This is my round-up of three things we watched on TV this week. I’d be interested to hear your recommendations.
The long-awaited fourth series of this excellent crime drama began this week. It focuses on cold cases, although I did wonder if this had been taken to the extreme when the investigation opens with a body found in a freezer. By the end of the first episode, the viewer learns there are a number of suspects in the running and what it is that connects them. It’s now up to the crime team to track down these people and build up a picture of what happened and who did it. Already, interesting sub-plots are beginning to develop, not least those involving the lead detective and her deputy.
What’s to like: the wonderful acting of Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar – truly a police partnership made in Hendon – the many yet believable strands unravelling to reveal the layered storyline, and the victim placed sensitively at the story’s centre rather than added like some gruesome appendage.
What’s not to like: Nicola Walker’s mouth and witnessing the rapid mental deterioration of her father, played by Peter Egan. And why was the cold case team called to a crime scene which was not yet a cold case?
After Life, Netflix
This British black comedy was uncharted territory for us as Mr Grigg can’t stand Ricky Gervais. However, it’s been recommended by several people so we are now on episode number 3 of the first series. Gervais stars as an angry, foul-mouthed, suicidal features editor of a local newspaper who cannot come to terms with the death of his wife. Recurring characters and situations look set to provide continuity and light relief, although we’re not warming to it just yet. Some laugh out loud lines for sure, but quite a lot of that awkward feeling of unease you get when watching anything Gervais has written. (And in the past twenty years I have never seen a local newspaper office – especially one for a freebie – so well-staffed and unproductive.) Sorry, but the jury is still out.
What’s to like: local newspaper office banter, well-known British actors, characterisation.
What’s not to like: the continual use of the ‘C’ word and I don’t mean cancer, Ricky Gervais’s teeth, the dog’s diet.
News of the World, Netflix
Call me old fashioned but I love a good Western. And this Western is definitely old fashioned. Anything in which Tom Hanks stars almost always guarantees quality and this film is no exception. Hanks plays an American Civil War veteran, now reading aloud stories from newspapers to paying customers in far-flung settlements. His trials begin when he decides to return a young girl taken in as an infant by Native Americans to her last remaining family. It’s a (mostly) gentle, epic journey that takes on mythic proportions as Hanks and the child travel across the country, encountering various obstacles along the way. Helena Zengel who plays the child is a joy to watch as her character unfolds. There might not be enough action in this film for some, but I found it breath-taking with its nods to modern themes of belonging, xenophobia and fake news.
What’s to like: beautiful cinematography, sterling performances, musical score.
What’s not to like: I liked it all.