A busy week already; and here are another three shows, each in its own way a heavyweight. First up is Unpopcult favourite The Blacklist, with the irresistible James Spader bulldozing his way through the ethics of the FBI in order to track down master criminals while settling private vendettas. I’m a little concerned that the launch of a spinoff – The Blacklist: Redemption – runs the risk of diluting the parent show, particularly if we lose Ryan Eggold and Edi Gathegi to it on a permanent basis. (No word, yet, about whether UK viewers will have the chance to see Redemption.) I thought season 3, though, to be a significant improvement on its predecessor, so I’m looking forward to this. As usual, weekly reviews (Friday 4 November, 9pm, Sky Living).
Next up is Netflix’s The Crown, a 10-part dramatization of the early years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The Crown is (potentially) interesting as a TV show, and even more interesting for what it says about Netflix’s business model: Netflix, in short, presently attracts a predominantly young audience, so there’s plenty to watch if you’re Netflix and chill; not so much if you’re Netflix and over-the-hill.
The Crown, though, represents an unequivocal parking of tanks on the lawns of the British broadcast networks in the hope of interesting their viewers, and hoovering up the worldwide Downton audience into the bargain: costume drama, royalty, a top-notch cast, and all done on the sort of extravagant budget that the BBC, these days, can’t begin to compete with. Not only that, but it’s scripted by Peter Morgan, who has an untouchable track record in this area, with films such as The Queen (2006), Frost/Nixon (2008), and The Damned United (2009) on his CV. The idea seems to be that The Crown will, in due course, run to six seasons, one for each decade of Her Majesty’s reign. The critics who’ve seen the first couple of episodes seem to like them, but it might not be for me (Netflix, from Friday 4 November).
Finally, the first season of ten-part comedy-drama Atlanta makes it to the UK on Saturday. Donald Glover, who also writes and exec produces, stars as one of two cousins involved in the Atlanta rap scene. Advance word suggests that this is one of the best new shows of the year, and it’s already been renewed for a second season. (Saturday 5 November, 10pm, FOX UK).