Fans of Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s delightfully deadpan mockumentary about vampire daily “life” in Wellington, New Zealand, may be interested/ pleased/ a little apprehensive to note that the FX tv adaptation of What We Do in the Shadows arrives on UK terrestrial tv screens this weekend. Beginning tonight (Sunday) on BBC2 at 9pm with a double-bill, the vampires are now Staten Island residents instead, and it’s a ten-part season (already renewed for a second one) instead of an eighty-ish minute movie, so I’m not sure how it’ll measure up, but Clements is the creator of the tv version and he and Waititi are both executive producers, so signs are a lot more promising than I would otherwise have suspected. I’m a big fan of Waititi’s, I love a supernatural flatshare and I really liked the original film, so I’ll be giving this version a go at least.
If the schedules are anything to go by, at some point our hypothetical spinoff project, Unpopcommonwealth, might become a reality. We had Coroner at the start of the year; The Heart Guy has just finished; Cardinal is ongoing; and we’re expecting Private Eyes in June.
And here, tonight, are a couple more shows from the corners of what used to be the Empire. Mary Kills People, from Canada, is a black comedy about an ER doctor (Caroline Dhavernas, so good in Hannibal), who has a side hustle: assisting the suicide of the terminally ill. This first season aired back in 2017 in Canada, and attracted generally good reviews and a shit-ton of nominations at the Canadian Screen Awards. You know, I have a feeling that this might be worth a look (9pm, More 4).
New Zealand, meantime, offers us The Bad Seed, a five-part psychological thrillers based on books by Charlotte Grimshaw. Dean O’Gorman from The Almighty Johnsons is in the cast, as one of two brothers with a shared dark history. No idea whether it’s any good (9pm, Alibi).
And plucky little Britain fights back with Years And Years, a BBC/HBO/Canal+ co-production written by Russell T. Davies and starring actual Academy Award winner Emma Thompson. It’s a family drama which takes us into an increasingly dystopian future. Again, I have no idea whether it’s any good or not, but I expect that we’ll all be getting told tomorrow that it’s a work of genius (9pm, BBC One).
Intriguing Canadian police drama Cardinal is back for its third season this weekend. If the first two seasons are anything to go by it’ll be a taut and nasty thriller, conspicuously well acted by the leads, Billy Campbell as Cardinal and Karine Vanasse as Delorme. I am also shipping them, although given that Cardinal’s wife REDACTED herself – or did she? – at the end of season 2 I have already braced myself for this as a likely example of TV’s latest unwelcome trend, a STUPID DEAD WIFE who gets in the way of a PERFECTLY GOOD SHIP (Saturday, BBC 4, 9pm, double-bills).
Netflix’s latest pitch for the YA market, The Society, drops today. It’s exec produced by Christopher Keyser (Party of Five) and Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer, a couple of Spider-Men, Limitless), who also directs the first two episodes. It’s about a group of teenagers who are transported to a facsimile of their hometown, sans adults, and if it’s even halfway decent – and perhaps not even that – it looks as if it might have “cult” written all over it.
And Netflix also has, as of now, the fourth season of Lucifer, which it picked up after Fox cancelled it. I’m still watching season 3 week-by-week, and I’m doing my best to keep myself from being spoiled, so I have no idea where s4 might go. However, from what I’ve seen so far of the third season the quality remains high, so once I’ve finished that I will be very much HERE for more #Deckerstar.
We thought Timeless was dead when the final episode of the second season was broadcast with no word on renewal. But for some reason – and I assume money’s at the root of it somewhere – NBC relented just a little, and ordered a two-part finale to allow the writers to wrap things up properly, and give viewers a bit of closure. After this, we’re definitely done. (Probably.) These episodes were shown in America a few months ago, and although I am entirely unspoiled, I assume that #Lyatt is endgame. Otherwise, why bother? (Tonight and next Tuesday, E4, 10pm.)
And perennial Unpopcult favourite Blindspot returned last night from a midseason hiatus. However, its American ratings aren’t great at the moment, so this might be its final run. I assume that #Patdotcom isn’t endgame, but it should be (Mondays, Sky Witness, 10pm).
Berlin Station has been officially cancelled by Epix after three seasons but, for the moment, in the UK, it lives on on More 4. Yes, a mere four months after we finished season one, season two appears on our screens tomorrow night (Thursday) at 10.05pm and I’m torn. I wanted to love season one, with its tremendous cast and its intriguing premise and its SPIES (I’m really into spies on tv) but, despite some great moments, the first season somehow ended up being slow, frustrating and significantly less than the sum of its parts. I want to love season two but, if it’s anything like season one, I don’t actually want to have to sit through it. The Richard Armitage, Michelle Forbes and Dr Dubenko triple whammy of performances is worth another shot at least, though, so I’ll review episode one and see where we go from there.
If producer-director Grant McPhee is correct – and presumably he would know – tonight offers the final chance for TV viewers to watch Big Gold Dream, his account of the development of the Scottish post-punk music scene between 1977 and the early 80s. It’s a heady, irresistible combination of archive footage and new interviews with many of the key players, telling the story of how Scottish independent music got from The Clash at the Edinburgh Playhouse in 1977 to Postcard Records and its ‘Sound of Young Scotland’. Although Postcard’s story has been told before – and for someone like me, who owns a couple of those early Aztec Camera 7” singles, it can’t be told often enough – Big Gold Dream does an admirable job of emphasising that the movement had its roots in Edinburgh at least as much as in Glasgow.
There isn’t a bad interview in the whole film, but two stars emerge. Bob Last, who with then-partner Hilary Morrison established Edinburgh’s Fast Product and Pop Aural labels, is delightfully deadpan. And Davy Henderson, of The Fire Engines, Win, The Nectarine No. 9, and The Sexual Objects, is such a brilliant interviewee that he even gets away with wearing shades indoors. If you have any interest at all in the music – or indeed the social circumstances – of this era, Big Gold Dream is unmissable (tonight, BBC Scotland, 9pm).
If, like tens of millions of people all over the world, you’ve been waiting TWENTY months for Game of Thrones swansong, chances are that, unless you’ve been in an internet-free, lead-lined box for the past month, you really don’t need me to tell you the second half of season seven is finally here. But let’s just run through it once more for old times’ sake. Yes, Winter has arrived at last: UK fans can watch the global simulcast of episode 8 at 2AM on Monday morning on Sky Atlantic, with catch-up available on Sky Go thereafter and the usual 9pm repeat too, for anyone feeling a bit more traditional. YES.
What else is there to say just now? I’ll be doing my usual weekly reviews so I’m going to save most of my chat for them but, meantime, let me just indulge in some wholly uninformed, spoiler-free speculation, based on nothing but internet theories I like, my own opinions and my virulent dislike of Daenerys, Mother of Dragons, Queen of Doing My Head In. Jon Snow is GOT’s answer to Captain America, and I’m pretty sure they’re both going to die. Daenerys is turning into the tyrant her father was, and she’s going to die too. (Hopefully.) Cersei: going to die. Jaime:…. you know what? Let’s save some time and go with “most of the cast is going to die.” And if there’s still an Iron Throne left standing at the end, I’d like to think Sansa and Tyrion will end up in power, whether Sansa’s Queen in her own right and he’s her Hand, or Sansa’s Regent for Jon and Dany’s kid. Will I be right? About most of the cast dying, probably. The rest? Not much longer till we find out!