Public Service Announcement 27 of 2018: Cardinal, Reverie, Alias

Saturday brings the return of Canadian noir Cardinal for its second season. Like the first, it stars Karine Vanasse and Billy Campbell as cop partners solving nasty crimes in rural Ontario. I watched and, indeed, reviewed the first season, which I thought really very good indeed. Haven’t decided yet whether I’m reviewing this time round; BBC4 has gone yet again with those stupid double bills, which makes it much trickier. But I’ll be watching. The show has, incidentally, been renewed for at least two more seasons (Saturday 4 August, BBC4, 9pm).

There’s also an entirely new show starting tomorrow: NBC’s Reverie, which has quite the cast: Shaw from Person of Interest (Sarah Shahi), President David Palmer from 24 (Dennis Haysbert), Lilly from Cold Case (Kathryn Morris)… and, uh, Mohinder from Heroes (Sendhil Ramamurthy). It also has quite the high concept: Shahi is a former hostage negotiator trying to save people trapped in a virtual reality simulation, while struggling with Secret Pain. What it doesn’t have, unfortunately, is a positive critical response. Still, the season is only ten episodes long, and (most of) the cast looks highly watchable (Thursday 2 August, SyFy, 9pm, but also very early in the morning if you’re really keen).

And finally: as I always say, I don’t run a media company; I’m just a viewer. So I have no idea whether the falling out between UKTV and Virgin Media (my service provider) is the fault of one side, the other, or both. What I do know, though, is that it’s VM’s public response has been a crass insult to the intelligence of its viewers. Unless replacing Dave, Gold, Drama, Alibi, Yesterday, and the like with (checks notes) Horse & Country and IQ TV is a counter-intuitive stroke of programming genius. (Spoiler alert – it isn’t, it really isn’t.) 

On the bright side, though, both Virgin and Sky are presently providing on-demand access to every episode of Alias, a thrillingly nonsensical spy/action drama with a terrific cast: Jennifer Garner is the lead, but Ron Rifkin, Victor Garber, and Michael Vartan, among others, are also great. I suspect most viewers at the time would have expected Vartan to be the breakout star, but instead he was overtaken by Bradley Cooper, who occasionally pops up in a recurring role. I won’t be rewatching – partly because I never rewatch anything, and partly because Alias depends on its twists and turns – but the first season and a half at least are sensationally good.

More soon: Sky is about to launch Witness, its new Ameri-crime channel, with some new-to-the-UK shows.

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