TV listings | A view to a heist

Pick of the Week Smash & Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers (DR2, Tue 20:30)

The documentary Smash & Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers, directed by Havana Marking (Afghan Star), traces the story of ‘The Pink Panthers’, the name given by Interpol to an international jewel thief network originating from Serbia and Montenegro. The Panthers earned their nick-name following the theft of a £500,000 diamond from a jeweller in Mayfair in 1993 in which they hid the gem in a jar of face cream, mimicking a scene from the crime-comedy The Return of the Pink Panther.

The group is believed to be responsible for some of the most audacious heists in criminal history. Since 1993, Interpol estimates that the Panthers have been responsible for the theft of over 500 million dollars’ worth of gems and luxury goods from the world’s most bejewelled cities. In the last decade, the group has robbed 120 stores in 20 different countries, ensuring success through their daring and staggering attention to detail. For example, before robbing a jeweller in Biarritz, the Panthers painted a nearby bench to deter anyone from sitting on it and seeing them in action.

The documentary traces the gang’s roots to the conflict in the Balkans. It uses CCTV footage and interviews with former gang members to reveal the gang’s growing methodological precision and  criminal ambitions in what initially appears to be a celebration of the gang’s inventive, movie-like exploits, which include escapes by speed-boat and limousine, prison breakouts and the use of prosthetic disguises.

However, over the course of the film, what develops is a cynical examination of a criminal gang made up of former soldiers,  that despite the ‘commercial terrorist’ label given to them by Interpol, stand accused of crimes ranging from drug trafficking to murder.

Also New:

There’s something harmless-sounding about a blog, like it’s something Baggins would write, but put one in communist China and suddenly you have an incendiary vehicle for a commodity that rarely travels abroad the truth. Acclaimed US doc High Tech, Low Life (2012) follows two Chinese bloggers whose stories intertwine. Both visually and insightfully, it’s a triumph.


Staying in Southeast Asia, the Aussie 2007 doc Bomb Harvest (DR2, Sun 23:30) reveals how unexploded bombs from the Vietnam War continue to wreak havoc in Laos today And staying with the theme, there’s another chance to watch the superb ten-episode war series The Pacific (DR1, Sun-Thu 23:30) from the start.


Elsewhere, Death in Paradise (SVT1, Sat 21:30) returns for season two; and music fans won’t want to miss Classic Albums: Nirvana’s Nevermind (DR3, Sat 22:00) or Last Night of the Proms.


Sport of the Week:

Denmark are in the last chance saloon heading into their 2012 World Cup qualifiers away at Malta (K6, Fri 19:00) and Armenia (K6, Tue 18:00), who they lost 0-4 to at Parken. Nothing short of two wins will see them fail to qualify. England are likewise struggling and need results at home to Moldova (delayed coverage K6, Fri 23:05) and away in Ukraine. Elsewhere, don’t miss the Italian Grand Prix or the men’s final of the US Open.


Film of the Week:

The visually stunning Cold War espionage film Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy was shot almost entirely using a long lens to create the effect of spying. Transformers 3 (TV3, Sun 21:00) will make you feel like you’re dying. And the light froth of She’s Out Of My League and Leap Year, which both have likeable leads and forgettable plots, like crying. The Coen brothers’ Burn After Reading (DR2, Fri 20:00) is quirky, Piranha (K6, Sat 22:00) plain silly, and Wall Street 2 (TV3+, Thu 21:00) not as bad as you might expect.


Jesus Christ Mom! Why are we having Beef Stroganoff again?Coming Soon:

The Americans

Cold War drama The Americans “skillfully captures the anxiety of the age”, according to Created by a former CIA agent, Joe Weisberg, it follows the life of a quintessential, suburban American family – only they’re spies, or at least the parents, Philip (Matthew Rhys, Brothers and Sisters) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell, Felicity) are.


The series begins in 1981, by which time the couple have been in the US for 16 years. Phillip has fallen in love with his role of an all-American dad and begun to question his loyalty to his mission. Elizabeth treats the enemy with the utmost contempt and is steadfast in her support for the motherland. And then there are the two children, who are blissfully unaware – a tense subplot that develops intriguingly.


With a very healthy Metacritic score of 77, this has so far been one of the highest-rated new shows of  2013.