked women wrestle in the dirt, you may be watching for all the wrong reasons. In truth, there's not a lot of second-level going on here, even though the series aspires to be something of a cultural insight.

With a relentless musical background that refuses to shut up, The Last Woman Standing goes big on the gladiatorial contest. Each of the women bring a different sporting skill to the mix - a boxer, rugby player, wave boarder, personal trainer and endurance athlete - none of which prepares them for having to go to the loo in the bush.

Basic amenities are now being threatened at Chester's Mill as life Under The Dome (Ten, 8.30pm) becomes increasingly chaotic. Shopping has been replaced by looting.

''Honey, could you pop around to the drugstore and loot some bread and milk, please. You'll also need to break into the Johnston's house and steal their insulin.''

''Big Jim'' Rennie (Dean Norris) is busily trying to maintain some level of control over his townsfolk, but he suddenly has another enemy in his son, Junior, who is a card-carrying weirdo. He's also a gun-totin' deputy sheriff, a combination that will have to end in tears.

As the community tears itself apart, there continues to be pockets of romance under the dome-filtered moonlight.

This is a big, cumbersome project, but it's terrific over-the-top drama.

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