Top of the Lake: China Girl

Programme Name: Top Of The Lake: China Girl - TX: n/a - Episode: Top Of The Lake: China Girl (No. Generics) - Picture Shows: Detective Robin Griffin [ELISABETH MOSS] - (C) See-Saw Films (TOTL2) Holdings Pty Ltd - Photographer: Grant Matthews

Dark twist: Detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss)


Top-quality drama, set in Sydney, sees the return of detective Robin Griffin

★★★★½

BBC2, starts Thursday, 27 July, 9pm

JANE CAMPION’S Top of the Lake returns and it really is a distinctive drama. It unsettles and then slowly immerses you in a troubling scenario involving the sex trade and murder.

Detective Robin Griffin, played by Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss again, returns to Sydney after her four traumatic years in New Zealand. It was there that she dealt with the child sex-ring case, which was dealt with in the original 2013 series.

She is fragile and struggling after her experiences, not helped by the sniggers and chauvinism of her colleagues in Sydney. She is also still haunted by the daughter she gave up at birth. However, it is a frosty welcome that she gets. Even her brother Liam turfs her out of his flat when he needs her room back.

Gwendoline Christie as Miranda

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 18/07/2017 - Programme Name: Top Of The Lake: China Girl - TX: n/a - Episode: Top Of The Lake: China Girl (No. Ep 1) - Picture Shows: NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL 00:01HRS, TUESDAY 18TH JULY, 2017 Detective Robin Griffin [ELISABETH MOSS], Miranda Hilmarson (GWENDOLINE CHRISTIE) - (C) See-Saw Films (TOTL2) Holdings Pty Ltd - Photographer: Sally Bongers

Cliff-hanger – Detective Robin Griffin [Elisabeth Moss], Miranda Hilmarson (Gwendoline Christie)

Her cop partner, Miranda (Game of Thrones‘ Gwendoline Christie) is one of her few allies. Robin’s hope is that by throwing herself into work she will find some equilibrium again.

She is confronted by a disturbing case. The body of a young woman is swept onto Bondi Beach. While there seems little chance of finding the killer of ‘China Girl’, Robin discovers that the victim did not die alone. The case drags her into the seedier, darker recesses of the city.

Oscar-winning director Jane Campion has created and written a brooding, engrossing six-part series. She lets the story unfold visually in passages without dialogue, pulling you in as you become curious about the characters’ lives.

Nicole Kidman as Julia

Programme Name: Top Of The Lake: China Girl - TX: n/a - Episode: First Look (No. First Look) - Picture Shows: Julia (NICOLE KIDMAN) - (C) See Saw Productions Australia - Photographer: Sally Bongers

Controlling mother – Julia (Nicole Kidman)

Among them are Mary (Alice Englert), a student with an enigmatic ‘professor boyfriend’ Puss (David Dencik). She is the difficult adopted daughter of Julia (Nicole Kidman) and Pyke (Ewen Leslie).

Several storylines overlap, including one in which a group of sleazy young men compare notes on sex workers they use who advertise themselves on the internet.

It is a menacing world for Robin Griffin to get into, but a gripping and brilliantly made drama for us to follow.

Dead Beautiful starring Thierry Godard

Dead Beautiful episode 1

Beauty and the beast: a serial killer is on the loose

French cop procedural with good storytelling and a chilling case

★★★½

All 4, from Friday, 4 August 

DEAD BEAUTIFUL is the latest foreign-language crime series to hit ALL 4’S Walter Presents strand. This has offered some terrific offbeat foreign dramas since its launch in January last year. From Deutschland 83 to The Swingers, the quirky best of Norway, France, Mexico, Switzerland and other countries have been sifted for some minor gems.

Dead Beautiful, a French series, is decent enough, but not particularly special. It’s a police procedural of the type Britain already produces in abundance – from Endeavour to Grantchester and on and on.

It is chock-full of the usual plot suspects – dead women, a crumpled detective, forensics, where were you on the night of the 14th?

Thierry Godard as Martin

What it has got is an intriguing opening story about a serial killer. Each episode is a separate case and if they all have as many twists and gasps as this one, the series should satisfy many crime fans. The stories are based on a successful series of books  by Alexis Lecave, who is also the screenwriter here.

Thierry Godard in Dead Beautiful

Complicated love life: Thierry Godard as detective Martin

In addition it has Thierry Godard. He is a much in-demand French star with more than 50 films on his CV. He should be familiar to BBC4 fans of Spiral, in which he played Gilou. Here he steps up from the cast to lead star as detective Martin, on the trail of a nasty killer who targets women with a crossbow.

The murderer selects his victims from lonely-hearts columns, always seeking women with light eyes and chestnut-coloured hair.

The stakes are high for Martin and his team. At times the hunt for the elusive killer feels like an adrenalin-fuelled evening at a top online casino.

Dead Beautiful’s plot twists and good characters

There are nine 100-minute episodes. This allows the makers to flesh out the characters and move beyond the procedural stuff, which in many series can get boring.

So we get an insight into Martin’s complicated love life – lovers include a colleague, a journalist, and his ex-wife, who he is still sleeping with – and his relationship with his fiery actress daughter.

Summer is the season of repeats and dud shows that can’t usually be placed anywhere else in the schedules during other times of the year. Dead Beautiful should help filled the dog days.

Ozark with Jason Bateman, Laura Linney Trailer

This new dark drama coming to Netflix on 21 July looks pretty good. It’s got Jason Bateman and Laura Linney as Marty and Wendy Byrde. Marty is a financial adviser, but his sideline is money-laundering for a Mexican drug cartel. When things go disastrously wrong, Marty and Wendy have to grab their kids, hit the road and… well, check out the trailer.

Riviera, Julia Stiles, Sky Atlantic

Riviera Julia Stiles

High stakes – Julia Stiles as Georgina Clios

Super-intrigue among the super-rich on the Côte d’Azur

★★★ Sky Atlantic, Thursday, 15 June, 9pm

BEAUTIFUL CARS and yachts, lush scenery and a top-of-the-range cast make this thriller a feast for the eyes from the moment it gets going. Fortunately, the intrigue ensures there is more to it than surface gloss.

Julia Stiles, of Bourne fame, heads a cast that includes Adrian Lester, Iwan Rheon and Lena Olin. She plays Georgina Clios, an art curator who travelled the world buying masterpieces for billionaire Constantine (Anthony LaPaglia). He eventually decided to acquire her, too, and they married.

Riviera - Series 01 Sky Atlantic

Watchful – Adrian Lester as Robert Carver

Secrets and betrayals

When we meet them the marriage is a year old. This is a couple who can have a telephone conversation in which neither bats an eyelid over a snap decision on buying a painting for £30million.

However, an explosion on a super-yacht in Monte Carlo suddenly opens Georgina’s eyes to the fact that Constantine kept many secrets from her.

His ex-wife and the local detectives ask questions that alert her to his many secrets and betrayals. The first episode finishes on a neat cliffhanger that should make most thriller fans eager to see more.

Riviera - Series 01

Live fast, die rich – there is a lot at stake for the glitterati

Created by Neil Jordan

This is a terrifically lavish 10-parter from Sky Atlantic, created and co-written by Neil Jordan, who won a screenplay Oscar for The Crying Game. It is so intimidatingly a portrait of the super-rich, it makes The Night Manager, which it clearly is its companion piece, look cheap.

It even seems to have more yachts, super-yachts, bling cars, motorbikes and other hardware than a Bond film.

However, the theme of a woman delving into her her husband’s menacing secrets, is rich enough to make Riviera a high-class treat.

Orange Is the New Black 5 trailer

Things are hotting up for the new series, starting Friday 9 June. Check out the preview…

Jack the Ripper, Michael Caine on DVD

Jack the Ripper Michael Caine JaneSeymour

Ripping yarn – Michael Caine and Jane Seymour

★★★ DVD

Special features

jacktheripper BD 3D bigTHEY DON’T MAKE ‘EM like this anymore. Produced in 1988 to mark the centenary of the most infamous serial killer of all, this Michael Caine two-parter was a huge TV hit when first aired.

Not only did the mini-series coincide with the centenary, it was also broadcast in the US and UK in October, right in the middle of the timeframe of the original five Whitechapel horror-killings – 31 August-9 November 1888. To add to the versimilitude, Hugh Fraser as Met Commissioner Sir Charles Warren, even wore the real Warren’s clothing.

To modern eyes, however, this Thames-CBS co-production looks dated. It has a cloyingly over-the-top musical score, while the production period look just has a very fake, stagey feel to it. Today’s period dramas look far, far more convincing. Nevertheless, it won two Golden Globes (Caine and Amand Assante) and a Bafta (Assante).

Jane Seymour and Lewis Collins

The American money perhaps helped to finance an interesting cast. In addition to Caine and Assante, there were roles for Jane Seymour of Dr Quinn and Live and Let Die fame, The Professionals‘ Lewis Collins pops up, along with Susan George and the terrific Ray McAnally (My Left Foot, The Mission).

Jack the Ripper starring Michael Caine

Mean streets – as recreated in Pinewood Studios

According to Jane Seymour, Caine preferred to do only one take on his scenes before heading off for lunch with his wife. Having said that, he throws himself into the role of Chief Inspector Abberline.

The plot unfolds as a whodunit but has no great revelations about whodunit, largely inspired by the once popular Masons/Royal Family theories. It’s diverting as a relic from TV’s past, but not thought-provoking or particularly gripping.

Distributor: Network
Blu-ray/DVD RRP: £19.99/£14.99
Running Time: 198mins / 189mins
2 Discs
Special Features: Image Gallery. Feature-length widescreen version. Brand-new Dolby 5.1 mix
Certificate: 15

Line of Duty 4, Thandie Newton

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 12/03/2017 - Programme Name: Line of Duty - Series 4 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Series Iconic **EMBARGOED UNTIL SUNDAY 12TH MARCH 2017** Detective Chief Inspector Roz Huntley (THANDIE NEWTON), Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON), Superintendent Ted Hastings (ADRIAN DUNBAR), Detective Sergeant Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Des Willie/ Aidan Monaghan

Suspicious minds – Det Chief Inspector Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton), Det Sergeant Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), Det Sergeant Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure)

Another breathless and twisting engagement with the corruption-busters

★★★★ BBC1, starts Sunday, 26 March, 9pm

LINE OF DUTY has got better and better in previous series. Sadly, there is no Keeley Hawes this time, but the show has mixed up the chemistry with another interesting new face – Thandie Newton.

The corruption-busters played by Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar return. This time there is a bit of needle between newly promoted Kate Fleming (McClure) and the not newly promoted Steve Arnott (Compston).

Thandie Newton, familiar from films such as Crash and most recently TV’s Westworld, here plays DCI Roz Huntley. Her team captures a serial killer and straightaway she is under pressure to make a charge stick.

Line of Duty‘s game of mirrors

The fly in the ointment is her forensics guy, Tim Ifield (Jason Watkins), who suggests the educationally backward suspect has been framed.

Programme Name: Line of Duty - Series 4 - TX: n/a - Episode: Line of Duty - Series 4 - Ep 1 (No. 1) - Picture Shows: **EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01HRS THURSDAY 16TH MARCH 2017** Tim Ifield (JASON WATKINS) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Aidan Monaghan

Bringing corruption to light? Tim Ifield (Jason Watkins)

The beauty of Line of Duty is that investigating police wrongdoing is a dangerous game of mirrors, and once again the viewer is not sure who is good and not so good. The immediate face-off is between Roz and the slightly creepy Tim. But is Roz bent?

Or is Tim playing some kind of game with her? It is Tim who gets AC-12 involved at looking into Roz.

Lee Ingleby as Roz’s husband

As happened with the opening of series 3 and the explosive introduction to Daniel Mays’s  off-kilter cop Danny Waldron, once again we’re swept along in a breathless opening episode. An abduction, a frantic chase and an explosion – it’s exhausting to watch.

Programme Name: Line of Duty - Series 4 - TX: n/a - Episode: Line of Duty - Series 4 - Ep 1 (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Detective Chief Inspector Roz Huntley (THANDIE NEWTON), Detective Sergeant Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Aidan Monaghan

Watching the detective – Roz Huntley and Kate Fleming

Lee Ingleby plays Roz’s husband and, though he doesn’t have much to do in the opener, it is clear that her private will be a vital part of the drama.

As we’ve come to expect, the performances are compelling and the atmosphere as claustrophobic as the Victoria Line during rush hour.

It’s refreshing to have such a well-written crime series that breaks free of the traditional British obsession with period whodunits. This is rough and tough, and the climax at the end of episode one is almost absurdly nail-biting.

Broadchurch 3 – back to its best?

ITV BROADCHURCH SERIES 3 Pictured L-R: CHARLIE HIGSON as Ian,SEBASTIAN ARMESTO as Clive,JULIE HESMONDHALGH as Trish,SARAH PARISH as Cath,MARK BAAZELEY as Jim,OLIVIA COLMAN as D.S. ELLIE MILLER as Olivia,JIM HOWICK as Aaron, DAVID TENNANT as D.I Alec Hardy,GEORGINA CAMPBELL as D.C. Katie Harford, ANDREW BUCHAN as Mark,JODIE WHITTAKER as Beth,CHRIS MASON as Leo and LENNY HENRY as Ed. 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

Cliffhanger – Charlie Higson, Sebastian Armesto, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Sarah Parish, Mark Bazeley, Olivia Colman, Jim Howick, David Tennant, Georgia Campbell, Andrew Buchan, Jodie Whittaker, Chris Mason and Lenny Henry

SEASON ONE of the seaside mystery made a splash, season two sank without trace. So is David Tennant and Olivia Colman’s crime series back in the groove with this third outing?

I would say, so far so good. The rape story has been harrowing but sensitively portrayed. National Television Award winner Julie Hesmondhalgh has been very good, while up to now Lenny Henry and Sarah Parish have not had too much to do.

Georgina Campbell as Miller and Hardy’s cop colleague is clearly going to be trouble. Charlie Higson has been a revelation as the shifty-looking husband of rape victim Trish (Hesmondhalgh).

Mind you, everyone other than the cops does look shifty. The red-herring addiction of the show’s writers was a predictable and overused trait of the previous series too. But it has been a pretty good first couple of episodes. What do you think?

Is the new series of Broadchurch better than series 2?

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