Lethal Weapon, Damon Wayans, Clayne Crawford

From Warner Bros Lethal Weapon on ITV Pictured: Martin Riggs [Clayne Crawford], Roger Murtaugh [Damon Wayans], Dr. Maureen 'Mo' Cahill [Jordana Brewster], Scorsese [Johnathan Fernandez], Captain Avery Brooks [Kevin Rahm] and Trish Murtaugh [Keesha Sharp]. This photograph is (C) Warner Bros and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: james.hilder@itv.com

LA LA cops – Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford), Roger Murtaugh [Damon Wayans], Maureen ‘Mo’ Cahill (Jordana Brewster), Scorsese (Johnathan Fernandez), Captain Avery Brooks (Kevin Rahm) and Trish Murtaugh (Keesha Sharp)

Small-screen spin-off from the movie franchise that badly misfires

★★ ITV, Friday, 3 March, 9pm

IT’S BIG, glossy and ITV certainly seemed chuffed to have it. But this US buddy-cop series is so dated it’s like a blast from 1987, the year the original movie appeared starring Danny Glover and Mel Gibson’s mullet.

As soon as we see Martin Riggs (played by Clayne Crawford) in a car chase cracking unfunny jokes, we know we are in a time warp. It’s as though Breaking Bad, The Killing, Cagney & Lacey and a hundred other fantastic crime series had never happened.

The formula of odd-couple cops being forced to work together, making jibes at each other while shooting the town up, is as flat as a burst balloon.

Riggs and Murtaugh

Riggs is the ex-Navy SEAL who’s thrust back to work after a family tragedy. Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) is the stiff-necked LAPD detective thrust back to work after a heart attack.

They encounter each other at a bank hold-up when Riggs decides to play pizza-delivery boy and stroll straight into the armed raid. Cracking unfunny jokes. Cheesy? It’s a quattro formaggio of predicatable mayhem.

From Warner Bros Lethal Weapon: SR1: Ep1 on ITV Pictured: Roger Murtaugh [Damon Wayans]. This photograph is (C) Warner Bros and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: james.hilder@itv.com


Up and running – Roger Murtaugh

All-action bromance

A freeway chase, a shootout with drug dealers, and you know what? Murtaugh soon feels alive in the company of his hot-headed buddy and this show could run and run…

ITV have placed it on Friday nights, when presumably the audience is in the mood for takeaway and mindless action. Explosions and fast cars rule here, just don’t expect an interesting story or any wit.

If you like the reboot of Hawaii Five-O, you’re welcome to this.

SS-GB, Sam Riley, Kate Bosworth

SS-GB - Episode: SSGB - Picture Shows: Detective Superintendent Douglas Archer. Detective Superintendent Douglas Archer (SAM RILEY) - (C) Sid Gentle Films - Photographer: Sid Gentle Films

Trapped – Detective Superintendent Douglas Archer (Sam Riley)

The Nazis rule Britain in this decent adaptation of Len Deighton’s thriller

★★★ BBC1 Sunday, 19 February, 9pm

WHAT WOULD have happened if the Battle of Britain had been lost?

SS-GB, based on Len Deighton’s 1978 novel, imagines how this scenario plays out. Buckingham Palace in ruins, Swastikas over Westminster and the SS breathing down our necks, is the vision offered.

As alternative histories go – we’ve had Fatherland, The Man in the High Castle, 11/22/63 in recent years – this BBC production is better at the personal drama than depicting the nightmare of Britain subverted by Nazism.

Starring Sam Riley

The Man in the High Castle had more impact at slapping us in the face with chilling and imaginative scenes of Axis occupation in the USA. Whereas in SS-GB, it is the plight of detective Douglas Archer that is the nightmare that keeps us watching. It’s basically a good police procedural with What-If backdrop.

SS-GB Dr Oskar Huth (LARS EIDINGER) - (C) Sid Gentle Films Ltd - Photographer: Screen Grab

Nazi piece of work – Dr Oskar Huth (Lars Eidinger)

Archer, played by Sam Riley (who looks too young to be a 1940s senior Scotland Yard detective), investigates what seems a simple black market murder. But when he is informed that Himmler’s right-hand Rottweiler, SS Standartenfuehrer Dr Oskar Huth (Lars Eidinger), is flying in from Berlin to oversee the case, it’s clear there is something darker going on.

The English detective is met by torn loyalties at every turn. His lover, Sylvia Manning (Maeve Dermody), puts him to shame with her ballsy defiance of the occupiers. His sergeant, Harry Woods (James Cosmo), also seems less under the thumb of the Germans than he should be.

SS-GB - Episode: SSGB - Picture Shows: Detective Superintendent Douglas Archer. Detective Superintendent Douglas Archer (SAM RILEY) - (C) Sid Gentle Films - Photographer: Sid Gentle Films

Allies – Archer with Barbara Barga (Kate Bosworth)

Kate Bosworth adds mystery

His own schoolboy son is growing enamoured of the smart Nazi uniforms. And finally, Archer has mixed feelings about the British resistance movement – for how long will he be able to work under Huth’s brutal direction? [Read more…]

Broadchurch 3 trailer

It’s coming back soon to ITV. Here’s a taster…

Case, Icelandic mystery on Channel 4

Case, Channel 4

In the dark – investigator Gabriela (Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir)

Fans of foreign thrillers set in cold climates should check out this latest intrigue from Iceland

★★★½ Channel 4, Tuesday, 24 January, 10pm

FOR A PLACE that’s so off the beaten track and with such a tiny population (332,000), Iceland is certainly making its presence felt on the crime-thriller TV scene.

BBC4 gave us the brilliant Trapped last year, and now Channel 4 has this new series in its Walter Presents strand. It begins with the discovery of a teenage ballet student who is found hanged on the stage of a dance school in Reykjavik.

In a multi-stranded story we meet the unglamorous cop partners Gabriela and Hogni, the ladies’ man attorney Logi, who has a group of female punk types hacking for him, and a variety of characters from the young victim’s life.

The director of Trapped, Baldvin Zophoniasson, is on duty here, too. It’s a skilfully told and gritty mystery about abuse, corruption and scandal. It was a huge hit in Iceland and has been acclaimed by the New York Times.

Case, Channel 4

Young and innocent? Julius and Elfa

Better Call Saul 3 trailer

Breaking Bad fans will love this trailer for the spin-off Better Call Saul, which returns to Netflix this spring. Who could forget Gus Fring?

Apple Tree Yard, BBC1, Emily Watson

Apple Tree Yard - TX: n/a - Episode: Apple Tree Yard - early release (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: (L-R) Costley (BEN CHAPLIN), Yvonne Carmichael (EMILY WATSON) - (C) Kudos - Photographer: Nick Briggs

Close encounter: Costley (Ben Chaplin) and Yvonne Carmichael (Emily Watson)

Gripping, mature psychological thriller about the disastrous fallout from an illicit affair

★★★★ BBC1, Sunday, 22 January, 9pm

THIS IS A THRILLER for grown-ups. There is no elaborate concept, fancy stunts or evil masterminds. Instead, it’s contemporary and down-to-earth as it delves into the life of a successful woman tempted to indulge in a raunchy affair.

With a hugely sympathetic leading performance by Emily Watson and an enigmatic lover portrayed by Ben Chaplin, Apple Tree Yard is a rich mix of the illicit and dangerous.

Watson is Dr Yvonne Carmichael, scientist, wife and mother. She is trapped in a web of intrigue when she takes a walk on the wild side with a mysterious stranger. Finding herself alone with him in the crypt of the House of Commons, Yvonne gives in to sudden temptation.

As she confides to her diary: ‘Before I met you I was a civilised woman…’

Who is Apple Tree Yard’s enigmatic lover?

The stranger is Mark Costley and they start to meet for risky sex – risky in that he is fixated with doing it in public places. She is just fixated with him.

Apple Tree Yard, Emily Watson and Ben Chaplin, BBC

Guilty look: Costley and Yvonne in the Crypt

But who is charming Mark? He seems at home in Parliament, says he is something in Crown properties management… but Yvonne starts to suspect he more shady than that. A spy, perhaps?

Apple Tree Yard is based on an excellent thriller by novelist Louise Doughty. I was a judge on the CWA Ian Fleming Thriller of the Year Award and can reveal that all the judges loved this smart, dark tale. It was shortlisted for the prize, but narrowly edged out by eventual winner, Robert Harris’s An Officer and a Spy. [Read more…]

The Witness for the Prosecution, BBC1

Programme Name: The Witness for the Prosecution - TX: n/a - Episode: Witness For The Prosecution (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: *** This image is under strict embargo until Mon 28th November 2016 00.01 *** L - R Emily French (KIM CATTRALL), Romaine Heilger (ANDREA RISEBOROUGH), John Mayhew (TOBY JONES), Leonard (BILLY HOWLE), Janet McIntyre (MONICA DOLAN) - (C) Mammoth Screen - Photographer: Todd Antony & Robert Viglasky

Rough justice: Kim Cattrall, Andrea Riseborough, Toby Jones, Billy Howle, Monica Dolan

Gripping, dark adaptation of Agatha Christie’s courtroom mystery

★★★★ BBC1, Boxing Day 9pm

I MUST COME CLEAN and confess all. I’m not an Agatha Christie fan. I admire her craft and ingenuity, but the stories’ often laughably convoluted solutions irritate me and the characters leave me cold.

So, this two-part production of The Witness for the Prosecution wrongfooted me – absolutely gripping, unsettling and tinged with sadness, it packed a far bigger emotional wallop than these costume pantomimes usually have.

The Witness for the Prosecution - TX: n/a - Episode: Witness For The Prosecution (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: ** THIS IMAGE IS UNDER STRICT EMBARGO OF 24th NOV 2016 ** Janet McIntyre (MONICA DOLAN) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Milk

Service without a smile: Janet McIntyre (Monica Dolan)

Toby Jones is particularly affecting as the poor solicitor John Mayhew, who takes on the seemingly unwinnable defence of Leonard Vole, played by Billy Howle. Vole is accused of bludgeoning his sugar mummy Emily French, former Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall.

Kim Cattrall’s plaything

On the prowl for company, Emily sees Leonard getting fired from his job as a waiter, taking him home and paying him to be her plaything.

All this is watched by Emily’s rather insubordinate maid, a performance veering between unhinged and sinister by Monica Dolan. When the maid finds her employer in a bloody pool on the carpet, she points the finger at Leonard.

Crime author Sophie Hannah is an Agatha Christie champion and often speaks of the Queen of Crime’s psychological depth. This has always eluded me, but The Witness for the Prosecution again breaks the pattern, as the twisted, tortured characters are truly absorbing.

The Witness for the Prosecution - TX: n/a - Episode: Witness For The Prosecution (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: This image is under strict embargo 3rd December 2016 00.01 Romaine Heilger (ANDREA RISEBOROUGH) - (C) Mammoth Screen - Photographer: Robert Viglasky

Swinging star: Romaine Heilger (Andrea Riseborough)

Andrea Riseborogh as Romaine

Andrea Riseborough as Leonard’s doe-eyed but hyena-hearted girlfriend Romaine is scary, while Mayhew, haunted by the loss of his son, is the story’s tragic hero.

Writer Sarah Phelps, who also adapted last Christmas’s BBC hit And Then There Were None, has done a great job in injecting emotion and passion – particularly in the bedroom.

And for once the period is not just nostalgic window dressing. The atmosphere is foggy and threatening, and you get an appreciation of what it was like in pre-war Britain to have no means or status.

See also…

Maigret’s Dead Man, Rowan Atkinson, ITV

ROWAN ATKINSON as Maigret. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

He’s back – Rowan Atkinson as Maigret

It’s a Gallic shrug for Rowan Atkinson’s return as the Parisian detective

★★½ ITV, Christmas Day, 9pm

‘TIS THE SEASON to enjoy cosy costume crime. Nothing too bloody or realistic. So while the Beeb is giving us Agatha Christie’s The Witness for the Prosecution, ITV has another helping of Rowan Atkinson’s Maigret.

This take on Georges Simenon’s creation hardly caused a ripple when it was unveiled to us with Maigret Sets a Trap last Easter. In fact, as I write this, Maigret is currently in last place in our poll of favourite 2016 crime series (see below). However, ITV seem desperate to make this work having finally run out of Poirot’s to make.

 This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Rough stuff – John Light as baddie Dacourt

There are 76 Maigret novels and 28 short stories to plunder. That would keep us up to our trilbies in Parisian sleuthing for decades.

Shaun Dingwall, Lucy Cohu and Aiden McCardle

So does Maigret’s Dead Man finally ignite into a must-see drama? It is handsomely produced and the cast features good performers, such as Shaun Dingwall, Lucy Cohu and Aiden McCardle.

 MAIGRET Pictured : LUCY COHU as Madame Maigret. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Lucy Cohu as Madame Maigret

And the dual tale – of a farmhouse slaughter in Picardy and the kidnap and killing of a man in Paris – are pretty juicy.

However, despite the money and expertise lavished on the production, it is plodding and unconvincing. Anyone who has got into Nordic noir in recent years or top French series such as Spiral over on BBC4, have got over the language hangup and enjoy the foreignness of it all. [Read more…]

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