Catch up TV review: National Treasure, Paranoid, Red Dwarf
Ivan Radford | On 25, Sep 2016
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(For BBC TV reviews and round-ups, see our weekly Best of BBC iPlayer column. Or for reviews of the shows on All 4’s Walter Presents, click here.)
National Treasure (All 4)
“If I were guilty, I’d say I’m innocent. If I were innocent, I’d say I’m innocent. I don’t know what to say.”
That’s Paul Finchley (Robbie Coltrane), the eponymous national treasure of Channel 4’s new drama, whose world is shaken by an accusation of rape from decades ago.
Jack Thorne’s drama is well aware that it’s a Important Issue to examine, but like HBO’s The Night Of, this is a reminder that Good TV can also be good TV. The cast, which includes Tim McInnerny as Paul’s comedy partner, Julie Walters as his wife, Marie, and Andrea Riseborough as recovering drug-addict daughter Dee, all get their fair share of screentime, with each one filling it with real dramatic weight; a recollection of a childhood incident from Dee is genuinely shocking, while Walters seethes with equal parts bitterness and loyalty as Paul’s long-suffering spouse.
But it’s Thorne’s script that really shines, as each conversation threatens to be cliched or heavily dramatised, but actually winds up underplayed, convincingly realistic and – in the case of the scene-stealing Babou Ceesay as Paul’s flashy lawyer – highly entertaining. The result is a provocative, gripping discussion of a pertinent subject, but one that never forgets that sometimes, saying nothing is just as powerful.
Photo: Aimee Spinks
Paranoid (ITV Hub)
ITV’s new crime drama comes with the Netflix seal of approval already in place, after the streaming giant snapped up the international rights to the show and signed on as co-producer. That alone tells you that something special is in store here – and you can feel it in the show’s glossy production values, excellent cast and array of supporting characters just waiting to spring surprising twists on us.
The promising signs begin immediately with the shocking murder of a female GP in a playground – a death that’s commendably brief, as the show refuses to linger on the gory details and instead focus on its shocking impact upon those nearby. That includes eyewitness and local garden centre owner Lucy (Lesley Sharp), who seems eerily keen to help the detectives investigating the case – particularly Bobby (Robert Glenister) – and suspiciously detailed in her account of events.
Nina (Indira Varma) doesn’t buy it, but she’s dealing with her own personal problems, with the support of colleague Alec (Dino Fetscher). Newcomer Fetscher more than holds his own against the veteran cast, with Glenister and Sharp as excellent as ever. Throw in some mysterious notes from an anonymous “Ghost Detective”, hints of romantic chemistry, plus a subplot that recalls recent BBC show New Blood, and you’ve got a polished, intriguing crime drama that you can tell is just waiting to become bigger than it first appears.
Red Dwarf (UKTV Play)
“How many times have we seen that before?” moans Rimmer (Chris Barrie) in Episode 1 of the new season of Red Dwarf. Yes, the show is back for another six-part run, courtesy of UKTV’s Dave, and little has changed, as it becomes clear that some timey-wimey cliches are on the cards. Self-aware digs at the programme’s own unoriginality? Regardless of the budget, that’s classic Red Dwarf.
In fact, much of this season’s opening two episodes feels like a welcome burst of nostalgia, as Craig Charles’ Lister, Danny John-Jules’ Cat and Robert Llewellyn’s Kryten reunite for more space-hopping escapades. The same is true of co-creator Doug Naylor’s scripts, which still have an eye for a witty premise – the opening episode sees our group land in an alternate USA where technology is outlawed, making Krysten and Rimmer illegal.
The cast clearly enjoy playing with the material, which, without being the best the show’s even been, still manages the difficult trick of playing smart and dumb at the same time. The have an even distribution of one-liners and insults too. The delivery of some of the lines, like some of the jokes themselves, occasionally feels a bit forced, but they mostly stick the landing with the easy chemistry of performers who know each other well – watch out for the excellent Kevin Eldon as a delightfully petty evil robot – while set from the lower key Season X to more ambitious sci-fi silliness is a promising echo of the show’s evolution from Season 1 and 2 to its peak of Season 3.