Public Service Announcement 14 of 2017: Mr. Robot; Orange Is The New Black

A quick PSA from the frontlines of the streaming/broadcast interface. In the UK Mr. Robot is shown first on Amazon Prime, with TV broadcast coming along later. So, a few months after premiering on Amazon, season 2 starts tonight on Universal Channel at 9pm. I watched the first season, but I’m not sure it had quite enough about it to make me sign up for another go.

Wholeheartedly recommended, though, is the genuinely stellar first season of Orange Is The New Black, a Netflix original which finally makes it to linear broadcast tonight on Sony at 9pm.

Public Service Announcement 13 of 2017: Doctor Who

It’s the holiday weekend and I have chocolate to eat, so just a very quick reminder that BBC stalwart Doctor Who returns to UK screens this evening (7:20 PM on BBC1) with a lot going on: not only do we have Pearl Mackie’s debut as new companion Bill, but it’s also Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi’s final season as showrunner and eponymous hero, respectively. All three of them will have to get through the run without me, however as, much as I enjoyed the Christmas special, the show in general lost its spark for me some time ago. If you’re still watching, I’d be interested to hear what you think – comments are welcome as always.

Public Service Announcement 12 of 2017: Blindspot, Spin (Les Hommes de l’ombre)

Silly season has come a little early this year with two of Unpopcult’s favourite pieces of nonsense making their way back to UK screens this week.

Tonight (Thursday), 9pm on Sky Living, sees the return of season 2 of the gleefully bonkers Blindspot, which left off last time with REDACTED in terrible danger, the writers still trying to make fetch Roman happen, and everybody’s personal lives all over the shop. Will REDACTED survive? Who is the mole inside Sandstorm? Who is the mole inside Team Tat? And when will Jane and Weller bloody get over themselves and get back together? Declining US ratings mean this run might be the last chance to find out, but no matter: unpopcult will be watching and reviewing anyway. And hoping Rich Dotcom makes another appearance, because we flat-out love that guy.

In other “guys we love” (albeit in an entirely different way) news, meanwhile, my beloved Gregory Fitoussi is back in my tv life for the third and likely final season of Spin (Les Hommes de l’Ombre) – starting tomorrow on More 4 at 9pm. A political soap which is either a lot less clever than it thinks it is, completely hobbled by its ham-fisted subtitling, or more than likely both, the only two things keeping me watching are Gregory’s magnifique “villain” Ludo and how much fun we have talking about the show on unpopcult. I’m hoping the writers learned from the deeply disappointing season 2 that what we need is more Ludo not less, and that the awful Simon is really not all that, but we shall see – reviews every week as usual. À bientôt, j’espère.

Public Service Announcement 11 of 2017: The Good Fight; The Blacklist: Redemption; Chicago Justice; 13 Reasons Why

Some heavyweights in this PSA. Top of the bill is The Good Fight, the spinoff from Unpopcult favourite The Good Wife, in which it looks as if executive producers Robert and Michelle King have managed to get the band back together minus the lead singer. This time Diane Lockhart (the magnificent Christine Baranski) is the main woman: forced to reconsider retirement plans when she’s defrauded, she finds herself the “diversity hire” at an African-American law firm where Lucca Quinn (the returning Cush Jumbo) also works.

Good Wife Kremlinologists – such as me – will recall the rumours of disharmony on the show towards the end of its run, and wonder whether there’s any significance to the fact that David Lee, Marissa Gold, Elsbeth Tascioni, Kurt McVeigh, and Howard Lyman, as well as Baranski and Jumbo, are all involved in some way, whereas Julianna Margulies is not. On top of that Justin Bartha, Delroy Lindo, and Justified’s Erica Tazel are all on board. The Good Fight was well-received in America, but it’s only available there on a CBS streaming service. So for once UK viewers actually have slightly better access, albeit a little belatedly, to a US show. It’s already been renewed for a second season as well, so there’s no excuse not to dive in. CJ, I think, will be reprising her own role as Unpopcult’s reviewer of the Good Universe (Thursday 30 March, 9pm, More4).

Meantime, The Blacklist has spawned its own spinoff, Redemption, in which Tom Keen’s mother Scottie (Famke Janssen) runs a private black ops organisation. A recurring theme during this season of the parent show has been Tom’s increasing curiosity about his origins, so presumably we’ll get some answers, and some more questions, in standard Blacklist fashion. As I said when this show was first announced, though, I wonder whether its creation is the best move, particularly as Ryan Eggold and the charismatic Edi Gathegi have been diverted to it. On the other hand, it’s only running for eight weeks, and renewal looks unlikely at the moment, so it may be that it’s a problem which will resolve itself. I expect to review the first one at least; and at most, if I’m being honest (tonight, 9pm, Sky 1).

A couple of others: Chicago Justice is the latest in exec producer’s Dick Wolf’s Chicago franchise, with Philip Winchester, Joelle Carter, Jon Seda, and others showing us the ups, downs, ins, outs, and (I’m guessing) ships of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. I’m sure it’s fine, and in other circumstances I might even take a look, but the TV’s piling up in great unwatched groaning heaps at the moment (Thursday 30 March, 9pm, Universal).

And on Friday Netflix drops 13 Reasons Why, its adaptation of a YA novel about the story behind a teenage girl’s suicide. The advance critical word is strongly positive.

Public Service Announcement 10 of 2017: The Catch

CJ offered to cover the return of The Catch in her PSA the other day, but I declined because I thought she’d be mean about it. (And I was right. She would have been mean about it.) It’s strange that I kind of feel the need to be a little protective of this multi-million-dollar drama series, produced by the most successful network TV auteur of her day (Shonda), and starring some very well known actors (Enos, Krause, Walger, Simm). But it seems to me that The Catch hasn’t quite found its audience, and I think that’s a shame: it’s a breezy, engaging procedural/heist/caper drama with some good plots, great clothes, and a ship or two. Most importantly, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s looking at the moment as if this second season might be the last, although that might not be a bad thing, as The Catch is very much a show which shouldn’t outstay its welcome. I reviewed all of season 1; little chance of that this time round, given how much else Unpopcult has on its plate, but it’s a show which is definitely worth a look (tonight, 10pm, Sky Living).

Public Service Announcement 8 of 2017: Lethal Weapon

Well, here’s a thing. We’ve noted before that the big British TV networks have become more and more reluctant to show American TV at prime time on their mass-market channels; this, paradoxically, while US TV drama has become one of the most popular and respected art forms in the world. Admittedly I’m biased, but I’m still a little perplexed: Elementary and Hawaii Five-0, for example, regularly pull in a million viewers or so per week tucked away on UK cable channels, and one has to imagine that they would get more than that on a weekday night on a free-to-air broadcaster. But then, as I keep saying, I’m just a viewer; I don’t run TV channels; and I can therefore throw stuff like this about without being accountable for it.

Tomorrow night, though, ITV 1 is showing a freshman US network drama show in prime time: Fox’s Lethal Weapon. It’s adapted, of course, from the film series, the first of which was released 20 – yes, 20 – years ago. Damon Wayans is Murtaugh, Clayne Crawford is Riggs; banter will, I imagine, be exchanged, and cars chased. And it might just be the right choice for this slot: the American critics were lukewarm, but the viewers turned up in sufficient numbers to justify renewal for a second season. So it has name recognition, people like it, and it isn’t some niche cable drama with a bruised male antihero. This could work. Unpopcult is a little under the cosh at the moment – and we really don’t like it when real life gets in the way of TV – but one or other of us might take a look and report back (Friday, 9pm, ITV 1).

Coming soon: Shades of Blue, The Catch, and the return of President Jack Bauer. And The Good Fight has a UK broadcaster, so we’ll be all about that in due course.

Public Service Announcement 7 of 2017: O.J.: Made in America, Broadchurch, Catastrophe, Quantico, Black-ish, Taken

Just as American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson is one of the best TV dramas I’ve seen for years, ESPN’s Oscar-nominated non-fiction account of the Simpson story, O.J.: Made in America, is a truly outstanding documentary. It’s now available to UK viewers on the BBC iPlayer, and I can’t recommend it highly enough, although at three episodes, each clocking in at around three hours each, it represents a bit of a commitment. But don’t let that put you off.

Next, a couple of shows from this side of the Atlantic. I realise it’s disproportionate for me still to be annoyed about season 2 of Broadchurch, back this week for a third run, but taking TV too seriously is pretty much my niche. So here goes again: the decision to use the second season as a running criticism of the dramatic choices of the first season is one of the most insultingly stupid things I’ve ever seen on TV. In passing, I note that the Radio Times, which called season 2 “thumpingly good” while it was on, is now admitting that it “misfired”, which is a kind of moderate version of what I was saying at the time. So you can take its recommendation of the first episode of season 3 with a pinch of salt, I’d say. This time round I won’t be reviewing (Monday 27 February, 9pm, ITV).

I also thought season 2 of Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s marital dysfunction comedy Catastrophe to have fallen short of the standards of its first season: it had always been filthy and nasty, which I mean as a compliment, but in its second season it seemed to have misplaced the sweetness at its core and replaced it with a sour misanthropy, which made it much more difficult to love. So we’ll see what season 3 brings (Tuesday 28 February, 10pm, Channel 4).

Turning to American TV: first up is the return of Quantico. In season 1, beautiful FBI recruits – one of whom may be behind a deadly terrorist attack on Grand Central Station – slept with and betrayed each other, which makes it sound somewhat more appealing than it actually was. Lead character Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) is, in season 2, off to the CIA, probably to do the same sort of thing. I stuck it out through the first season, but there’s next to no chance of me watching any more (Thursday 2 March, 9pm, Alibi).

Also starting: season 3 of Black-ish (Tuesday 28 February, 8.30pm, E4); and Amazon Prime in the UK has NBC’s adaptation of Taken, available within hours of broadcast in the US. As ever, Unpopcult applauds this practice (Tuesday 28 February).