A handful of slightly lazy, behind-the-times PSAs to start with. The BBC is continuing to try to muscle its way into the “cinematic TV” market with a six-part adaptation of John le Carre’s post-Cold-War-novel The Night Manager. On the face of it, the show has been cast with everything you’d need to market it at home and abroad: a proper film star (Tom Hiddleston); an international TV star (Hugh Laurie); British TV royalty (Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander); and Mme Secretary-General from Spin (Aure Atika). Advance word was good, reviews have been fine… but to be honest I’ve had my fill, for now, of overrated British TV dramas which start well and fizzle away into either incomprehensibility or absurdity. So I’m sitting this one out (Sundays, BBC1, 9pm; last night’s on BBC iPlayer).
Somewhat later than we were promised, Dave has started showing what might or might not be the final run of Parks and Recreation on UK TV: season 5 for now, with a possibility of running straight through seasons 6 and 7 thereafter (double bills on Sundays at 11pm; last night’s available on demand and on the Dave website).
And last night, on the reliable Storyville strand, the BBC showed Stanley Nelson, Jr.’s excellent documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015), which was given a limited cinematic release last year. As well as containing vivid, moving, fascinating, and enraging archive footage, the film assembles (Bobby Seale apart) as comprehensive a collection of talking heads as could reasonably be expected nearly 50 years after the foundation of the Black Panther Party. A documentary about an organisation devoted to the defence of African-Americans is, of course, of more than just historical interest, a point which it makes eloquently and economically in its final scenes. Not entirely without flaws, but highly recommended (BBC iPlayer).
Now to the new stuff. Unpopcult favourite Person of Interest returns for its fourth season this week. My view is that the season 3 represented something close to the best that network TV has to offer, although this opinion wasn’t held by everyone (hashtag Root). Unfortunately, it looks as if channel 5 is showing the whole season in double-bills. On the plus side this might mean that it actually broadcasts all of the episodes; on the minus, it’s not a schedule which suits me, particularly if I want to review them as well. So although it offends the completist part of me, it may be that Unpopcult won’t be covering this season. I’ll definitely be watching, though (Wednesday 24 February, Channel 5, 10pm).
And The Blacklist is returning from its midwinter hiatus. One episode per week. That I can cope with. Reviews as usual (Friday 26 February, Sky Living, 9pm).
Also starting this week, among others: the penultimate season of Girls (tonight, Sky Atlantic, 10.45pm); and post-hiatus Grey’s (Wednesday, Sky Living, 10pm). And coming soon: HTGAWM, Quantico, Blindspot, Scandal, House of Cards.