What's on TV: Saturday, August 19
Compass: The Staffroom
The Staffroom plunges into the inner sanctum of schoolteachers to discover what they do, what motivates them, and whether they are the cruel, lazy communists that we are all fairly sure they are. Host Jane Caro is bent on busting myths – for example the belief that a teacher's job is confined to classroom hours – and giving the general populace a bit more sympathy for people doing one of the most important jobs around.
pay Football: A Brief History by Alfie Allen
BBC Knowledge, 8.30pm
Game of Thrones star and lifelong football nut Alfie Allen takes his illuminating little history of the round-ball game into the 20th century tonight. The program starts off with a fascinating chapter on how women kept football going during World War I. Matches between teams of female factory workers became so popular that one game in 1920 attracted 53,000 spectators, with another 10,000 locked outside the packed stadium – no wonder The Football Association banned women's football the following year. Allen proves enthusiastic, upbeat and engaging as players, agents, administrators and academics fill him in on how team managers won autonomy from club boards, how players won freedom from unfair contracts, and how the game responded to mass deaths at football grounds in the 1980s. It's all quite interesting stuff, even if you're not a big football fan.
movie RoboCop (1987)
SBS Viceland, 8.30pm
Set in a Detroit so crime-ridden that the advent of fascist authoritarianism is treated as deliverance, Paul Verhoeven's dead-on black satire about both policing and the action movie itself imagines a uniformed police officer Murphy (Peter Weller), who has been riddled with bullets in the line of duty, being turned into a relentless cyborg. Put back on the streets by the corporation that made him, RoboCop cleans up the city in seductively staged sequences that are punctuated with depictions of his media celebrity. The idea that action movie stars are machines is taken to its artificial extreme, as the clanking, incorruptible machine works against the street criminals and eventually the suits looking to profit from their chaos; the late, great Miguel Ferrer laid the foundation for his career with his portrayal of the venal executive Bob Morton. Verhoeven, the Dutch provocateur, gave Americans a celebration of their worst instincts.
movie The Lobster (2015)
World Movies (pay TV), 11.20pm
A dystopian comedy of gloriously deadpan dimensions, the first English-language feature from Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (Alps) begins at a country hotel and/or state prison, where a society obsessed with maintaining relationships sends those who are alone. Given 45 days to find a companion or face being turned into an animal, guests such as David (Colin Farrell) fall into a routine of matchmaking, hunting and mandatory sexual stimulation; the strange rituals are never pronounced or objected to, although the inexpressive, explanatory dialogue hints at the mindset. Rachel Weisz and particularly Lea Seydoux, as a fierce resistance leader, are exemplary. Bearing trace elements of Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 and Bunuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, the film inverts our desire for relationships until they've become a bureaucratic labyrinth, with each twist answering to an internal logic that Lanthimos conducts as if it was a string quartet only he can hear.