Ones to Watch
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.
Ishaan Khatter and Shubham Saraf in A Suitable Boy.