Proper Chan­nels

Warmer weather no longer brings cold front to TV scene

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - Ken MacLeod Ken MacLeod is an editor and re­porter with the Cape Bre­ton Post. He prob­a­bly watches more tele­vi­sion than is good for him, but wel­comes any com­ment from read­ers on what they might have read in this col­umn or what they might like to see in fut

Three more fine new sum­mer TV se­ries to en­joy.

While so far it hasn’t been much of a sum­mer for weather, the sum­mer of 2015 will go down in the books as one of the bet­ter off-sea­sons in re­cent years for de­cent new tele­vi­sion.

Over the past cou­ple of weeks, I’ve has stum­bled across no less than three new TV shows that, to vary­ing de­grees, are worth spend­ing some time with.

In the usual Proper Chan­nels fash­ion, here they are, from (rel­a­tively, in this case) worst to first:

••• “ANOTHER PE­RIOD” (Com­edy Cen­tral): This half-hour com­edy (it’s on the spe­cial­ity chan­nel Much on Tues­day nights in Canada) is a sly lit­tle satire that does a pretty good job of si­mul­ta­ne­ously mock­ing re­al­ity TV of the “Housewives of (in­sert name of large Amer­i­can city here)” va­ri­ety, as well as pe­riod dra­mas like “Down­ton Abbey” and “Up­stairs Down­stairs.” Only two of the sea­son’s 10 episodes have aired so far, but if the qual­ity is as good the rest of the way, “Another Pe­riod” is easily de­serv­ing of a sec­ond sea­son.

The sto­ry­line is a stan­dard one for fans of Kar­dashian silli­ness: It’s about 1900 or there­abouts, and the nouveau riche Bel­la­court sis­ters of New­port, Rhode Is­land, are fiercely de­ter­mined to be­come fa­mous, much like the re­al­ity stars that have over­run our tele­vi­sion net­works to­day. Well-known standup come­di­enne Natasha Leg­gero is in fine form as snooty Lil­lian Bel­la­court and Riki Lind­home (the Gar­funkel half of the mu­sic/TV duo, “Gar­funkel and Oates”) matches her as the some­what dim-wit­ted younger sis­ter, Beatrice Bel­la­court.

The eye-rolling shenani­gans the sis­ters get them­selves into is helped out con­sid­er­ably by a great cast that in­cludes such top-drawer tal­ents as Paget Brew­ster (“Com­mu­nity”), Christina Hen­dricks (“Mad Men”) and Jason Rit­ter (“Par­ent­hood”).

While no word has has come down yet on a sec­ond sea­son, se­ries cre­ators Leg­gero and Lind­home de­serve a big thumbs-up for dream­ing up a con­cept that’s as fresh as it is funny.

••• “DEUTSCH­LAND 83” (Sun­dance): The first-ever Ger­man lan­guage se­ries broad­cast on an Amer­i­can net­work, Deutsch­land 83 is yet another ex­am­ple of why TV with sub­ti­tles is be­com­ing a more vi­able op­tion for dis­cern­ing view­ers these days.

Good on Sun­dance to air the orig­i­nal rather than do­ing an English-lan­guage copy that sucked all the life out if the fore­run­ner, like A&E did with its ver­sion of the fab­u­lous French TV se­ries, “Les Revenants.”

Deutsch­land 83 tells a sim­ple, straight­for­ward story, but the steady rise of the stakes with each pass­ing episode ratch­ets up the ten­sion quite nicely.

Cre­ated by the Ger­manAmer­i­can hus­band-and-wife team of Anna and Jörg Winger for the Ger­man broad­caster RTL, Deutsch­land 83 is an eight­part minis­eries set in 1983, just when United States Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan was start­ing to feel his oats and fig­ured he had a de­cent shot at tip­ping the bal­ance of the Cold War in Amer­ica’s favour.

Onto the scene comes an ide­al­is­tic young East Ger­man solider named Moritz Stamm ( Jonas Nay), who is blackmailed by his cold-blooded Aunt Lenora (Maria Schrader), a high-rank­ing East Ger­man spy­mas­ter, into tak­ing on the iden­tity of a West Ger­man of­fi­cer at­tached to an im­por­tant NATO gen­eral in West Ger­many, with the ob­ject be­ing to steal as many se­crets as he can be­fore he gets caught

Nay is quite be­liev­able as the re­source­ful but in­ex­pe­ri­enced young spy who is tested to his lim­its, but it’s the lighter mo­ments — his in­ex­pe­ri­ence leads to some un­ex­pected and nervewrack­ing gaffes — that give a nice edge to the ten­sion-packed sto­ry­lines. CATAS­TRO­PHE (Chan­nel 4): A mod­est hit when its six­episode run aired in the UK in Jan­uary, Cana­di­ans have been able to see what the fuss was all about since since May 10, when “Catas­tro­phe” be­gan air­ing on the stream­ing ser­vice Shomi.

The premise to the the halfhour com­edy is sim­ple but bru­tally ef­fec­tive — forty-ish Lon­don sin­gle Sharon Mor­ris (Sharon Hor­gan) has a week­long fling with a har­mo­niously named vis­it­ing Amer­i­can busi­ness­man named Ron Nor­ris (Ron De­laney) and, a few short weeks later, dis­cov­ers she’s preg­nant. As soon as Ron gets the over­seas call from a pan­icky Sharon, he’s off to Eng­land, de­ter­mined to do the right thing, come hell or high wa­ter.

Of course, noth­ing ever runs smooth in sit­com land, and there are more than a few ups and downs over the course of the sea­son, but the two leads are noth­ing short of mar­vel­lous in con­vinc­ingly por­tray­ing two peo­ple who barely know each other, while at the same time de­light­ing in the slow but sure dis­cov­ery that they have a lot more in com­mon than they had at first imag­ined.

Hor­gan, one of the fun­ni­est comic ac­tors alive, is her usual mag­nif­i­cant self, but the real sur­prise for me was how well De­laney works op­po­site her. Peo­ple have been telling me about his standup work for a while now, but this was the first time I had the chance to see him as an ac­tor and he’s a fair match for the Hor­gan, who made great se­ries like “Pulling” and “Fair Game” such ad­dic­tive view­ing.

And more good news: Chan­nel 4 is mak­ing a sec­ond se­ries that should air next win­ter.


Sharon Hor­gan and Ron De­laney star in Chan­nel 4’s hit com­edy, “Catas­tro­phe.” The six-episode, half-hour Bri­tish com­edy has been avail­able in Canada since May 10 on the stream­ing ser­vice Shomi.

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