Public Service Announcement 17 of 2017: The Blacklist

Now that The Blacklist: Redemption has finished its run, The Blacklist is returning, with Dembe the Blacklister of the Week in the next episode. Given what happened before the hiatus I can’t see that ending well.

As for Redemption: it hasn’t been renewed, and I can see why not. I watched it all. I quite liked it. The characters were interesting, as were the plots. But it stubbornly refused to take off. That does give the main show’s writers a few opportunities, though, particularly given that Redemption’s final episode was clearly designed to open up the possibility of a second season. It’s been announced that Ryan Eggold is returning to the parent show, and Scottie and Solomon have already been Blacklisters, so the crossover is in place. Moreover Howard Hargrave (Terry O’Quinn) hasn’t yet featured, nor has quantum computing genius Richard Whitehall (Clarke Peters), and given that The Blacklist itself has been renewed for another season I wouldn’t be surprised to see Halcyon Aegis featuring again (Wednesday 24 May, 9pm, Sky 1).

Public Service Announcement 16 of 2017: Twin Peaks

When Twin Peaks first appeared on our screens, I was a teenager and UK tv only had four channels. Tucked away on BBC 2 on a Tuesday night, I have a feeling I missed it at first – I could be wrong, but I think I started watching a couple of episodes in and was probably even more bewildered than everyone else as a result. As soon as I did see it though, I was fascinated.

Beautiful, strange and terrifying, I had never seen anything like it. As the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer unfolded, the show got weirder and crazier and even scarier – by the end it was completely demented – but flawed though it was, its place in tv history and in my consciousness was assured. I wouldn’t call myself a superfan or anything even close; OK, I do have “Falling” as my phone’s ringtone because modern technology means you can do that kind of thing, but I found The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer deeply unpleasant and I never even tried to watch Fire Walk With Me. Which makes me a complete lightweight in terms of Twin Peaks fandom – I’ll not be dressing up as the Log Lady any time soon. But something about the show still got under my skin and stayed there, the effects both immediate and long-term – for months after it ended, I was genuinely frightened of looking in the bathroom mirror; and now, decades have passed but sometimes, if it’s very late and very dark and I’m at the sink, I still have to tamp down a shiver and force myself to look up.

All of which means I’m both excited and more than a little scared that, almost twenty-six years after the second season of Twin Peaks ended, we’re getting a third one. Correctly deducing that any delay would be a bad idea, Sky Atlantic is showing episodes 1 and 2 of Twin Peaks: The Return in a simulcast with Showtime tonight/early Monday morning at 2AM and, as a special bonus for UK viewers, making episodes 3 and 4 available on demand immediately afterwards. For old times’ sake, it’ll also have a prime-time slot on Tuesday at 9pm, which is either a cute nod to the original UK timeslot or a very creepy coincidence. Either way, I’ll be watching. And hopefully reviewing an ep or two at least, but we’ll see how we go.

Public Service Announcement 15 of 2017: Nashville

Every year I welcome the new season of Nashville, while noting with caution that the advance word from America – we’re normally some way behind in the UK – isn’t great. And every year I watch it, review it, and (mostly) adore it. In short, I’m long past the point of pretending that I’m anything other than hopelessly in love with Nashville. This time round the circumstances are a little unusual, though: the show was cancelled by ABC at the end of its fourth season, then picked up by CMT, a Viacom-owned country music channel. (And CMT has just renewed it for a sixth season, so it can’t be doing too badly for them.) I’ve not managed to avoid spoilers quite as successfully as I would have liked, so I’m sort of aware that Something Happens during this run. But you won’t be reading about that on here until it does. Weekly reviews as ever (Friday, 9pm, Sky Living).

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.