Beeb pulls it off, makes geology rock

When some bright spark at the BBC first said, “Hey, let’s do a really smart and engaging series about rocks and stuff”, for sure there would have been blank looks around the room. But with Rise of the Continents (ABC1, 8.32pm), the Beeb has pulled off the seemingly impossible task of making rocks interesting to people beyond a handful of geology nerds.
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The four-part series is compelling viewing, largely due to its stunning cinematography and aided enormously by the genial and enthusiastic presence of Professor Iain Stewart. The first episode tells the story of the formation of Africa, piecing together the unlikely tale from fossils and other clues, along with a generous helping of CSI-style animations.

Meanwhile, 7TWO has a double-helping of the show loathed by nervous flyers everywhere: Air Crash Investigation (8.30pm).

As someone who has long denied the fundamental improbability of flying by the liberal application of multiple large gin and tonics, ACI has never been top of my viewing list. Still, whatever floats your boat (or crashes your plane).

And it’s not like it’s been a great week already for reluctant air passengers, after the release of a report saying a leading cause of crashes is pilots refusing to abort landings. Show me where it says in any flight training manual: “If it looks like you are going to crash on landing, explode into flames and kill all your passengers, why not have a crack anyway?”

I’d prefer to take my chances among the zombies of SBS Two’s In the Flesh (8.35pm). This is a surprisingly intelligent and curiously affecting zombie tale that is told from the point of view of the undead themselves, in the era following a zombie uprising. It’s set in an English village after the locals fought a long and bloody battle against the reanimated corpses, taking matters into their own hands when the government failed to protect them from the brain-munching hordes.

Now that same government wants the villagers, and in particular the members of the local anti-zombie militia, to put down their pitchforks and shotguns and welcome the surviving zombies back into the community.

The official line is that these sufferers from Partially Deceased Syndrome have been rendered safe by their drug therapy, but the angry locals insist that “once a rotter, always a rotter”.

It’s all great fun and played with a very straight bat. In particular, Luke Newberry, as a rehabilitated teenage PDS sufferer trying to return to normal life with his nervous family, is brilliant.

Enjoy it for the drama and occasional gory action, or ponder the deeper allegorical significance about how communities can heal themselves after cataclysmic spasms of violence.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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