Once again, apologies for blogging so infrequently of late: I am doing four jobs at once and working right into the weekends. Telly Addict endures. This week, the return of Homeland to C4; the arrival of The Blacklist to Sky Living; the return of Citizen Khan to BBC1; the continuation of The Great British Bake Off on BBC2 (with mysterious invader); the return of Louie to Fox; the return of True Blood, also to Fox; and the finale of The Story Of The Jews on BBC2. Bear with me.
Laughs aplenty this week on Telly Addict, although not, to be honest, from Downton Abbey on ITV, whose fourth series continues to play out like a Smiths song; elsewhere however, comedy abounds: The Wrong Mans on BBC2 (already reviewed in great detail on this very blog), London Irish on C4 and the comeback farewell of The IT Crowd on C4; also, while we’re about it, By Any Means on BBC1, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on C4 (nice importing!) and a lovely Culture Show special on Northern Soul on BBC2 that allowed incoming Channel Four News culture editor Paul Mason to spin like a twisted wheel.
PS: I hadn’t seen the final episode of Breaking Bad when we recorded this yesterday. I have now. But I doubt I’ll be able to meaningfully review it on Telly Addict for fear of spoiling it for law-abiding citizens of the UK who don’t subscribe to Neflix. I may blog about it here instead, in a safe zone.
We’ve hit that competitive cookery sweet spot where Celebrity Masterchef is still on BBC1 as The Great British Bake Off begins on BBC2. A mouth-watering week for Telly Addict, then, with an unholy amount of blue tape around its ravaged fingers and thumbs. More blood and guts – for one unfortunate farm animal at any rate – on Under The Dome, Channel 5’s latest import, this time a CBS adaptation of a fat Stephen King novel about a town in Maine that’s … under a dome; the welcome return of Top Boy to C4, proving that the channel can look at the vexed issue of poverty – or at least an underground capitalist economy – without humiliating anyone; and the finale of season one of The Americans on ITV, which ended as it began with a period-appropriate song. No room for Sky1’s promising Chickens or BBC1’s intriguing What Remains this week; will remedy that next week.
Well, don’t expect any clips, as Netflix weren’t able to supply any, but Gawd bless them anyway (love Netflix, hate not having any clips), as without them the only way to see the second act of Breaking Bad’s fifth and final season without being American would involve breaking the law. It dominates this week’s running-late Telly Addict, which also finds time for the C4 documentary Crazy About One Direction; the promising US crime import Low Winter Sun on Fox; an approving nod to the end of series one of Love/Hate on Channel 5; and another unsavoury documentary humiliating people on “welfare”, Benefits Britain 1949, also on C4.
Yes, it’s quite a solemn moment on this week’s Telly Addict. The last ever BBC4 “karaoke drama” about depressed comedians, batty writers and drunk actors: Burton & Taylor. But what a curtain call! And what a fine, channel-defining portfolio it completes. (Well, not channel-defining any more, thanks to the Murdoch/Cameron project Delivering Quality First.) Also made by the BBC, Badults on BBC3, but I can’t review that for obvious reasons, so instead we welcome back Phoneshop for its third series to E4; also, something new, an Irish import, from RTÉ1, Love/Hate on Channel Five; Why Don’t You Speak English?, a social-issues doc on C4 that actually had something worthwhile to say; and a glimpse of The Mill on C4, which I’ll review properly next week. I haven’t done the final episode of The Returned, as it’s impossible to discuss at this early stage without spoilers. There are plenty of places to discuss its failings and its glories elsewhere on the Guardian site.
Sorry, got distracted this week on Telly Addict by a gloriously pointless and condescending documentary on BBC1, Britain’s Favourite Supermarket Foods, which ought to have been on CBBC, except it might have been rejected by that channel’s core audience for being too facile (but full marks to presenter Cherry Healey for giving it her all). More meat was to be found on the estate-set drama Run on C4, a four-parter so unrelentingly grim I decided not to watch it over the prescribed four consecutive night, but spread its grimness out over four weeks; Family Tree on BBC2 was an expectedly gentle comic treat; there was more humanity on Route Masters on BBC2; The Americans pulled me back in on ITV; and law-firm fixer procedural Ray Donovan from Showtime made a big impression on Sky Atlantic. But what is Britain’s favourite supermarket food? Find out in part two next week. I expect.
Then this is the Telly Addict for you. It’s got Luther on BBC1, which, if you didn’t see the first episode, is now officially the more terrifying programme on TV. They’ve rustled up a serial killer who makes The Fall‘s Paul Spector look like a nice family man who isn’t actually a serial killer; also, while we’re on “scary”, there are honorable mentions for The Returned on C4 and The Walking Dead, whose third season, the one with David Morrissey, has just transferred from Fox to Channel 5; on a lighter note, Dates on C4, which came to an end last week; and the surprisingly grown up, valedictory Skins: Fire on E4, from Bryan Elsley, who’s also the creator of Dates (clever man, with a clever son, Jamie Brittain, who wrote my fave Date with the great Greg McHugh, and a clever daughter, Jess Brittain, who’s writing the first Skins story); a summary dismissal of ABC’s Scandal, whose second season came to fail to fill the gap left by The Good Wife and Nashville on More4 (sorry!); plus a moment of Zen from BBC2’s superb Route Masters.
Just as the vegetable-growing year has a “hungry gap” in spring, when very little comes up, so, new produce in the TV year tends to drop off around now. As noted in the new, seasonally adjusted Telly Addict, Game Of Thrones, The Fall, Mad Men, The Good Wife, Nashville, all are either done, or close to being done, having been launched in either the autumn or the winter, when people watch telly and don’t go on holiday or sit in the garden or outside a pub in the evening. However, UK-Belgian epic The White Queen is here to save us for the next ten Sunday nights on BBC1; also this week, BBC2’s scientifically pointless but cat-filled Horizon: The Secret Life Of The Cat; Dates on C4; and the triumphant takeover of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart on Comedy Central by John Oliver from these islands (and from the same management as me). The British are coming. And some Belgians.
Who’s in here? Well, if you watch this week’s Telly Addict, which avoids spoilers for the final episodes of The Fall on BBC2 and Game Of Thrones on Sky Atlantic (mainly because I hadn’t seen either when I filmed this yesterday), you’ll see clip evidence of at least two supporting actors who are in both shows. Also, new on BBC3, docucircus The Call Centre, and new on C4, the terrific, glacially-paced French “zombie” drama The Returned. And congratulations and clubbable banter all round for the 500th episode of Pointless on BBC1.
Catching up with the Masterchef final on BBC1 from last week this week on Telly Addict. Also, the quick death of Four Rooms on C4; Da Vinci’s Demons on Fox; a much more promising new US drama, Banshee, on Sky Atlantic; and two new sitcoms on ITV, Vicious and The Job Lot, one of which I’m sticking with. Due to the Bank Holiday, I hadn’t seen the final episode of The Village when I wrote this one, so I’ll catch up with it next week, as I understand it ended with a song and dance number.