We catch up with some of the week’s TV available on Freeview VOD services.
TFI Friday – All 4
Dum dum daaaa do-do-do daaaa. (Ba-ba bum baa.) Those who still find themselves occasionally humming the theme tune for TFI Friday will be pleased to see Channel 4’s irreverent chat show make a comeback – and, like its leading man, it’s mellowed in its old age. Chris Evans is still as watchable as ever, careening about the set like an excited teenager, but the raucous laddishness of the 90s has faded – something emphasised by the mild appearances by Steve Coogan and U2. An unexpected clip of Roger Moore is a welcome break from expectations, but the rest is by-the-numbers silliness, which, in an age of formulaic chat shows all trying to be the next viral thing, leaves this both reassuringly or, depending on your view, disappointingly old-fashioned. Nostalgia fans will be the most appreciative, although there’s a welcome burst of something new in the form of Sound of the Sirens, an unsigned band given a prime-time slot to do their guitar-playing thang.
The Returned (Season 2, Episode 1) – All 4
The words “six months later” don’t normally leave viewers buzzing with excitement, but in the case of The Returned, it’s easy to make an exception. The French mystery show, which followed a sleepy village where dead people returned in fully corporeal form, proved as haunting as it was beautiful two years ago. The show makes no concession to newcomers, diving straight back into the same mysterious, murky waters. We resume with the pregnant Adele being rushed to hospital, despite being three months from her due date – in case anyone expected her getting knocked up by the reanimated corpse of her ex, Simon, was going to end well.
But the dead have disappeared, along with the cops, leaving the town flooded. What caused the deluge of water? Enter Berg, a guy from the military who claims to have a theory. Typically, though, he refuses to divulge them. Indeed, this opening hour doesn’t worry about things like answering questions, introducing another Returnee (Audrey) and clinging to its study of grief, as Lena and Jerome search for Camille and her mum, who both went off with the horde of zombies at the end of Season 1. With a lake separating our two groups, what will happen next? Who knows? But between the horror of Adele’s bulging belly and the atmosphere of those dusk-set visuals (not to mention the still-hypnotic soundtrack), it’s never been more bon to have a TV series back.
Unforgotten – ITV Player
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Nicola Walker can do no wrong and that is proven once again by new ITV drama Unforgotten. The programme itself may not be up to much, but she’s wonderful, paired with Sanjeev Bhaskar as DCI Cassie Stuart and DS Sunny Khan. They’re investigating a cold case involving a skeleton, which leads them to a key and, later, other revealing clues. The rest of the series, meanwhile, follows a variety of other players, from the warm Lizzie and her husband helping with a local football team to Sir Philip (Trevor Eve), a working class boy turned rich businessman, a priest played by Bernard Hill caught up in trouble involving missing money, and Eric (Tom Courtenay), a disabled pensioner whose wife has dementia.
It’s one heck of a cast and the actors all sink their teeth into their roles, from Hill’s conflicted man of the cloth to Eve’s suited Alan Sugar-alike, who barks with a cocksure grin. It’s just a disappointment that the dialogue they have to deliver occasionally strays into duff territory, something that leaves you not caring all that much about any of them. Luckily, though, Sanjeev (an underrated dramatic actor) and Walker are there to hold your interest. Playfully bantering with each other as they go about their business, it’s a treat just to see a couple of cops in a TV show enjoying their job like normal people.
Photo: JOHN ROGERS / ITV
Wheelchair Rugby World Championship – ITV Player
Not a fan of rugby? We can guarantee you’ll be gripped by wheelchair rugby. Impressive physical strength and surprisingly violent contact, with all the fun of point-scoring? The inaugural World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge is like normal sport but better. The tournament ended on Friday 16th October, but if you can avoid the scores, the full thing is available on ITV Player, as Paralympic gold winners Australia head back to the Olympic Park following their victory. Try one match – and discover the reason why they it call “Murderball”. Photo: Morris Gallagher / ITV