What’s on TV: Wednesday, July 24
The return of the series that spawned a paradigm-changing genre and marked the beginning of the end of civilisation will get its rusted-on fans dusting off their tiki torches and practising their delivery of "The tribe has spoken". The Aussie version is always destined to be tamer than its US counterpart but still offers a whole lot of faux-dramatic fun, especially in the Champions versus Contenders format that brings a welcome frisson of I'm a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here. Big names signing up to potentially humiliate themselves on the small screen include NRL champ Andrew Ettingshausen, Olympic medallists Stephen Bradbury and Nova Peris, distance swimmer Susie Maroney and actor Pia Miranda, while the bunch of "ordinary" contenders include a pro-wrestler and cleaner-slash-tsunami survivor. Anyone thinking longingly of the first few seasons of US Survivor when rations were so low the contestants wound up balding and skeletal is likely to be disappointed, but Jonathan LaPaglia sure does do a great Jeff Probst impersonation.
Great things can happen when two people share a car trip in peak hour traffic. A whole lot of terribly ordinary things can happen, too. Squinters remains a mixed bag as it hits the midpoint of its second season. Highlights include Mandy McElhinney as heavily pregnant casual racist Bridget constantly pushing the buttons of her Indigenous lover Gary (Sapphires director and series co-writer Wayne Blair) while flatmates Talia (Rose Matafeo) and Romi (Andrea Demetriades) have that familiar easygoing banter common to young women. Parachuting in US comedy star Kristen Schaal as the new corporate head honcho seems a little misguided for a show so wedded to the Strine, however, while an extended sequence exposing the latent homosexuality of Luke's (Sam Simmons) high-vis-wearing passenger is like a gag from a 1990s sitcom. It's the kind of show where you feel the sweat of the writers' room behind every joke that lands, and every one that doesn't.
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