Damien Love’s TV high­lights in­clud­ing the re­turn of Broad­church


Sunday Herald Life - - CONTENTS -


Broad­church 9pm, STV Broad­church is back, but do we want it? A Scan­dis­tyled drama fol­low­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a young boy’s mur­der and its ef­fect on his small com­mu­nity by the sea, the orig­i­nal se­ries be­came a phe­nom­e­non in 2013, the kind of must-see ap­point­ment TV that stream­ing and binge­ing is sup­posed to have killed. But where some of the other most talked about Bri­tish crime shows of re­cent years have man­aged to main­tain their in­ten­sity, and in some cases am­plify it, as they’ve re­turned for sub­se­quent out­ings – Happy Val­ley, Line Of Duty, Un­for­got­ten – writer Chris Chib­nall’s pro­gramme stalled badly with its sec­ond se­ries in 2015. It didn’t just drop the ball. It sat there cry­ing about it.

Partly, the rea­son Broad­church 2 failed was be­cause it had am­bi­tion enough to at­tempt some­thing po­ten­tially very in­ter­est­ing. Whether old-school crime-of-the-week shows like Columbo, or re­cent sagas like The Killing, where each case forms an en­tire novel-length se­ries, tra­di­tional TV cop for­mula dic­tates that, once that mys­tery is solved, next time we re­turn we’ll fol­low our cen­tral de­tec­tives on into an­other case. But Chib­nall had his sights on some­thing else, some­thing osten­si­bly more re­al­is­tic: a re­turn that would ex­plore the crime’s af­ter-ef­fects on the peo­ple in­volved, fol­low­ing the con­se­quences of ac­tions, in­ac­tions and lies as they con­tin­ued rip­pling across peo­ple’s lives. It was a good idea, but, as it turned out, not one that Broad­church’s frame­work could sup­port – cut it how you like, the first se­ries was a Who­dunit at heart, with char­ac­ters lined up like Cluedo sus­pects. Very quickly the plot de­gen­er­ated in a fit of ridicu­lous con­vo­lu­tions as it at­tempted to eke more out of the pre­vi­ous story. When­ever it all got too im­plau­si­ble, Chib­nall at­tempted to pa­per over the cracks by throw­ing in some­one weep­ing, which rapidly be­came the se­ries’ self-par­o­dy­ing sig­na­ture shot. With al­most ev­ery mo­ment over-egged, cheesed-up and weighed down by the soggy weight of its sup­posed emo­tional sig­nif­i­cance, the prospect of watch­ing the pa­rade of sad faces cry­ing slowly over a fic­tional crime we solved a year ear­lier soon held lit­tle ap­peal.

To a de­gree, as the new se­ries be­gins, it seems Chib­nall has hit re­set and ad­mit­ted what fans al­ways knew: Broad­church’s best thing is its odd cou­ple cops, Alec Hardy and El­lie Miller, who, as played by David Ten­nant and Olivia Col­man, have a sim­ple, scratchy, soul­ful chem­istry you just want to spend time watch­ing – to the ex­tent that you’re pre­pared to qui­etly ig­nore the fact that, given ev­ery­thing that’s hap­pened pre­vi­ously, it’s im­prob­a­ble they’d still be work­ing to­gether. Broad­church 3 moves closer to the tra­di­tional path, then, fol­low­ing our de­tec­tives into a whole new case. But Chib­nall ap­proaches this new crime with a weight, se­ri­ous­ness and a level of care that is rare. The story be­gins with the re­port of a rape, and much of its first episode is de­voted to the vic­tim’s trauma, shock and pain, the de­tails of the sys­tems she must go through as po­lice seek to take ev­i­dence from her body, the process of swabs and sealed bags. This char­ac­ter, Tr­ish, is played by Julie Hes­mond­halgh. As the Corona­tion Street faith­ful know, she has long been one of Bri­tish TV’s most re­mark­able ac­tors, but she is truly ex­cep­tional in this episode. The scenes be­tween her, Col­man and Ten­nant were enough to leave me hop­ing this se­ries could turn out to be some­thing spe­cial. Then again, my heart sank a lit­tle when it be­came clear how Chib­nall re­mains de­ter­mined to shoe­horn and ham­mer char­ac­ters from the pre­vi­ous se­ries back into the sto­ry­line yet again. But we’ll see.


SS-GB 9pm, BBC One Maybe the pre­view episodes sound dif­fer­ent, but I’ve had no trou­ble fol­low­ing the di­a­logue in SS-GB, which was the sub­ject of much sup­posed mum­ble­gate out­rage last week. (Many com­plaints tar­geted Sam Ri­ley’s John Hurt-like gravel whis­per – but this is how the guy talks.) As it is, I’m find­ing the slow-burn­ing adap­ta­tion of Len Deighton’s novel easy to sink into, a mix of pure pulp, para­noid fan­tasy and se­ri­ous in­tent that’s good to look at and fas­ci­nat­ing in its weird pic­ture of a 1940s Bri­tain un­der Nazi rule; a place where it’s not sur­pris­ing some char­ac­ters feel the need to whis­per. As tonight’s episode be­gins, Archer (Ri­ley) is rac­ing to pre­vent his son from be­ing snatched from choir prac­tice, but finds him­self cast in the role of col­lab­o­ra­tor when his new SS boss steps in and be­gins round­ing up teach­ers and chil­dren as Re­sis­tance sus­pects. While his old cop men­tor Harry (James Cosmo) presses him to de­cide which side he’s on, Archer ploughs on into the murk, and be­gins to glimpse the big­ger pic­ture.


The Re­place­ment 9pm, BBC One Writer-di­rec­tor Joe Ahearne is on ter­rific form with the first episode of this three-part drama, a cuckoo in the nest psy­cho-thriller set in Glas­gow, chart­ing the in­creas­ingly nasty clash be­tween two women with sim­mer­ing is­sues. Mor­ven Christie plays Ellen, an ar­chi­tect who stands on the brink of the big­gest break in her ca­reer when she wins her firm the con­tract for a pres­ti­gious li­brary job. When she dis­cov­ers she’s preg­nant, she doesn’t see why the happy news should make any dif­fer­ence. But as she be­gins hand­ing the build­ing project over to her ea­ger new ma­ter­nity cover, Paula (Vicky McClure), she’s seized by the no­tion that Paula wants to take ev­ery­thing away from her – and not just in work terms. As their dance of sus­pi­cion and jeal­ously un­folds, Christie, who was so great in The A Word, de­liv­ers an­other bril­liant per­for­mance, while McClure, all smiles and sym­pa­thy, im­bues ev­ery scene with a slightly off, deeply un­com­fort­able un­der­tow. Ahearne di­rects with­out fuss, but slips in cheeky nods to Hitch­cock – and Glas­gow looks fan­tas­tic.


Lit­tle Big Shots 8pm, STV Dawn French gives her all as the peppy pre­sen­ter of this bright, loud and glit­tery new en­ter­tain­ment se­ries that will be a de­light to many, and be the stuff of please­help-me-I’m-in-hell liv­ing night­mare to some oth­ers. Based on an Amer­i­can for­mat, the idea is a bunch of pre­co­ciously tal­ented kids per­form­ing the stuff that they’re pre­co­ciously tal­ented at: tonight, some play pi­ano, some dance, some sing, some kick foot­balls around while shout­ing their own daft wee commentary, and one does all this mad Shaolin kung-fu busi­ness. It’s not a Bri­tain’s Got Tal­ent-style com­pe­ti­tion: there are no judges, no big prizes wait­ing to be won, no winners or losers. Just some chil­dren do­ing stuff they love for an au­di­ence, while French cheers them along, helps them out, and asks them ques­tions. Not for ev­ery­one, but it’s worth see­ing the nifty nine-year-old kung-fu ex­pert Ju­nayde once he gets whirling with his mas­sive swords, if only for the PLEASE DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME no­tice that flashes up on screen.


Prime Sus­pect 1973 9pm, STV There’s the sink­ing sen­sa­tion of an op­por­tu­nity missed as this long-awaited Prime Sus­pect pre­quel ar­rives, seek­ing to do an En­deav­our on Jane Ten­ni­son. As the ti­tle sug­gests, it’s 1973: you can tell be­cause ev­ery­one keeps talk­ing about how it’s 1973 – “How can you not know about Water­gate? It’s all over the news,” says one de­tec­tive to an­other; “Mum, it’s 1973,” un­der­lines the young Jane (Ste­fanie Mar­tini). This clunk­i­ness sadly car­ries through into al­most ev­ery as­pect, as the usual mur­der case (a young pros­ti­tute killed in an al­ley­way) grinds into gear. From the fake rain to the dis­tract­ing sound­track to the slow-mo­tion scene in­tro­duc­ing some drug ad­dicts as though they were rock and roll zom­bies, clichés abound. Buried be­neath lies a po­ten­tially in­ter­est­ing story about a smart young woman try­ing to stake a place in the harsh boy’s club of the 1970s po­lice force. But, while Mar­tini is fine, she doesn’t ever sug­gest a young ver­sion of the Jane that He­len Mir­ren gave us. Maybe it will grow, but noth­ing re­ally sparks to life tonight.


Lethal Weapon 9pm, STV Un­less I missed it, the world was hardly cry­ing out for a TV se­ries re­boot of the 1987 Mel Gib­son-Danny Glover buddy cop movie that went on to launch a thou­sand se­quels. But, if we must have one, it could have been a lot worse than this. Clayne Craw­ford steps into Gib­son’s mad shoes as Riggs, the cop on the edge, left sui­ci­dal fol­low­ing the loss of his wife and throw­ing him­self into his work with the death wish reck­less­ness of a man who be­lieves he has noth­ing left to lose. Da­mon Wayans plays his new part­ner, Mur­taugh, an older, stead­ier by-the-book de­tec­tive and fam­ily man, be­ing even more care­ful than usual fol­low­ing a heart scare. Around their pleas­ingly ef­fec­tive odd-cou­ple chem­istry, the se­ries ups the high oc­tane con­tent, all guns, fast cars and stuff blow­ing up. Proper pop­corn. It feels weird see­ing an Amer­i­can cop show on ITV at prime­time these days, but it left me wish­ing they’d gone the whole throw­back hog, and put it out at teatime on Satur­days. Never hurt The A-Team.


Art­snight: Martin Scors­ese – True Con­fes­sions 10pm, BBC Two Across Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary, the Bri­tish Film In­sti­tute held a ma­jor Scors­ese ret­ro­spec­tive, and this week the di­rec­tor him­self flew in to Lon­don to ap­pear in con­ver­sa­tion on­stage, dis­cussing not only his own movies, but his still rag­ing pas­sion for cinema in gen­eral. The event sold out fast, but thank­fully the BBC snuck cam­eras in so we can all get to sit in. Film jour­nal­ist Nick James in­ter­views the great man about Taxi Driver, Rag­ing Bull, Good­fel­las, Wolf of Wall Street and more, and the themes of mas­culin­ity, re­li­gion, crime, and life in New York that keep re­cur­ring. It’s fol­lowed by Scors­ese’s real break­through movie, 1973’s Mean Streets, a raw back­street rock-and-roll opera caught be­tween pulp and the pul­pit, with Har­vey Kei­tel as Char­lie, a mafia boss’s nephew with heavy Catholic guilt, look­ing for a way to atone for his sins. The op­por­tu­nity comes in the ex­plo­sive shape of his pal, Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro), a holy, out of con­trol id­iot, who owes money he has no in­ten­tion of pay­ing back...

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