Voyage of the Courtesans
November 23 at 8 on Channel 13
This episode of PBS’s juicy Secrets of the Dead series casts Australia’s founding mothers in a new light, and a pretty intriguing one by contemporary standards. In 1789, hundreds of female thieves and prostitutes were rounded up from English jails and banished to the burgeoning Australian penal colony. Along the way, they transformed their ship into a floating brothel, gaining enough money and confidence by the time they arrived to become a force to be reckoned with in the (other) new world.
November 28 at 9 on HBO
A graceful poem of a film, this is the first movie shot in the Zulu language by a South African cast and crew. But dialogue is sparing, making way for simple visual moments that emphasize solitude in the life of a young woman named Yesterday. Raising her daughter in an isolated village while her husband works the Johannesburg mines, Yesterday discovers she’s infected with HIV. Her response fits the understated, tender tone of the film, laced as it is with daily tragedies and mundane epiphanies.
Mondays at 8 on Fox
The threat of cancellation has long hovered over the Bluth family, but now it looks certain that the funniest, most original network comedy around will soon halt developing altogether. Although the characters are a little too cartoony to truly mourn, I’ll still be wondering if Michael will find love, if George Michael and Maeby can consummate their incestuous flirtation, if Buster will escape the malign clutches of his mother, and if Tobias can figure out how to get out of the closet. Fox has suspended all November episodes, so catch the last run of episodes, beginning in December.
Thursdays at 10 on Sundance
Iconoclasts takes the core Interview magazine concept to TV: just two celebs sitting around talking. Luckily, this show’s idea of celebrity is fairly eclectic, so in the next month we’ll see oddball pairings like designer Tom Ford talking to Jeff Koons and Renée Zellweger turning the tables on reporter Christiane Amanpour.