It’s been quite a good fortnight in TV due to new a drama and an interesting new sitcom.
We start with one of the best dramas of the year in Criminal Justice a week long five-parter from former Barrister Peter Moffat. It followed Ben Coulter a normal boy from a normal family who after a night of partying with a mysterious stranger wakes up the next day and finds her dead. He is then questioned by the police, sent to jail, ruffed up by the prison big shot, made a drugs mule, befriended then betrayed by the old-timer, pleading no guilty to manslaughter, dropping the self defence angle, being found guilty and ultimately getting out on appeal. Moffat’s script crackled with a real point to make about the justice system from the coppers who want to get to the truth without going through the red-tape, to the lawyers who don’t care about the truth, the wardens who let the prisoners run the prisons and the prisoners themselves those who are in control and those who aren’t. However the casting was tremendous, Ben Whishaw as Coulter delivered a layered performance making you think maybe he did to it at some points of the tale. Pete Posslethwaite as long-time jailbird and ‘listener’ Hooch was his usual brilliant self delivering the ultimate sacrifice to ensure Ben’s freedom. ‘Very good actor’ David Harewood delivered a frightening performance as head honcho of the prison Freddie Graham while old hands Bill Patterson and Lindsay Duncan were both excellent as frustrated police officer Harry Box and determined solicitor Alison Slaughter. Rounding out the cast were the lesser knowns such as Con O’Neil who impressed me immensely as duty solicotor Ralph Stone who at first treats Ben as a client but later actually believes his innocence. The only thing that let the programme down for me was the final revelation but the scenes with Coulter on the outside prove its hard to get out of the system once you’ve been in it for a while.
CSI meets Time Team may seem like an odd combination and it wasn’t for some people’s tastes but personally I enjoyed Bonekickers which started last week on BBC1. With lines like “Use your archaeological imagination,” you know you’re not going to get groundbreaking thought-provoking stuff but for what it was it was good entertainment and value for money. The duo of Adrian Lester and Hugh Bonneville both of whom I rate very highly as actors did the show proud with Lester being the serious fact-filled one and Bonneville getting most of the laughs as Gregory ‘Dolly’ Parton. Although the decision to make former William and Mary star Julie Graham the leader of the team was a bit of a misstep because both of her male cohorts make her look weak in comparison. The first episode was all about the Knights Templar and false miracles with a surprise appearance by Paul Nichols as one of the Templar who lopped someone’s head off with a sword. The whole plot was something to do with a radical religious leader who wanted the Knights Templar back and was brainwashing orphans or some such nonsense but this was all about fun so when Julie Graham was fighting with Paul Nicholls on ropes with swords as fire engulfed them I sat back and lapped up the ridiculousness of it all as the baddies were burnt alive and the goodies went down the pub. Definitely one to watch again but it just for entertainment and not for the flawed scripts and the shoddy production design.
New comedy now with Lab Rats a new sitcom starring The Thick of It’s Chris Addison as a research scientist. Any sitcom with a laughter track runs the risk of being a bit coy and this one seemed to be stuck in the eighties having a particular feel of an anarchic Young Ones-type show. The gags weren’t great but Addison along with Geoff MacGivern at leat tried to give the script some kind of effort. Occasionally funny it didn’t bowl me over like I thought it would but I will give it a try because I’m nice like that.
Finally a bit of light-hearted fun for Saturday nights on BBC1 which will fill the void until the dancing comes back in September. That being Last Choir Standing. As the title suggests its a singing competition as choirs compete against each other and the winner wins something but I’m not sure what it is. The plus points for this show are in the choice of panel the big black doctor woman from Holby City is lovely, while Russell Watson is a good laugh and there are some helpful constructive criticisms from the blonde singing teacher lady. However the show does not need a presenter let alone two in smiley Mylene Klass and gruff Nick Knowles who looks like he keeps wanting to add MDF to various parts of the stage. The choirs range from Gospel to Camp to Choral to Street. However like in most of these talent shows you know who’s going through so choirs such as Dreemz who almost failed to make the grade but got an MD for the callbacks got through as did camp favourites Handbug of Harmonies and the Brighton Gay Man’s Chorus while there are favourites such as Sense of Sound and Bath Men’s Choir at this point its too early to tell.
Next Time: Harley Street and The Kevin Bishop Show