thu 13/08/2020

tv

Emma, BBC One

Jasper Rees

There’ll always be Austen on the telly. As the Bard is to the boards, so is Saint Jane to the box. The six novels were published (though not all written) in a seven-year period in the 1810s. In a rather shorter tranche of the 1990s they were all adapted for the (mostly small) screen. They’ve now just been done again, on the whole rather less well than the first time round.

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Eastbound & Down, FX

Gerard Gilbert

Is HBO trying to tell us something? Is the once peerless cable channel signalling a midlife crisis? I only ask because Hung, the HBO comedy-drama that starts on More4 in mid-October, features a marginalised middle-aged basketball coach who turns to prostitution, while Eastbound & Down is about a Major League baseball pitcher who, “several shitty years later”, finds himself teaching PE back at his hometown high school.

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The Art of Dying, BBC Four

Adam Sweeting

The Great Unknown, the Last Enemy, the Big Sleep… it’s death we’re talking about, and Dan Cruickshank’s affectingly personal film succeeded in reaching the conclusion that there is no conclusion he could comfort himself with. “What if after death there’s nothing?” pondered Dan.

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Electric Dreams, BBC Four

Adam Sweeting

Now we've become so steeped in digital devices that we can’t count to four without the aid of a calculator, it’s the perfect moment to take a voyage back to an era when British Leyland manufactured cars in diarrhoea-beige and there wasn't any daytime TV.

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FlashForward, Five

Adam Sweeting

Blame it on J.J. Abrams. With the success of the unfathomable Lost, Abrams altered the consciousness of American TV drama, and made it obligatory to think in at least four dimensions. Hence we had Heroes, in which people could fly, were indestructible, or could alter the course of history. Abrams himself is back on the paranormal beat with Fringe (due back imminently on Sky 1), a kind of X-Files-through-the-Looking Glass.

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Peep Show 6, C4

Gerard Gilbert

David Mitchell’s smarty-pants TV panel show ubiquity – over-exposure even by Stephen Fry’s standards - may have started eroding the goodwill built up over five series of Peep Show, but all is forgiven once he’s safely re-garbed in the horribly plausible, drab office-wear of nerdish flatmate Mark. It’s difficult to imagine any other comic actor giving quite the same defeated peevishness to the line: “A new boiler... surely the least enjoyable way to spend a thousand pounds.”

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The South Bank Show, ITV1

Adam Sweeting

They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and despite its sometimes erratic quality control, the loss of The South Bank Show (ITV1) is going to be like having a leg sawn off TV's arts coverage.

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Trinity, ITV2

Gerard Gilbert

Secondary school teachers accused of not pointing their brighter students towards Oxbridge might feel vindicated by ITV2’s Trinity - although the messages were a little mixed. On the one hand the fictional elitist university college in this new teen dramedy-thriller is dominated by sadistic, floppy-fringed toffs and their debauched secret societies. On the other hand some state-educated freshers might quite like the idea of being asked by lithe, blue-blooded blondes, “Have you ever...

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The Cut (episode five), BBC Switch

Jasper Rees

“If you've been affected by any of the issues in this episode, click here.” I wouldn’t bother. Really. In fact I haven’t put the link in. They are – trust me - just ticking boxes. Some kind of Ofcom diktat. “If you’ve been affected bla bla bla,” it says when you click, “here are the details of organisations that can provide help and support.” It’s a long old list. You’ve probably not got the time, but here goes.

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Spiral, Series 2, BBC Four

Adam Sweeting

Though our French cousins like to boast of their superiority to the Anglo-Saxons in every sphere of endeavour, the Paris-based police dama Spiral, returning after a three-year absence, suggests that the Cartesian paradise across the Channel is under siege.

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