The trickle of post-Christmas tv is turning into a stream, as this weekend brings us two very different, but equally cosy period dramas with the return of ITV1’s Mr Selfridge and the debut of BBC1’s The Musketeers – both set to duke it out for ratings supremacy at 9pm tomorrow (Sunday) night.
Mr Selfridge is a strange one: the first season of the “shipping and shopping” drama was a demented mix of the amazing (Henri, Miss Mardle, Lady Mae) and the appalling (anyone with “Selfridge” in their name), worth watching principally for gorgeous Gregory Fitoussi although the rest of the supporting cast were great when they got a look in. Unfortunately, every time Mr Selfridge himself or his love interest/wife/family popped up (which was a lot) the show turned teeth-grindingly annoying. Since his name is in the title, though, sadly the focus is likely to remain on “Harry”; the second season kicks off five years on, with Mr S pining for the estranged Mrs S and the kids, while Europe hovers on the brink of war. I’m not looking forward to any of that. We are promised the return of Monsieur Fitoussi at some point, although goodness knows when that’ll be – advance reports (ok, unpopculter e) indicate it might not be in the first ep, so that’ll make sitting through it a challenge. But come on, Fitoussi fans, we can get through it together. I’ll review it here as soon as I can, but if you want a head start, the first ep is already available on iTunes.
Anyone more inclined towards the swashbuckling side of the shipping genre, however, may want to try out the BBC’s new take on the decidedly old story of The Three Musketeers. Starring various modestly attractive young men, it looks suspiciously like the love child of Merlin and Robin Hood with Atlantis acting as midwife, so I doubt it’ll tax anyone’s brain cells too much but it’ll probably be an inoffensive watch. And Peter Capaldi’s in it – as that famous Scotsman Cardinal Richelieu – so it can’t be all bad.
If we’re going back in time with Sunday’s tv, though, Monday brings us right back to the frightening future with new science-fiction drama Helix on Channel 5 at 10pm. It doesn’t sound remotely original, of course: a deadly virus breaks out at a remote facility, a bunch of scientists travel out to investigate, they find more than they bargained for… so far, so Syfy and, depending on who you listen to, it’s either a worthy addition to the X-Files and Fringe branch of creepy, clever sci-fi, or it’s idiotic nonsense. I have a suspicion it’ll be a bit of both, but the exec producer is Ron “Battlestar Galactica” Moore and I like the look of the trailer (and of Billy Campbell, on leading man duties), so I’ll be giving it a go anyway. Review of the first ep will be up here in due course.