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).

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Quantico s1 ep 17

From my TiVo: ”The NATS are challenged to cross the US/Canadian border without passports to learn about human trafficking”. Sure. That makes sense. Why the hell not? I mean, I don’t know anything about the FBI training programme, but requiring your new recruits to break the law en masse could totally be a thing. And it certainly isn’t the dumbest event to have happened on Quantico, a show which, more than any other I’m following, will at least once per week have me asking myself “Why am I watching this?”

So why am I still bothering with Quantico, the tale of a terrorist attack on America perpetrated by one of a cohort of impossibly beautiful new FBI agents? Well, the sunk cost fallacy for one: I’ve kept going this far, and I might as well stick with it until the end, even if I don’t actually care who was behind the bombing of Grand Central. Also, I’m a bit of a sucker for shows in which one actor – in this case the luminous Yasmine Al Masri – plays twins (cf. Ringer). And, yeah, it’s got something about it, even if I’m struggling to define what that might be beyond the hot cast.

And at least this episode, ‘Care’, ended with a genuine WHOA moment, even if the apparent identification of REDACTED as the evil genius behind the distorted voice which has been controlling events for a few episodes – known to Alex and Simon, apparently without irony, as “The Voice” – is, in all likelihood, a fakeout. Still, it’s apparently Alex’s last mission for The Voice, so presumably she can now get back to choosing between her numerous suitors in both timelines.

Quantico is, I think, a victim of the present cut-throat reality for serialised American drama, in which broadcasters have to presume that there’s a reasonable chance of their show getting an early cancellation, and are set up to provide a resolution in that event. So a show which might have worked quite nicely over 13 episodes – terrorist outrage, elimination of suspects, a hook-up or two, revelation and redemption – is successful enough to find itself with a back-9 order; and, indeed, a renewal for a second season. Cue the new characters (that group of randoms dropped in from the year above), the new conspiracies (The Voice), and the new big names for next year (Blair Underwood, no less). I’ll keep going for the rest of this season, but I don’t know if I’ll sign up for another year.