mon 23/05/2022

tv

The Essex Serpent, Apple TV+ review - tradition and superstition versus the march of progress

Adam Sweeting

Sarah Perry’s 2016 bestseller The Essex Serpent has been described as “a novel of ideas”, which almost sounds like a warning to anybody wanting to televise it. Happily, director Clio Barnard and screenwriter Anna Symon picked up the gauntlet, and have wrought a kind of contemplative television in which the story’s historical and philosophical preoccupations are expressed through landscape and imagery as much as dialogue and action.

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Ozark, Series 4 Part 2, Netflix review - crumbling consciences and a last stand

David Nice

As the final slew of episodes in the last series of Ozark begins, Marty and Wendy Byrde, ever more the Macbeths of Osage Beach, are “in blood stepp’d in so far” that we don’t much care about their fate.

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The Staircase, NOW review - addictive dramatisation of real-life murder investigation

Adam Sweeting

The real-life case of Michael Peterson and the death of his wife Kathleen in 2001 has generated a steady stream of TV documentaries, though this new series from HBO Max (showing on NOW) is the first time anybody has actually dramatised the story. With Colin Firth as Michael and Toni Collette as Kathleen, it’s a compelling mix of conspiracy theory, forensic detective thriller and legal drama, bristling with false trails and tantalising clues.

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DI Ray, ITV review - Parminder Nagra battles killer gangs and cultural stereotypes

Adam Sweeting

Somehow or other, fictional representations of the police have become an off-the-cuff index of changing times and evolving values. Dixon of Dock Green’s cops were stern father figures who knew right from wrong and considered it their duty to give villains a clip round the ear.

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Chivalry, Channel 4 review - Steve Coogan and Sarah Solemani's sharp Hollywood satire

Veronica Lee

It was inevitable that someone would soon tackle the question of how does Hollywood start behaving in the post-MeToo world, but few would have put money on a comedy drama starring Steve Coogan, the creator of Alan Partridge. But here it is, a whip-smart satire he co-wrote with Sarah Solemani, who also stars as Bobby, the indie filmmaker who is the polar opposite of his old-school (for which read, attracted only to women half his age) film producer Cameron.

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Ten Percent, Amazon Prime review - a hit and miss British makeover of the French comedy 'Call My Agent'

Helen Hawkins

When the English-language version of Dix Pour Cent (aka Call My Agent!) was announced, my cafe au lait went down the wrong way. The French TV comedy about machinations at a top-flight Parisian talent agency is a miraculous mix of insouciant charm, an hommage to France’s beloved cinema history and a lot of naughty fun, with just a hint of sadness at its core.

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Life After Life, BBC Two review - déjà vu all over again

Adam Sweeting

If we could keep living our life over and over again, would we get better at it? This is the premise underpinning Life After Life, the BBC’s four-part adaptation of Kate Atkinson’s novel.

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Why Didn't They Ask Evans?, BritBox review - a feast of murder, deception, misleading identities and forgery

Adam Sweeting

For a subscription service that lurks under the radar, BritBox has been surreptitiously delivering some impressive drama, including The Beast Must Die and the Anthony Horowitz-penned Magpie Murders. Now, with Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?, they’ve successfully had a go at bringing a new twist to Agatha Christie.

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Anatomy of a Scandal, Netflix review - sex, sexism and the abuse of power

Adam Sweeting

British political life in the Boris Johnson era routinely seems stranger than fiction, and this adaptation of Sarah Vaughan’s novel about a Flashman-style Tory MP should delight all those who view Westminster as a sewer of privilege, corruption and back-slapping old-boy networks.

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Gentleman Jack, Series 2, BBC One review - the queer Victorian heroine swaggers back in style

Helen Hawkins

Into the BBC One Sunday slot just vacated by Tommy Shelby of the Peaky Blinders returns Suranne Jones’s Anne Lister, another costume-drama maverick with striking headgear, definite leadership qualities and a way with a pistol. “They’re all a bit scared of you,” her younger sister Marian (Gemma Whelan) tries to explain to her after she has given an insubordinate servant 20 minutes to pack up and leave.

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