Catch up TV review: Fresh Off the Boat Season 2, Holocaust: The Revenge Plot, The Undateables
Ivan Radford | On 28, Jan 2018
Holocaust: The Revenge Plot (All 4)
Alt-history fiction is having something of a moment right now, whether it’s The Man in the High Castle or SSGB or even 11.22.63. But the latest gripping what-if from the past isn’t fiction at all. Following World War II, a group of Holocaust survivors decided that an eye for an eye was the only response to the atrocities committed by the Nazis. They formed a group – dubbed The Avengers – and plotted to get revenge by poisoning German water supplies. Their plan would have affected multiple cities, killing millions of citizens. Sourcing frank interviews from the participants involved, the result is a grippingly edited account of alternate events that came scarily close to being real.
The Undateables (All 4)
The idea of a TV show based around watching people with challenging conditions attempting to go on dates sounds like a cruel, exploitative and cheap form of entertainment. The Undateables, though, is none of those things. Now in its eighth season, Channel 4’s romantic reality series is delicately sensitive, sympathetically funny and gently empowering. We’re introduced to Amber, who suffered a major stroke, and Rich, a train enthusiast with Asperger’s, and Nick, who has William’s syndrome and relies on music to express himself and communicate. But at no point are they defined by those conditions, and the show sweetly allows them to voice their own characters, interests, desires and wants, without intruding on the moments when they convey those things to each other. Even after seven previous runs, what could be formulaic still feels sincere enough to make for uplifting viewing.
Fresh Off the Boat: Season 2 (My5)
The first US network sitcom starring an Asian-American family in worrying number of years, Fresh Off the Boat is a welcome, necessary slice of diversity in the modern TV landscape. Over in the UK, though, it’s struggled to find an audience, with Channel 5 only just picking up the rights proper last year for its niche channel, 5STAR. And so, while the US is on Season 4 of the comedy, we’re just starting Season 2. The good news is that doesn’t make the series any less funny – because brilliant writing is brilliant writing no matter how late you are catching up with it.
The show follows Eddie (Hudson Yang), the eldest child in the Huang family. He’s a good kid with a crush on his next door neighbour’s step-daughter, Nicole (Luna Blaise), who’s slightly older – and, at the start of Season 2, he’s anxious about making sure that he enters eighth grade with a cool story about what he did over the summer. But while Eddie was the main focus of Season 1, this sophomore run widens the lens to feature his family more, and so we’re also concerned with dad Louis (Randall Park), who is trying to secretly have a vacation, without mum Jessica (Constance Wu) finding out, as she disapproves of ever taking a break. Cue the whole clan going on his “business trip” to an alligator theme park, much to the delight of Eddie, smart young brother Emery (Forrest Wheeler) and adorably obedient youngster Evan (Ian Chen). The resulting awkwardness, as Wu’s stressed-out, staring wife and Park’s squirming, smiling husband try to out-bluff each other, is deliciously convincing to watch. It lays the foundation for their different attitudes to parenting, as they have to help Eddie deal with getting over his crush on Nicole (one scene involving Boyz II Men is laugh-out-loud funny). There are smart cultural corrections stuffed into every frame, including the appearance of Matt Lucas as a teacher at school trying to be culturally sensitive, but there’s humour and heart in even greater abundance, and when Fresh Off the Boat is operating at full speed, the gag rate rivals that of Malcolm in the Middle in its heyday. The ship might have taken a few years to arrive, but it’s not too late to get on board.