What’s available on-demand on Freeview? Keep up-to-date with our weekly catch-up TV column, including reviews of shows on ITV Hub, new releases on All 4 and a guide to My5.
(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.)
The Good Fight: Season 3 (All 4)
There aren’t enough superlatives to do justice to just how good The Good Fight is. CBS’ spin-off from The Good Wife has dazzled consistently across its first two seasons with its fearless appetite for turning topical issues into thrilling drama, provocative debate and hugely entertaining character dilemmas. Season 3 is no exception and gets off to a flawless start, with an hour of TV that centres around non-disclosure agreements, complete with an animated short explaining NDAs to the non-lawyers watching at home. But it only takes a few minutes for the subjects of those NDAs to come to light, as a past incident comes to light involving Reddick, the firm’s former (now deceased) lead partner. Delroy Lindo is superb as Boseman, trying to navigate the aftermath of the discovery and do the right thing – both for the parties concerned and the company’s commercial wellbeing – and he’s backed up with heart, humour and humanity by Audra McDonald as Liz, Reddick’s daughter, Michael Boatman as Julius Cain, the firm’s pragmatic veteran, and Sarah Steele as the scene-stealing investigator Marissa. Christine Baranski is, it goes without saying, fabulous as Diane Lockhart, whose own experience of NDAs gets a little more personal, fuelling her own campaign for change, while Rose Leslie relishes the chance to bring out a new side to Maia, not to mention some seriously bad-ass sunglasses. Over the hour, what emerges is a reminder of how much this ensemble of characters support one another, just at a point when the country is falling into division. Always looking for the nuances behind the kind of headlines that make its storylines excitingly up-to-date, this is fiendishly well written observation, gorgeously complex entertainment and simply top-class telly – and we haven’t even had Michael Sheen turn up yet. If someone doesn’t renew it for a fourth season soon, you’ll have to stop us from suing them.
Available until: 27th April 2019 (Episode 1)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 6 (All 4)
Nine-Nine! No sooner than Season 5 dropped on Netflix has E4 brought us Season 6 only a couple of months behind its premiere on NBC – and, even with that slight delay, it remains an absolute joy to see the uncancelled show back on our screens. Season 6 kicks off with as many laughs as we’ve come to expect from the inspiredly silly cop show – and, a reminder of what makes Nine-Nine such a rewarding series, some fresh added depth to its characters. That’s not only because we get to see Peralta and Santiago go on a luxury honeymoon, where we discovery Peralta’s Die Hard sex fantasy involving Holly Gennaro, but because their celebrations are interrupted by the surprise arrival of Captain Holt – who, in a bout of self-pity, has checked himself out on leave. Andre Braugher has long been one of the sitcom’s MVPs, and his ability to switch from happy to sad without changing his deadpan expression makes it a delight to discover new sides to the police veteran. Back at the station, meanwhile, Jeffords (Terry Crews) is trying to step into his shoes, while Gina and Boyle get into a squabble about their parents that escalates brilliantly. Despite the ongoing emotional growth of its ensemble, though, Season 6 of Nine-Nine succeeds because the opening episode is still the same comedy we fell in love with on Fox. Wise-cracking, whip-smart and fast-paced, long may that continue.
Available until: 27th April 2019 (Episode 1)
Dead Pixels (All 4)
A year on from virtual reality drama Kiss Me First comes E4’s new gaming-themed series, but this time, the online world is played for laughs not tension. Our window into the world of Kingdom Scrolls is Meg (Alexa Davies), who is part of a trio of devoted players – alongside irresponsible parent Usman (Sargon Yelda) and anxious nerd Nicky (Will Merrick). Their long-held fortress is friendship, though, is disrupted by the arrival of Russell (David Mumeni), a hot guy who joins Meg’s office and is invited to enter their digital space to get to know him. It’s here that Dead Pixels really works, as it gets the way that online gaming isn’t any different to other social activities: it’s simply another way for people to hang out, with coffee mugs swapped for orcs and/or pints swapped for swords.
Creator Jon Brown (a Fresh Meat and Veep veteran) kindly and convincingly depicts this balance of real life and alternate life, complete with its blend of live-action and animated visuals – and, underneath the new-fangled tech, are the age-old human tensions of a social group not welcoming a newcomer into their midst. Especially one riding a dragon and stacking up CGI cows in a pillar. Alexa Davies does brilliant work as Meg, awkward but not antisocial, sexual but not sexualised, and torn between playing badminton with mates and racing home to help defend Castle Blackfinger from a fire. Merrick, who impressed as Steve Davis in BBC iPlayer’s The Rack Pack, is equally good, although he has to work to bring his character out of the nerdy stereotypes that have come to define gaming’s representation in the media. Yelda’s immature human is just the right foil to balance the two, while Mumeni’s fit-but-dim outsider brings surprising sympathy to his role. With the difficult bit of booting up out of the way, there’s potential for this ensemble to level up a lot over the season’s six episodes – all of them, naturally, available to binge online now.
Available on All 4
Victoria: Season 3 (ITV Hub)
Victoria has always been the slightly less ravishing cousin to Netflix’s The Crown, albeit a cousin that is always fun to hang out with and never less than compelling. Season 3 of ITV’s royal drama, though, doesn’t exactly spark to life with its opening hour – even though it drops us right in the middle of a tinderbox of European revolution, deposing France’s king, who promptly turns up on the Palace doorstep (at the same time as Victoria’s half-sister). The threat of social reform on British soil, we already know, doesn’t manifest itself in fiery revolt, but that doesn’t stop the show from trying to chime in with modern times through some pertinent talk of inequality, the overlooked working class and the perceived plight of the blue collar man. It’s egged perhaps a little too much by the writers, but there’s no denying how enjoyable it is simply to catch up with these characters once again: Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes remain brilliant as England’s royal leads, while Laurence Fox has a lot of fun as Lord Palmerston, not afraid to stir the social pot and blow the resulting steam in the face of the monarchy. Even if momentum hasn’t kicked in yet, the chance to see this cast on our screens again is one to celebrate, particularly Hughes’ take on Prince Albert, whose vague sense of moustached discontent remains as fascinating as ever. Handsomely shot and brilliantly performed, you just wish the script relied on those truths more than political threats.
Available until: June 2019 (Episode 1)
Jed Mercurio’s Line of Duty has built up its reputation over four mesmerising series that featured all the thrills of this writer’s hit drama Bodyguard without any of its tricksiness. The fifth instalment gets off to a typically punchy start with the brutal hijacking of a major consignment of heroin by a murderous “O C G” (organised crime gang – the series rarely lets up on its use of jargon and authentic-sounding acronyms) led by This is England and Save Me star Stephen Graham. When Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) and his AC-12 internal affairs unit are assigned to investigate the crime, lead investigators D I Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and D S Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) find their access to certain case files is restricted. From there, it rapidly becomes clear that something much more sinister and far-reaching is going on.
That’s enough to set off all sorts of alarm bells for Line of Duty addicts who are familiar with the series’ complex, ongoing high-level conspiracy storyline, especially when evidence of information leaks from within AC-12 points a finger at a familiar figure. But, of course, nothing is what it seems in Mercurio’s world. GO