Public Service Announcement 23 of 2017: Riviera, Merciless (Dupla Identidade)

It may be light outside, but it’s dark on the box this weekend with a couple of new thrillers keen to bring a bit of a shiver to your living room.

First up, Sky Atlantic’s glossy new mystery, Riviera – all ten episodes are currently available on Sky Go/Catch-up, or you can catch the repeat of episode 1 tomorrow (Sunday) at 9pm and episode 2 on Thursday, also at 9pm. Julia Stiles plays an American art dealer married to billionaire Anthony LaPaglia and living the life of Riley on the Côte d’Azur till he dies suddenly and their beautiful life turns out to have been hiding something very ugly. Sky have been advertising this for what seems like my entire adult life, and the trailers featuring glamorous rich people behaving dubiously in a gorgeous location certainly look stunning – if nothing else, the French tourist board should be delighted. Whether it’s any good is another matter, but with a cast including Stiles, LaPaglia, Lena Olin and Iwan Rheon, and Neil Jordan one of the executive producers, it might well be worth a look.

Not to be outdone, meanwhile, Channel 4’s Walter Presents brings us 13-part Brazilian hit drama Dupla Identidade, renamed “Merciless” for UK audiences for some reason (what is this compulsion to change the names of subtitled dramas? See also Les Hommes de l’ombre/Spin) at 10.15pm, also on Sunday. Sounding decidedly nasty for my tastes, it follows a smart, handsome, alluring political operator who murders young women (of COURSE) for fun and wheedles his way into working with the police and messing with the head of the female (of COURSE) psychologist trying to catch him. Walter and a lot of the press around the show compare it to Dexter but it sounds a lot more like The Fall to me, and since I have no appetite for tv’s continuing fetishisation of the horrific murders of young women and the sadists who delight in carrying them out, I’ll be avoiding this one like the plague. If you watch it and I’m being unfair, though, let me know.


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