Public Service Announcement 33 of 2016: Black-ish, Blindspot, The Grand Tour, Pure Genius, Shooter

A mixed bag of things coming up over the next couple of days.

If the past week somehow hasn’t already filled your cup to overflowing with despair at what people are capable of, you can catch US gun-promo-masquerading-as-a-drama series Shooter (adapted from the terrible film of the same name) on Netflix from today (Wednesday) or Jeremy Clarkson’s post-Top Gear/ post-assault-in-the-workplace project The Grand Tour on Amazon Video UK from Friday. Alternatively, if you’d rather a show about a multi-millionaire that you can roll your eyes at without worrying that it will bring about the apocalypse, you could try critically-reviled new US medical drama Pure Genius, starting tonight on Universal at 9pm, and probably finishing sooner rather than later, since it’s about to be cancelled.

If you think laughter might be the best medicine, meanwhile, there’s season 2 of Black-ish on E4 on Friday at 7.30pm, but if, like me, you’re in the market for a reliably bonkers, riotously enjoyable combination of thrills, spills and action/ conspiracy/ romance nonsense, season 2 of Unpopcult’s beloved Blindspot (the only one of these shows I’ve actually seen, in fairness) starts tomorrow (Thursday) at 9pm on Sky Living and thank God for that. Ratings for season 2 haven’t been that impressive, and there’s always the risk that the show might make the Blacklist-like mistake of getting itself so focussed on Jane Doe’s parentage/ origin story that it forgets to be FUN, but s1 was such a great ride that s2 is more than welcome at Unpopcult HQ anyway. Check back with us for weekly reviews as soon as we can manage them.

Public Service Announcement 32 of 2016: The Blacklist, The Crown, Atlanta

A busy week already; and here are another three shows, each in its own way a  heavyweight. First up is Unpopcult favourite The Blacklist, with the irresistible James Spader bulldozing his way through the ethics of the FBI in order to track down master criminals while settling private vendettas. I’m a little concerned that the launch of a spinoff – The Blacklist: Redemption – runs the risk of diluting the parent show, particularly if we lose Ryan Eggold and Edi Gathegi to it on a permanent basis. (No word, yet, about whether UK viewers will have the chance to see Redemption.) I thought season 3, though, to be a significant improvement on its predecessor, so I’m looking forward to this. As usual, weekly reviews (Friday 4 November, 9pm, Sky Living).

Next up is Netflix’s The Crown, a 10-part dramatization of the early years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The Crown is (potentially) interesting as a TV show, and even more interesting for what it says about Netflix’s business model: Netflix, in short, presently attracts a predominantly young audience, so there’s plenty to watch if you’re Netflix and chill; not so much if you’re Netflix and over-the-hill.

The Crown, though, represents an unequivocal parking of tanks on the lawns of the British broadcast networks in the hope of interesting their viewers, and hoovering up the worldwide Downton audience into the bargain: costume drama, royalty, a top-notch cast, and all done on the sort of extravagant budget that the BBC, these days, can’t begin to compete with. Not only that, but it’s scripted by Peter Morgan, who has an untouchable track record in this area, with films such as The Queen (2006), Frost/Nixon (2008), and The Damned United (2009) on his CV. The idea seems to be that The Crown will, in due course, run to six seasons, one for each decade of Her Majesty’s reign. The critics who’ve seen the first couple of episodes seem to like them, but it might not be for me (Netflix, from Friday 4 November).

Finally, the first season of ten-part comedy-drama Atlanta makes it to the UK on Saturday. Donald Glover, who also writes and exec produces, stars as one of two cousins involved in the Atlanta rap scene. Advance word suggests that this is one of the best new shows of the year, and it’s already been renewed for a second season. (Saturday 5 November, 10pm, FOX UK).

Public Service Announcement 31 of 2016: Conviction, Code Black

New American drama Conviction reaches the UK this week. Hayley Atwell plays – deep breath – defence attorney Hayes Morrison, a defence attorney, the daughter of a former President, whose mother is also running for the Senate. She’s caught with cocaine and blackmailed by the DA into working for him as the head of the Conviction Integrity Unit, which looks into possible wrongful convictions. That’s quite a lot of backstory to be getting on with. This sounds like the sort of nonsense that I like, and I must admit that I was quite looking forward to it, but the reviews in America have suggested that there isn’t much to see; ratings aren’t great either, which means that renewal is unlikely. Shame (Sky Living, Wednesday November 2, 9pm).

Still, surprise renewals do happen: LA-set medical drama Code Black, for example, spent its first season on the bubble, but was ultimately renewed by CBS. (Unlike Limitless. I miss Limitless.) We reviewed season 1, but in the wake of some odd casting decisions between seasons – Raza Jaffrey and Bonnie Somerville out, Rob Lowe in – I am reliably informed by our Code Black correspondent that we won’t be doing the same with season 2 (W, Wednesday November 2, 9pm).

Also starting: season 2 of DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow (Sky 1, Thursday November 3, 8pm); season 13 of Grey’s Anatomy (Sky Living, Wednesday November 2, 10pm); season 5 of House Of Lies (Sky Atlantic, Thursday 3 November, 10.10pm); and season 1 of sci-fi drama The Expanse, starring Thomas Jane (Netflix, Thursday 3 November).

There’s a lot going on this week, so we’ll need more than one PSA to cover it all. More soon.

Public Service Announcement 30 of 2016: The Young Pope

Without having seen any of it, it’s difficult to know what to make of HBO’s new show The Young Pope. My first impression was that a show in which Jude Law plays cigarette-smoking, Cherry Coke Zero-swigging, Cardinal Lenny Belardo, who becomes the first American to be crowned as Pope, sounds like delightfully trashy fun. Apparently, though, it very much isn’t; in fact, it might not be anything like trashy enough. Created, written, and directed by Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino, The Young Pope is, it would seem, an idiosyncratic and visually-stunning drama, showing the new Pope Pius XIII – a theological conservative, Coke and gaspers notwithstanding – grappling with Vatican politics. I would have been more likely to watch, I think, were the show not starting with a two-hour double-bill, which might be more Papa Belardo than I have the patience for. But we’ll see (tonight, Sky Atlantic, 9pm).

Also starting: season 2 of Life In Pieces (tomorrow, Amazon Prime); season 2 of Humans (Sunday 30 October, Channel 4, 9pm). And Fox’s poorly-received Rocky Horror revival is available on Sky Cinema from tomorrow.

More soon: November, as ever, is looking busy.

Public Service Announcement 29 of 2016: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Black Mirror, Scorpion, Supergirl, Class, HyperNormalisation

A few more bits and pieces. Replicating what it’s doing with Designated Survivor, Netflix will also be making new episodes of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, about to start its second season, available to UK viewers on Sundays, and therefore within a day or two of US transmission. Keep it up, Netflix. Unpopcult heartily endorses this event or product. Netflix also has – on the off-chance you’ve missed this news – the third season of Black Mirror, available today.

And in other news: season 2 of Supergirl (Monday 24 October, Sky 1, 8pm); season 7 of The Walking Dead (Monday 24 November, Fox UK, 9pm); season 3 of Scorpion (Saturday 22 October, ITV2, 8.50pm); season 2 of Chicago Med (Sunday 23 October, Universal, 9pm); the first and – as it turned out – last season of The Player (tonight, Spike, 9pm); Doctor Who spinoff Class (Saturday 22 October, BBC Three, 10am, with broadcast at some point on BBC 1); and the second season of Australian drama The Code, this time with added Anthony LaPaglia (Saturday 22 October, BBC Four, 9pm, stupid double bills).

Finally, idiosyncratic documentary-maker Adam Curtis’s latest dissection of our world, HyperNormalisation, is available on the iPlayer. I haven’t seen it – yet? – and I’m not going to pretend to have watched all of Curtis’s back catalogue. What I would say, though, is that when I do watch his films I always find them provocative and stimulating.

Public Service Announcement 28 of 2016: black-ish, The Big Bang Theory

A couple of American comedies at both ends of the TV lifespan start new seasons on British TV this week. It’s our first look at black-ish, the critically acclaimed show about a middle-class African-American family, now on its third season in the US. This should be good news; unfortunately, E4 is showing new episodes every weekday, five a week, which as far as I’m concerned is even worse than BBC Four’s ludicrous Saturday night double-bills. We’re all binge-watchers now, it seems, whether or not we want to be (Monday-Friday, E4, 7.30pm).

Meantime The Big Bang Theory is back for its tenth season, and by now you know what you’re getting with it, and whether you like it or not. I’m still watching, although it’s difficult to argue against the proposition that its best days are behind it (tonight, E4, 8.30pm).

Also starting: Fox’s reasonably well-received adaptation of The Exorcist (tonight, Syfy UK, 9pm); season 12 of Criminal Minds (Mondays, Sky Living, 9pm); and Crazyhead, which is Howard Overman’s latest attempt to recapture the Misfits magic (tonight, E4, 9pm, and internationally on Netflix pretty soon).

Public Service Announcement 27 of 2016: Westworld, Divorce, Empire, The Missing, Frequency

We’re a few days behind with some of this, so lots to get through. HBO’s latest big-budget maybe-this-one-will-stick drama, Westworld, made its way to British screens last week: based on a 1973 novel by Michael Crichton, it’s set in a Western-themed amusement park where android Hosts service the clients. It has the sort of cast which I can’t really call “astonishing” any more, because it’s becoming standard in the Platinum Age: Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Luke Hemsworth, Ed Harris, and so on. Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, and (of course) J.J. Abrams are among the exec producers. The critical response has been generally positive, if not unanimously so (Sky Atlantic, Tuesdays, 9pm).

Also from HBO: the much-hyped Sharon Horgan/Sarah Jessica Parker collaboration, Divorce, a black comedy in which Parker plays a woman going through a marital breakup. The critics haven’t been quite as kind to this; which, together with the sour and hard-to-love second season of Catastrophe, makes me wonder whether Horgan, lavishly talented and Stakhanovite, is perhaps spreading herself a little too thinly (Sky Atlantic, tonight, 10.10pm).

Empire – which I gave up on some time ago – has returned for its third season (E4, Tuesdays, 10pm). And The Missing is back, with another missing-child drama for those who can bear to watch, which doesn’t include me. This time the action is set in Germany, David Morrissey and Keeley Hawes are the parents, and Tcheky Karyo returns as detective Julien Baptiste (BBC1, 12 October, 9pm).

And some streaming drama: season 5 of Ripper Street hits Amazon Prime tomorrow (Wednesday), and season 1 of The Ranch is already on Netflix.

Finally, Frequency, the CW’s reasonably-well-received adaptation of the 2000 movie, featuring a NYPD detective (Peyton List) who discovers that she is able to speak to her deceased father through an old ham radio, is also on Netflix.