Public Service Announcement 18 of 2015: Gracepoint

American remakes of European shows generally don’t work. (And vice versa.) Gracepoint, the US re-do of Broadchurch, doesn’t seem to have bucked that trend: after generally lukewarm reviews it was canned by Fox after one season. David Tennant reprises his lead role as tortured cop with a Secret Past, and Anna Gunn plays Olivia Colman. In truth, I can’t think of a single reason to watch this, unless you’re a Tennant stan. If you do, though, apparently it has a different ending. Inasmuch, that is, as the UK version actually had a season 1 ending, following its deconstruction in season 2 (ITV Encore, tonight, 10pm).

And the ongoing search for the highest of high TV concepts reaches its logical – if unpleasant and exploitative – conclusion, with new drama Parts, in which a reputedly wealthy heiress is kidnapped. In each episode her abductors send one of her severed body parts to someone connected to her past or present life, thus unfolding more of the mystery. So “Part 1” is her left ring finger, “Part 4” will be her right ear, and so on. Do you see how this works? It’s difficult to see how Parts could make it to a full 22-episode season, as they’ll presumably start to run out of limbs – Part 7 will apparently be her right hand – and one would guess that a second season with the same victim is completely out of the question. On the bright side, though, UK viewers are in the same position as everyone else, as the first episode is being shown everywhere today. April 1st.

And coming soon, some TV heavyweights: Mad Men, Louie, Treme, Jane the Virgin, Madam Secretary, and a show with dragons in it.

Public Service Announcement 17 of 2015: Stalker, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

Time to turn all the lights on and lock ourselves in the panic room; Stalker returns to Sky Living tomorrow (Monday) night at 10pm to finish out its first and almost-certainly last season. In fairness, there’s been no official word yet, but ratings do suggest our weekly fix of “Good” Stalker Jack, Sad Stalkee Beth, Desk Cop Ben and Jansplanation Janice is likely to be a limited, er, pleasure which we should enjoy while we can. Ho-hum. I’m not remotely fussed about it being cancelled, but writing and talking about Stalker is fun, and it was getting better by mid-season finale time, so we’ll stick with weekly reviews for now.

Apparently, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D also got better, eventually, but not quickly enough for us, so we ditched it in the middle of season 1. Word is it’s completely different now, of course, but too late for unpopcult to care, I’m afraid. Anyway, season 2 finished its winter hiatus and returned to Channel 4 this past Friday (27th) at 8pm, so if you’re still interested, you can catch up on 4OD. Or just watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier again, instead. That was great.

Public Service Announcement 16 of 2015: Person of Interest, How to Get Away With Murder

It’s been around 10 months (seriously) since season 2 of Person of Interest ended on UK tv, a year and a half (!) since season 3 began on US tv and six months since season 4 followed it. One might be forgiven then, for thinking channel Five had quietly ditched the Machine and moved on. Plenty of viewers will have, after all. But, for those of us in the UK who still care despite the channel’s best attempts to put us off, turns out Five is finally bringing us season 3 of Jonathan Nolan’s suits’n’ surveillance conspiracy drama, as of Monday (23 March) at 10pm.

I assume we’re supposed to be pleased.

Even unpopcult, however, which has been pretty committed to the show from the start, is far less excited at the prospect of its return than it would have been had the best part of a year and a big bunch of ENORMOUS spoilers not gone by in the meantime. Sigh.

Still, we’ve hung in with the Machine and its buddies this long so we’ll resume weekly reviews for now and see how we get on.

Also returning to our screens, albeit only 6 episodes behind the U.S. – see, Five? It’s not that hard – is How To Get Away With Murder, season 1 of which resumes on Universal at 10pm tomorrow (Sunday). The Shondaland house style and I do not play well together, and Jed has reviews coming out of his ears just now, so we won’t be covering it weekly at the moment. We might well check in with the, er, Murderers every now and again, however, assuming we can dig our way out from under the avalanche of other shows coming our way. On which note, check back here very soon for PSAs about, amongst other things, the return of Stalker, the final, final season of Mad Men and – *claps hands breathlessly* – season 5 of GAME. OF. THRONES.

Public Service Announcement 15 of 2015: Bloodline

Unpopcult was somewhat excited when it heard about Netflix’s latest drama, Bloodline, created and exec produced by Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman, and Glenn Kessler, the creators of Damages, and starring Kyle Chandler. The rest of the cast isn’t too shabby either: Linda Cardellini, Sam Shepard, Sissy Spacek, Norbert Leo Butz, and Ben Mendelsohn, among others. But it’s Coach Taylor in Damages, folks. Coach Taylor in Damages!

It’s actually a Florida-set family-in-crisis story, rather than a murky crime thriller, although some of the Damages tropes – most significantly the multiple timelines – seem to be in play once again. The critical reaction has been mixed but generally positive, which gives us a bit of a problem. Unpopcult’s dancecard is pretty darn full at the moment, frankly, with Stalker, Person of Interest, and How To Get Away With Murder returning before the end of March; and Mad Men, Jane The Virgin, Game Of Thrones, and Louie just some of the shows starting in April. So we’re rather busy. On the other hand, it’s Coach Taylor in Damages (Netflix, tomorrow).

Public Service Announcement 14 of 2015: Poldark, The Following, Criminal Minds

The 1970s Poldark tv series (adapted from the Winston Graham novels) has a sizeable and devoted fan following, of which, cards on the table, I’m not a member. It might be the best series in the world, it might be the worst – like most things, it might be somewhere in between, but I have no idea since I’ve never watched it. And since my Sunday night period drama slot is currently occupied by (the sadly now Fitoussi-less) Mr Selfridge, I’m not sure I would have watched this year’s shiny, new version either – starting tomorrow (Sunday) at 9pm on BBC1 – had the BBC not had the very good sense to put Aidan Turner in it.

A historical romantic drama. With Mitchell from Being Human. As the hero.


As if I could resist that. Check back here for weekly reviews, as soon as I can write them.

For those looking for some significantly nastier stuff to watch, meanwhile, serial killer madness The Following returns to Sky Atlantic tonight at 9pm for its third season, and Criminal Minds picks up where it left off mid-season 10 on Sky Living on Monday night at 10pm. I’ll be far too busy swooning over Poldark for any of that unpleasantness, though.

Public Service Announcement 13 of 2015: Critical, 12 Monkeys, The Blacklist

Two new shows to start with. First up is Sky’s new medical drama Critical, written by Jed Mercurio (Line Of Duty, Cardiac Arrest), and starring Lennie James. The conceit is that each hour-long episode will follow, in more or less real time, a medical team’s attempts to save a life. It seems that the focus will be on medical procedures rather than the personal lives of the characters, and since I quite like to take an interest in the personal lives of TV characters it probably isn’t for me (tonight, Sky 1, 9pm).

The other new show is Syfy’s 12 Monkeys, based of course on the film, which started a few weeks ago in America to a lukewarm critical response and indifferent ratings. Which is a shame, because it stars Unpopcult favourite Aaron Stanford (Birkhoff in Nikita), a man who needs the right vehicle to become a star. (It also features Ryan from Nikita. Perhaps Percy and Amanda will drop in to give the ratings a boost.) I have a funny feeling that this might actually be big dumb fun, which I mean in a positive way (Friday 27 February, Syfy UK, 9pm).

And also on Friday, The Blacklist is back after its mid-season hiatus. If we’re being honest, I think we’d have to concede that the first part of season 2 didn’t really catch fire. Was it simply an absence-of-Tom issue, or is there a deeper problem? In the interim it’s been renewed for a third season, mind you, so there’s no looming crisis. A return to season 1 form would be nice, though (Friday 27 February, Sky LIving, 9pm).

Two others to look out for: Netflix has season 3 of House of Cards from Friday. And if you missed the wonderful Fargo – my favourite new show of 2014 – Channel 4 is repeating it, starting at 2.40am on Friday night, by which I mean Saturday morning, if you see what I’m getting at.

Public Service Announcement 12 of 2015: The Casual Vacancy, Indian Summers

There’s a good old-fashioned TV smackdown tonight, with two new hour-long network dramas starting at 9pm, the same time as an already established third (Mr Selfridge), and at least one other on cable (Hawaii Five-0).

In the BBC1 corner, it has the first of three-parter The Casual Vacancy, an adaptation of JK Rowling’s novel. And Channel Four fights back with the start of 1932-set ten-parter Indian Summers, the most expensive drama in the channel’s history. Both look custom-built to appeal to the British viewer (and the increasingly important international market): Cotswolds vs India; Rowling’s take on small town English politics vs the declining British Raj; Michael Gambon, Rory Kinnear, and Keeley Hawes vs Julie Walters and Henry Lloyd-Hughes off of The Inbetweeners. Me, I’m watching neither.

In other news, the latest Scandi-import is international Emmy-nominated 30 Degrees In February (“30 grader i februari”), about Swedish expats in Thailand. It started a couple of days ago, but I’m sure there are catch-up opportunities all over the place (Fridays, Sky Arts 1). And a reminder that Elementary, presently in fine form, is back this week for the second half of its third season (Tuesday 17 February, 9pm, Sky Living).