Catch up TV review: Batwoman, Maxxx and Putin: A Russian Spy Story
Ivan Radford | On 05, Apr 2020Reading time: 3 mins
Batwoman (All 4)
Another day, another DC TV series, as the Marvel rival looks to dominate the small screen. On the fringes of the Arrowverse comes this new outing for Batwoman – Bruce Wayne’s cousin, dontcha know – who swoops into Gotham just as it falls out from Batman’s jurisdiction and into the rule of security firm the Crows, led by Jacob – Martha Wayne’s brother, dontcha know. If you think about the tangential connections too hard, the whole of this spin-off falls apart, from the crazed Alice in Wonderland villain whose motivation is non-existent to the plot device that involves her sister. Fortunately, Ruby Rose brings the same glinting charisma she shows in Orange Is the New Black to the table, which means you not only buy into the relationship between her and her long-ago girlfriend but even root for her during the pleasingly hard-hitting action sequences. “The Batsuit is perfect,” the show’s equivalent of Alfred declares halfway through. “It will be when it fits a woman,” comes the reply. There’s potential here for a genuinely interesting gender-flip on the Batman myth. There’s no sign of it yet, though, which leaves Batwoman flapping in the tailwind of HBO’s jaw-dropping Watchmen. Still, it’s better than Gotham.
Maxxx (All 4)
From Walk Hard to Popstar, there’s something about the music industry that is particularly rife for great comedy. Maxxx, which arrived on E4 this week, is no exception. O-T Fagbenle (The Handmaid’s Tale) is laugh-out-loud funny as the eponymous musician, a former star of a forgotten boyband who is desperate to launch a comeback. The six-part sitcom, based on a web series from All 4, follows Maxxx’s attempts to reconnect with an old record producer and – with the dire advice of his social media manager (the excellent Helen Monks) and the attempt of wise guidance from smart Oxford grad Tamzin (Pippa Bennett-Warner) – reunite his former band members is cringe-inducingly brilliant. Fagbenle manages to keep us on side despite his character’s repeated horrendous behaviour, with one funeral set piece an inspiredly horrifying climax.
Putin: A Russian Spy Story (All 4)
It’s huge testament to Channel 4’s diversity and quality of output these days that in the same week as it brings us Batwoman and a foul-mouthed music satire, it also drops a three-part documentary profiling Russian president Vladimir Putin. One of the most legitimately terrifying figures in the world, the country leader is about to embark on a dramatic overhaul of the Russian constitution, which could allow him to retain power after his presidential term expires in 2024. This programme takes us all the way back to his little-discussed childhood, tracing how the influence of Russia’s answer to James Bond led him to join the KGB and, after being stationed in Dresden and returning back home following the Soviet Union’s collapse, eventually poisoning Alexander Litvinenko. It’s unsettling, insightful and utterly compelling viewing, one that both explains and unpicks the motivations of a secretive leader, which only makes him even more unnerving. Whether distracting yourself from the worries of the coronavirus with a reminder of the worrying situation of global politics is another matter entirely.