Midwinter of the Spirit, ITV, Anna Maxwell Martin, David Threlfall

From ITV Studios Midwinter Of The Spirit on ITV Pictured: Lol Robinson [Ben Bailey Smith], Rev. Merrily Watkins [Anna Maxwell Martin] and Rev. Huw Owens [David Threlfall]. Merrily is deeply human in her doubts and scepticism, but her knowledge of the paranormal underworld brings her to the notice of local police who need her advice in the investigation of a grisly murder. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc 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

Chill factor: Lol Robinson (Ben Bailey Smith), the Rev Merrily Watkins (Anna Maxwell Martin) and the Rev Huw Owens (David Threlfall)

A crime series with a supernatural twist

★★★½ ITV, starts Wednesday, 23 September, 9pm

GENRE-CROSSING crime series look set to be come a bit of a trend. We’ve recently seen Fox’s Wayward Pines with Matt Dillon, a sci-fi tale with crime elements. ITV Encore’s The Frankenstein Chronicles, starring Sean Bean, ‘reimagines’ the story from the standpoint of a police investigator.

Meanwhile, James Nesbitt has been filming Sky1’s high-concept series Lucky Man, based on comic-book legend Stan Lee’s idea about a detective who finds a magic bracelet that brings him good luck.

And here we have Midwinter of the Spirit, a three-parter that mixes supernatural themes with crime ingredients. It would appear that the cop-drama clogged TV schedules have bled the genre dry, and writers are now juicing the formula up with sci-fi/horror twists.

Anna Maxwell Martin as Merrily

Anyway, the first thing to say about Midwinter is that it does what it says on the tin. It is definitely creepy, helped by the fact that it’s based on Phil Rickman‘s chilling novels and a terrific performance by Anna Maxwell Martin.

She plays the Rev Merrily Watkins, a single mum with a teenage daughter who’s taken on a new role in her small-town parish – that of exorcist. [Read more…]

The Americans 3, ITV Encore, Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell

From Fox  The Americans: SR3 on ITV Encore  Pictured: Elizabeth Jennings [Keri Russell] and Philip Jennings [Mathew Rhys].

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are back in The Americans

IT WENT out in the States back in the spring and finally The Americans series 3 arrives in the UK. ITV have switched it to its subscription channel ITV Encore, from Wednesday 19 August 10pm. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a substandard series shoved into the backwater equivalent of 5USA. ITV has high hopes for Encore and Americans 3 was a critical hit in the US. If you haven’t seen this unheralded classic thriller, we’re back in Reagan-era 1980s USA with two implanted Soviet super-spies, Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell). The pressure on them mounts this time as their bosses want them to turn one of their all-American children, teenager Paige (Holly Taylor), into a spy, too. It’s a superbly made hour of tension and well worth getting into. UK viewers will start to hear more and more about ITV Encore in coming months, as the network will be debuting a string of high-profile dramas here, including The Frankenstein  Chronicles with Sean Bean and its crime drama with a supernatural twist, Midwinter of the Spirit, with Anna Maxwell Martin. So comrades, settle back for some pretty hearty dramas on the new network this autumn and winter…

CrimeZapper – True Detective 2, Lewis 9, Prey 2

• The4260176028_720a752904_o trailer for True Detective 2 – below – tells us one thing we already knew – it’s going to be very different from the superb first season with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. But Colin Farrell is certainly up to playing Ray Velcoro, its compromised detective in the industrial city of Vinci, LA County. You may also spot Kelly Reilly in there, having escaped for the moment from the uninspiring ITV-Lynda La Plante series Above Suspicion. She’s playing the morally compromised wife of Vince Vaughn‘s character Frank Semyon, a criminal – which should be interesting casting. The good news is that novelist Nic Pizzolatto, who created and wrote the dense, gripping first series, is back, with Justin Lin (Star Trek 3) directing eps 1 and 2. Goes out on HBO in the US in June.

• Also returning, for some reason, is Lewis. It’s hard to get excited about this. ITV’s drama honcho Steve November says, ‘We are delighted that Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox are returning for a ninth series of LEWIS_THE_SOUL_OF_GENIUS_12Lewis. Each story is complex and intriguing and Detectives Robbie Lewis and James Hathaway are a formidable partnership much loved by ITV viewers.’ It’s true that viewers do still tune in, but the format is flat as discarded beer these days in the face of far more interesting dramas, from Happy Valley and Line of Duty to Better Call Saul and The Killing. Even Kevin Whately seems over it, telling Radio Times last September: ‘I would probably do one more. But everything has a life span and I think it’s gone on long enough. There were 33 Inspector Morse stories and we’ve now done 30 Lewis. I suppose it’s a sentimental thing but I wouldn’t want to do more Lewis than we did Morse because I do still think of it as an offshoot.’

Kitty• Some interesting predictions on which US series could be getting renewed, including my fave Better Call Saul and Wayward Pines, starring Matt Dillon and coming soon to Fox UK (preview coming right up). Check out 2015 TV – Which Shows Will Be Renewed? for a lively list, including some crime series that should make their way to Europe in coming months. American Crime got an interesting review on Den of Geek over the racial issues it raises, while CSI: Cyber, pictured, has been stirring interesting coverage Stateside about its take on the psychology of online crime.

Prey went out on ITV last year, starring John Simm as a cop on the run. It past most viewers by unnoticed, but apparently did well enough for ITV to commission a second outing of the show. No Simm this time, but Philip Glenister and Rosie Cavaliero will be starring. Glenister is a prison officer whose turn it is to go on the run…

• It’s a cracking cast for Midwinter of the Spirit, ITV’s newly ordered crime drama with a supernatural twist. Anna Maxwell-Martin plays Merrily Watkins, a vicar and exorcist, with David Threlfall – terrific in last week’s Code of a Killer – as the Rev Huw  Owen, her mentor. Based on books by Phil Rickman, Midwinter of the Spirit sees Merrily encountering the case of a horrifically murdered man, one that convinces her that satanists are behind it…

• It’s crime with a fantasy twist for Sky 1, which has allied with legendary comic-book writer Stan Lee – co-creator of the likes of Spider-Man, Hulk and many more – to produce Lucky Man. Starring James Nesbitt, Eve Best, Sienna Guillory and Darren Boyd, this is the story of DI Harry Clayton (Nesbitt), a cop from Central London’s notorious Murder Squad, who is given a charm that seems to confer upon the wearer the ability to control luck. It should be on our screens next year.

Arthur-&-George-DVD-3D• Interesting DVD releases include ITV’s Arthur & George, the fascinating story of Arthur Conan Doyle’s involvement in the case of the wrongly accused solicitor, George Edalji, who was jailed for killing farm livestock. Martin Clunes plays the creator of Sherlock Holmes in a fine adaptation of real events that were worthy of his fictional sleuth.  Also coming soon from ITV Global Entertainment will be the second series of The Doctor Blake Mysteries, the Aussie drama starring Craig McLachlan as the eponymous 1950s doc who solves mysteries. Finally, there’s a chance to step into the TV time machine and experience Saturday nights long before The X Factor. The 22nd and final series of Dixon of Dock Green is being released on DVD on 11 May. When Dixon shuffled off the schedules for the final time in 1976 the series was already a bit of an anachronism, blown away by grittier, more realistic series such as The Sweeney, and not helped by the fact that lead star Jack Warner was aged 80 when it concluded. True, Dixon by this stage was retired and working as a ‘collator’ at the East End nick, but the series was badly out of sync with the realities of policing by that time. Still, as a glimpse of a bygone era of cosy British television drama, it is captivating. Let’s just hope Kevin Whately isn’t still playing Lewis when he’s 80.

Dixon of Doc Green :Domino

Evening, all. Jack Warner, centre, and the jolly rozzers of Dock Green

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