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worker surveys the damage caused by the fire in San Francisco's Marina District after the Loma Prieta earthquake struck. (FEMA News Photo)
worker surveys the damage caused by the fire in San Francisco's Marina District after the Loma Prieta earthquake struck. (FEMA News Photo)

A new take on an icon, a landmark new series and major fluff Add to ...

It's a major weekend in the TV racket: the new series from the man who gave us The Wire, now widely considered to be the finest TV drama ever; a new and challenging adaptation of an iconic work; and fluff - loads of fluff. Take Maid of Honor (Saturday, A Channel, 8 p.m.), a made-for-TV horror flick that's so ludicrous it's loopy fun. Linda Purl plays Laci who helps out grieving brother-in-law Richard (Linden Ashby) after his wife dies. To cut a long story short, when Richard meets a nice woman and proposes marriage, Laci goes violently wacky. You need something even scarier? There's a marathon of the series Hoarding (Saturday, TLC, 8 p.m.) which warns us all about the madness of clutter. The message for the weekend menu - don't let the fluff build up. Stick with the essentials.

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Anatomy Of An Earthquake

  • (Saturday, CBC NN, 10 p.m. on The Passionate Eye)

This has aired before but it's even more relevant now, following recent, devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. It's glossy, full of special effects and somewhat alarmist - essentially it asks if anybody is really prepared for the "Big One," the quake that might strike the west coast of this continent. There are several experts interviewed who predict that will happen sooner rather than later. We get a lengthy analysis of what occurred during the 1994 California quake that shocked even those who thought they knew what might happen in the Los Angeles region. The images from that disaster are a sharp reminder of how a major quake can destroy buildings, and not just the flimsy structures of a place such as Haiti. A freeway overpass failed, an apartment building collapsed and a three-storey parking structure buckled. We are also reminded of the cost of both building quake-resistant structures and of repair and rebuilding after a quake has done its damage.

Masterpiece Classic: The Diary of Anne Frank

  • (Sunday, PBS, 9 p.m.)

This BBC-made version ran in Britain as five half-hour episodes, Monday to Friday. (It's a one-time, seamlessly connected production on PBS.) As such, it is a new kind of naturalistic interpretation of the book. Deborah Moggach's adaptation is lyrical, using Anne's own words continually as a voiceover. There's a plaintive soundtrack, a piano melody playing over and over. And as Anne, Ellie Kendrick talks constantly, all questions and comments, the pathos of her youth and trapped existence made achingly clear. Young Kendrick is ideal here, every gesture and voice inflection seeming to come from an intuitive understanding of Anne's curiosity and frustrations. It is also a very English production but that works, the emphasis being on the middle-class manners and preoccupations of the Frank family. Tamsin Greig as Anne's mother, Edith, is also outstanding, capturing the pain of a woman traumatized but trying to hide it, and concentrating on surviving. The book is never easy to adapt for stage or screen, because of the audience's foreknowledge of Anne's fate. But here, mainly through Kendrick's affinity for the words and the character's terrors and pleasures, we get a multi-dimensional Anne.

Treme

  • (Sunday, HBO Canada, 10 p.m.)

It's wonderful. It just is. David Simon's new series - created with Eric Overmyer - cannot match the density of The Wire and it isn't meant to do that. It's just splendidly alive, with zest and freshness in its story. Set in New Orleans just three months after Hurricane Katrina, Treme is about a motley assortment of locals trying to get by and hoping to rebuild their homes and their lives. What connects them is music, which Simon presents as the living, breathing essence of the city. This is a series that rocks, sways, jumps and dances to music. We meet Antoine (Wendell Pierce from The Wire) a sly, struggling trombone player sticking with what he knows, even if Katrina seems to have swept his world away. And Albert Lambreaux (Clarke Peters, also from The Wire), the head of a tribe of Creole Indians who is fierce in his determination to rebuild. There is also the well-meaning but hopeless white DJ (Steve Zahn) who feels the music and the sadness but can't truly live it. For the first 20 minutes, you're mystified by the muttered vernacular of the city, and then you get it. Treme takes you in, and you know you're watching a triumph of television storytelling.

Check local listings.

Follow on Twitter: @MisterJohnDoyle

 

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