Public Service Announcement 32 of 2019: Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, Riviera

We’re completists on unpopcult, as you know, but I’m slightly apprehensive about the prospect of watching a two hour-ish documentary on the making of the final season of Game of Thrones. I mean, I’d love some gossipy backstage chat and seeing Jon Snow or whoever having a laugh with Sansa and the Night King by the coffee cart while Brienne and Varys shoot the breeze by the water cooler (NB – I don’t know if any of this happens) but will seeing just how much CGI went into the massive battle scenes or exactly how to build your dragon spoil the tv magic? I once had to visit a chicken product factory years ago (it was a work thing) and it did not improve my chicken-eating experiences, if you know what I mean.

Having said that, the production of epic-scale fantasy television is (probably) not the same as the production of frozen chicken nuggets. I’ve written a lot about the acting and writing on GOT but haven’t spent anywhere near as much time on the direction, cinematography, sets, costume work and the like that made it the astonishing spectacle it was, so finding out more about all of that is no bad thing. And the trailer looks like it might make me cry. If you want to check it out then, Game of Thrones: The Last Watch is on Sky Atlantic tonight/Monday morning at 2AM with the now-standard prime time repeat at 9PM tomorrow (Monday) night.

If you’d like a more 21st-century but only slightly less fantastical (to me, anyway – the trailers alone suggest a lifestyle nobody I will ever know actually lives) drama meanwhile, you might want to tune into Sky Atlantic a little earlier tonight for Season 2 of Riviera: there’s an encore showing of the opening double bill at 9pm, if you didn’t already catch it in its Thursday night slot. Both seasons in their entirety are also currently on Sky GO, so plenty of chances to catch up with the über-glossy adventures of Julia Stiles and other extremely rich people up to extremely suspicious things in the extremely beautiful Riviera, now with added Juliet Stevenson, Will Arnett and – hurrah! – unpopcult favourite Gregory Fitoussi as Julia’s new boyfriend. I say again: Gregory Fitoussi as Julia’s new boyfriend! I didn’t watch season 1 (and I don’t think I can face starting now), but if I had, I’d be very excited right about now.

Public Service Announcement 23 of 2017: Riviera, Merciless (Dupla Identidade)

It may be light outside, but it’s dark on the box this weekend with a couple of new thrillers keen to bring a bit of a shiver to your living room.

First up, Sky Atlantic’s glossy new mystery, Riviera – all ten episodes are currently available on Sky Go/Catch-up, or you can catch the repeat of episode 1 tomorrow (Sunday) at 9pm and episode 2 on Thursday, also at 9pm. Julia Stiles plays an American art dealer married to billionaire Anthony LaPaglia and living the life of Riley on the Côte d’Azur till he dies suddenly and their beautiful life turns out to have been hiding something very ugly. Sky have been advertising this for what seems like my entire adult life, and the trailers featuring glamorous rich people behaving dubiously in a gorgeous location certainly look stunning – if nothing else, the French tourist board should be delighted. Whether it’s any good is another matter, but with a cast including Stiles, LaPaglia, Lena Olin and Iwan Rheon, and Neil Jordan one of the executive producers, it might well be worth a look.

Not to be outdone, meanwhile, Channel 4’s Walter Presents brings us 13-part Brazilian hit drama Dupla Identidade, renamed “Merciless” for UK audiences for some reason (what is this compulsion to change the names of subtitled dramas? See also Les Hommes de l’ombre/Spin) at 10.15pm, also on Sunday. Sounding decidedly nasty for my tastes, it follows a smart, handsome, alluring political operator who murders young women (of COURSE) for fun and wheedles his way into working with the police and messing with the head of the female (of COURSE) psychologist trying to catch him. Walter and a lot of the press around the show compare it to Dexter but it sounds a lot more like The Fall to me, and since I have no appetite for tv’s continuing fetishisation of the horrific murders of young women and the sadists who delight in carrying them out, I’ll be avoiding this one like the plague. If you watch it and I’m being unfair, though, let me know.