There are now only two places to go for those Sunday evening viewers hoping for a break from the intensity of criminal drama: Prime for their latest season of Top Gear and TV2 for a repeat of the zany little sitcom, The Big Bang Theory.
In terms of free-to-air television, One and TV3 have almost dedicated the last evening of the weekend to the dark and forensic, the former following up Sunday with Criminal Minds, Cold Case and Damage – the latter stringing together NCIS and CSI: Miami.
It wasn’t that long ago that Remote issued a general warning about Sunday evening television fare, citing the increased chances of dying from a heart attack from watching all the comedy shows on tap.
At that stage, it was difficult not to laugh oneself hoarse as The Goodies, The Young Ones, Harry Enfield, and I’m Alan Partridge screened in quick succession. Now it’s all about rotten corpses, serial-killers and court hearings.
The exceptions are, however, worthy of a visit.
Top Gear’s 15th season began with star host Jeremy Clarkson test driving an old three-wheel Reliant Robin and will presumably at some stage include the hilarious episode in which the team try to phase out the caravan by building motor homes on the back of a Land Rover, a Citroen and a Lotus.
This Sunday’s episodes feature the trio trying to find the world’s best four-seat supercar by using an Aston Martin Rapide, a Porche Panorama Turbo and a Maserati Quattroporte to ferry a bridal party and relatives to a wedding.
And even though the The Big Bang Theory is only screening as a repeat of the first season, the quirkiness of the plot and the lightness of the humour makes it easy to watch again, while leaving us hopeful that Television New Zealand will pick up the rights to the next season when available.
For those not familiar with it, the plot loosely surrounds a couple of extreme geeks at a Californian private research university, Sheldon and Leonard; their equally geeky friends Howard and Rajesh, and Penny, the waitress-cum-aspiring actress who rooms across the hallway.
It is a bit like an academic version of That 70s Show, if you can imagine Foreman, Hyde and Kelso carrying out scientific experiments rather than smoking pot in the basement.
Last week’s repeat episode featured one of the geeks, Sheldon, injecting luminous cells from other animals into goldfish, in order to create what he thought would be the next biggest consumer craze, and financial security for ever more – night-light fish.
The third season of The Big Bang Theory aired in New Zealand this year, after rating as CBS’s highest-rating show (of the evening) in the United States in the 18-49 years demographic, drawing an impressive 12.83 million viewers.
Last year The Big Bang Theory won the TCA award for the best comedy series and Jim Parsons, the actor who plays Sheldon, won the award for individual achievement in comedy.
It’s not hard to see why. Roll on season four.