The Herald - The Herald Magazine
Alison Rowat’s TV review
OYE of little faith. I am much enjoying the Olympic-standard backtracking going on over Line of Duty (BBC1, Sunday), which has gone in some eyes from “past its prime” to “best series yet” in the space of a couple of weeks.
Sunday’s episode, featuring a Heat-style shootout that Michael Mann would not have disowned, was so convincing that at one point I swerved to miss a bullet. Come episode end, the adrenaline surge was such that it was impossible to hit the pause button fast enough to see who was in *that* photo.
Not at all hitching a ride on the passing publicity bandwagon was Bent Coppers: Crossing the Line of Duty (BBC2, Wednesday). Actually, the first instalment of a three-part look at police corruption was better than some cash-in. It had talking heads ranging from investigative reporters to former officers; it had real tape recordings from a newspaper sting, capturing one bent copper telling a criminal how the Met operated a “firm within a firm”; and it had lots of cool black and white footage of Sweeney cars and folk in bad clothes.
You might have laughed at the outrageousness of it all, until it came to the interviews with some of the innocent people who were fitted up. It took one chap 47 years to clear his name. Bent coppers. Ted is right about them. Unless he is one, in which case he is wrong. BTW, pleased to see Ted continuing his transition to Scottishness, telling one suspect, “No evidence? We’ll give you no evidence!”
It was hard to see how anything could make up for the loss of Unforgotten, but Too Close (STV, Monday-Wednesday) came within touching distance, largely due to the casting of Emily Watson as Emma, a forensic psychiatrist, and Denise Gough as her patient Connie, dubbed the “yummy mummy monster” by the papers after driving her car off a bridge. There were two children on the backseat.
Dr Emma had to advise the court whether Connie was mad or bad. Connie pleaded amnesia, which meant the two women had to spend long, intensive sessions piecing together the past. Always handy in a drama, amnesia.
The head to heads were superb, each actor raising the standard a little bit higher each time. There was even room for some (bleak) humour. “You’re being very assertive today,” said Connie. “Very Helen Mirren.”
There were minor flaws. Would a husband feel the need to tell his psychiatrist wife that her patient was “not of sound mind”? I think they might have covered such basics during her years of training. When it came to providing explanations, Too Close became harrowing to watch. Perhaps not everyone would have been wholly sympathetic.
Watson and Gough were terrific throughout, as was the direction by Sue Tully, who used to play Michelle Fowler in EastEnders. From soap to calling the shots on a major drama; well done, that woman.
Competitive cake baking, competitive sewing, competitive interior designing and now competitive jewellery making in
All that Glitters (BBC2, Tuesday). What’s next, competitive putting the bins out? Philip May would be in with a shout in that.
Back to All that Glitters, if we must. Katherine Ryan flounced her way through the presenting while eight hopefuls, all jewellers – you could not have rookie civilians mucking about with soldering irons – tried to impress the judges. Unless you were into jewellery, or there was really nothing else to watch, an hour spent trying to find “Britain’s next jewellery star” hardly made for sparkling entertainment. I fear we reached peak competitive telly some time ago. Unless it’s competitive cleaning; I would definitely watch that.
Any time is a tough time for a new sitcom to launch, but Frank of Ireland (Channel 4, Thursday) is up against it more than most in these pandemic days, lockdown easing or no. While people are desperate for a laugh they are also very low. As such, they want the comfort of the familiar rather than the risk of the new.
Well, that’s my excuse for watching Schitt’s Creek for the third time.
Written by and starring Domhnall and Brian Gleeson (their dad is Brendan, of In Bruges and Paddington 2 fame), it’s the story of Frank (BG), a singer-songwriter with writer’s block who still lives with his mum, has an on-off girlfriend and a best friend in Doofus (DG). Otherwise, Frank hates everything and everyone.
It is never a good sign when a TV comedy references the movies or tries too hard to shock. Both smack of student comedy and both featured in the first episode. Anyone would think that Father Ted had never existed, such was the lack of original humour and ideas.
One or two funny lines might have rescued it, but there was nothing. Maybe it will grow on me. For now it has all the appeal of mould. Sorry, lads.