Catch up TV review: The Good Fight Season 2, Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 5, Electric Dreams, Homeland Season 7
Ivan Radford | On 18, Mar 2018
The Good Fight: Season 2 (All 4)
Death is on the menu for Reddick, Boseman, & Kolstad, as The Good Fight returns for a much-awaited second season on More4. The show wowed with its first run, which managed tie together personal drama, legal casework and topical issues with whip-smart plotting and witty dialogue. All that was written before Trump had even taken office, and Season 2 – naturally, written after months of Donald in the White House – only gets more and more pertinent, as the firm finds its business once again in jeopardy as a result of the changing political tide, and a couple of poorly-timed tweets. And so our favourite Chicago lawyers not only have to bid farewell to loved ones at funerals but also to possibly their company’s future, unless a ballsy play can secure a key player for their side.
All of this is acted out brilliantly by Christine Baranski’s wonderfully flinty Diane, Cush Jumbo’s wily Lucca, and Delroy Lindo’s absolutely magnetic boss, Boseman. But it’s testament to how good the writing is that the season’s opener still finds time for Rose Leslie’s wide-eyed Maia to find fresh scandal in her parents’ ongoing mess of dodgy dealings, as a revelation takes her back to a formative time in her youth. There’s even some room for Sarah Steele’s winning turn as Marissa, Diane’s assistant who is more determined than ever to become an investigator. It’s quick, it’s catty and unafraid of diving into complex waters – all the things that add up to make this not just one of the best legal dramas around, but one of the best dramas full stop.
Electric Dreams: Safe and Sound (All 4)
Science fiction, the old adage goes, tells us as much about our current society as it does about our future. Electric Dreams’ Safe and Sound doesn’t so much speak about out current society as it does yell about it directly in our faces. At a time when the Trump campaign team is under scrutiny for allegedly stealing private Facebook data to target and manipulate voters, this tale of paranoia and privacy couldn’t be more relevant. It follows a teenager (Annalise Basso) from a small midwestern town, who moves with her mum (Maura Tierney) to a big city, where she immediately feels out of place. Why? Not just because of a lack of friends, but because everyone has a Dex – a bracelet that surrenders the user’s entire personal data in exchange for some cool tech gadgetry and the ability to swipe in and out of buildings without being searched. That’s the pitch: give your privacy and you get security. Basso’s fish-out-of-water is fantastically believable – “You wanted me to help you just because?” asks one boy, who expects (ahem) something in return for his kindness – as she gets suckered into buying one of her own – much to the displeasure of her mother, who is politically savvy about the sacrifice being made. And those fears soon get proven right – by another set of fears, as our heroine is surrounded by warnings and reports of terror attacks, all of which reinforces the supposed need for that over-arching network.
Co-writer Kalen Egan (The Man In The High Castle) is in his element here, tapping into all-too-current nervousness and scare-mongering, and portraying just how easily people can be manipulated into doing things they might not realise they’re doing. Quite why that had to be told from the perspective of a white all-American outsider is another matter, much like the way the episode also throws in references to our teen’s father, who had mental health issues, as though that somehow adds depth or resonance. Strip out those muddled elements, and some unnecessary explanatory flashbacks, and you’d have a grippingly relevant social thriller. Turn off this halfway through, though, and you’ll only be met by true headlines of social media data being used in equally disturbing ways.
Homeland: Season 7, Episode 4 (All 4)
Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 4.
Seven seasons in and Homeland proves it’s still got the ability to build up tension into a controlled explosion of violence. The show is still laying the groundwork for its over-arching plot, but there are a number of topical themes simmering nicely, from fake news and gun violence to surveillance and corruption. Carrie, of course, is the one doing the surveilling, as she and Max trace the mysterious Simone, and try to work out what Chief of Staff Wellington is up to – Linus Roache continues to enjoy being despicable as the President’s right-hand man, willing to go behind her back and order that air strike just to distract Americans from the news. President Keane, meanwhile, is enjoyably conflicted about the whole thing.
More black and white, perhaps, is the stand-off between Saul and O’Keefe, as they patiently try to sound each other out. Enter a young man who gets accidentally shot by the FBI and a cheeky man with a camera who paps in on a hospital be to make it seem like he’s dead. A moment of disinformation later and the news has sparked a flash in the pan – all that the writers need to escalate the showdown into a full-on gunfight, as the young man’s family open fire and, supported by O’Keefe’s NRA followers, incite a head-on assault from the FBI waiting outside their house. It’s thrilling, visceral stuff, with Mandy Patinkin’s veteran agent only able to shout the facts down the phone to no avail. In the modern warfare of information, the collateral can be too deafening for the truth to be heard. Homeland is firing on all cylinders once again.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 5 (All 4)
Back in 2013, Brooklyn Nine-Nine wasted no time in proving that it was one of the funniest shows on TV. Five seasons in and that hasn’t changed, as Dan Goor and Michael Schur’s sitcom never fails to make you laugh with almost every single line of dialogue. The gag rate is nothing short of sensational, something that it’s maintained even over changing set-ups: after Season 4 took us to Florida, Season 5 takes us to prison, following the arrest of Jake and Rosa (who were framed by Hawkins in Season 4). The result is as hilarious as you’d expect – even when you know it’s only a matter of time before they get out, Andy Samberg’s cheesy, yet undeniably competent, cop still finds ways to ramp up the sense of peril and undermine every expectation for giggles. Ramen noodles alone will have you in stitches, while Rosa’s subplot, involving the potentially unfaithful Pimento, is hysterically steamy and silly – the word “flan” has never been funnier.
All this is held together by the impeccable ensemble cast, with Andre Braugher’s deadpan Captain Holt stealing every scene, as he evaluates Jake’s performance. While squatting, naturally. After years of watching these characters interact and be good at their jobs, the pay-off of each joke never gets old, but it’s testament to how fresh Brooklyn Nine-Nine is that even newcomers can tune in and won’t be able to stop chuckling. Welcome back, Nine-Nine. We missed you.