George Blagden, perhaps better known as Athelstan in SBS’s Vikings, here plays Louis XIV in the second season of Versailles. The plot revolves around the construction of that famous palace, and the political and cultural changes that resulted. This episode sees the Dauphin rescued from captivity; spies and agents belonging to Guillaume d’Orange roaming the countryside; and a spate of poisonings breaking out among the elite, including a cabinet minister. While Louis’s troops prepare to invade Holland, he still finds himself haunted by nightmares and paranoia, and even begins sleepwalking into lakes in the middle of the night. This series is a little humourless, despite the odd aristocratic bon mot. A third season is in production. Canuck-noir hardly rolls of the tongue, but this new six-part series feels explicitly like a Canadian response to the juggernaut of Nordic crime dramas set in remote and icy climes. (To wit: the series’ theme song is by Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel.) Based on Giles Blunt’s novel Forty Words for Sorrow, Cardinal is a murder mystery set in the fictional Algonquin Bay, based on North Bay in Northeastern Ontario. Detective John Cardinal (Billy Campbell, The Killing) has been demoted from the homicide squad after a bungled investigation into a missing First Nations girl. His soon-to-be new partner, Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse), alerts him that they’ve finally found the body. It’s entirely faithful to its genre, which makes it thoroughly enjoyable viewing. It has been renewed for a further two seasons. Outlander Thursday, 10.40pm, SBS This is a show that just keeps gaining new audiences since first airing here in 2014 on Foxtel. Based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon and created by Ronald D. Moore ( Battlestar Galactica), Outlander is a tale of love and time travel set in the Scottish Highlands starring Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies. Season one had an unprecedentedly full-on penultimate episode and finale (even for those not easily shocked). Season two begins here, with Balfe’s Claire Randall returning to 1948 — with a lot of explaining to do. A third season is due to begin in the US in September. Those who have read Lee Child’s much-loved Jack Reacher (tonight, 9.15pm, Nine) novels have a hard time reconciling Tom Cruise’s portrayal of the title character, mainly due to his physical dimensions. According to the books Reacher is 195cm tall and weighs more than 110kg. Child has been fielding criticisms since the film was made in 2012. “It was completely impossible to find a physical facsimile of Jack Reacher in Hollywood,” he said. “There are none — not even remotely close. The people you think are 195cm and 110kg are not.” Nevertheless, Cruise reprised the role last year in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Despite starring Michael Fassbender, Dominic West and Olga Kurylenko, 2010’s Centurion (tonight, 9pm, 7Flix) got only a tepid reception from audiences. The film is based on the true story of the Roman Ninth Legion, which went missing in Caledonia (Scotland) in the early second century AD. It also received a sequel: The Eagle, starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland. See James Gandolfini’s final performance in The Drop (tomorrow, 9.15pm, One), where he plays Cousin Marv alongside Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace, based on a story by Dennis Lehane.
Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan in Outlander