Ones to Watch

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - TELEVISION -

The Sa­man­tha Mor­ton and Les­lie Manvillest­ar­ring Har­lots (Wed­nes­day, BBC2, 9pm), a drama set in the broth­els of Ge­or­gian Lon­don, first aired on lit­tle­watched ITV En­core, but now the BBC has ac­quired it.

The first episode of the two-part doc­u­men­tary Cuba: Cas­tro vs the World (Tues­day, BBC2, 9pm) looks at Fidel Cas­tro’s early years and his com­mit­ment to armed revo­lu­tion.

Stone­henge, we found tea leaves and chips some­where, then the Queen Mum beat the Nazis and now for­eign­ers are an­gry at us for un­clear rea­sons.”)

At least three di­men­sions

In the US, the most com­mon crime is clearly serial killing. In the for­mu­laically and grue­somely en­ter­tain­ing Prodi­gal Son (Tues­day, Sky One, 9pm ) our hero is Mal­colm Bright (Tom Payne), a con­sul­tant who spe­cialises in both wil­ful ec­cen­tric­ity and pro­fil­ing serial killers.

The cre­ation of a tele­vi­sion de­tec­tive is pretty sim­ple. Okay, says the net­work, we need to give our de­tec­tive at least three di­men­sions. How about: he fights crime, moon­lights as a baker and has a limp. Or: he fights crime, is a pro­fes­sional life coach and is a woman – yes, I’ve just de­cided women can be de­tec­tives too #no­tall­men.

They re­ally go to town on Mal­colm. He fights crime; he gives know-it-all lec­tures; he straps him­self into bed nightly to stop him as­sault­ing peo­ple with his night ter­rors; he has a spa­cious loft apart­ment that sug­gests the po­lice are over­funded. Oh, and his fa­ther is a serial killer. I prob­a­bly should have led with that.

We get flash­backs of a trau­ma­tised child Mal­colm. We see re­porters “shocked that one of New York’s prom­i­nent fam­i­lies may have pro­duced a mon­ster”. (The no­tion of “prom­i­nent New York fam­i­lies” pro­duc­ing “mon­sters” has been nor­malised re­cently; I as­sume this started devel­op­ment in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.)

This week, Mal­colm dis­cov­ers a grisly new killer with his fa­ther’s sig­na­ture style, and so Mal­colm vis­its him in prison. I’m not say­ing New York state is soft on crime, but Mal­colm’s da is some­how still per­mit­ted to per­form surgery on rich peo­ple and has a lovely cell with big book­shelves and a nice pat­terned rug. He is also played by Michael Sheen, so there are teeth marks in ev­ery­thing.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: TAHA AHMADD/ BBC/LOOK­OUT POINT

Ishaan Khat­ter and Shub­ham Saraf in A Suit­able Boy.

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