Catch Up TV review: Catch-22, Ackley Bridge S3, The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes
Ivan Radford | On 25, Jun 2019
Catch-22 (All 4)
When it comes to comedy, a little George Clooney can go a long way. Catch-22, based on the purportedly unfilmable novel by Joseph Heller, knows that all too well; while it starts with the Three Kings and Intolerable Cruelty star hamming it up as a drill sergeant with strong feelings about arm movements during parades, his supporting turn is just that, setting the stage for an impressive bevy of other stars. They include Hugh Laurie and Kyle Chandler as swaggering, smiling or sarcastic officers, which only adds to the intimidating, detached nature of high command, which thinks nothing of coolly sending scores of men to their deaths in the name of arbitrary combat. Underneath them stands one pilot who sees through the absurdity and can’t unsee the horror of what’s happening – which means that he’s sane, but sanity isn’t grounds to be declared unfit for duty, no more than the liver problem he keeps trying to fool the doctor into thinking he has. Jumping from those quip-filled medical appointments to the farce of the barracks, Hulu’s series hits the ground running, with laughs and satirical bullets flying fast. And the combat? Even that’s impressive too. Fit for duty and fiercely scripted, consider us signed up for the whole six episodes.
Ackley Bridge: Season 3 (All 4)
School’s in once again this summer, as Channel 4’s Ackley Bridge returns for a third season. The show has always been an endearingly earnest watch, as it charts the difficulties – and joys – of two communities being united into one (fictional) multi-cultural academy school in the titular (also fictional) Yorkshire mill town. It’s a premise that’s so ripe with timely potential that it was even the subject of a recent Channel 4 documentary, and the comedy-drama has built around it a whole host of likeable characters and conflicts. Fresh tensions arise in its third run with the addition of new faces – including Charlie Hardwick as the enjoyably blunt Director of Behaviour, Rob James-Collier as Deputy Head Martin, who has a novel way of dealing with angry parents, and Phoebe Tuffs-Berry as Rukhsana, a new troublemaker in the pupil ranks. But its heart remains the cross-cultural friendship between Nas (Amy-Leigh Hickman) and Missy (Poppy Lee Friar). The pair are as excellently performed as ever, with a sincere chemistry that makes their bond wholly convincing, especially after Missy’s support of Nas when she came out to her mum in Season 2. Season 3 brings the simple pleasure of their relationship into sharp relief, as it introduces the possibility of the pair parting ways, with Nas venturing to Oxford University for an interview and Missy realising that she may have to bid farewell to her BFF. The result raises the question of class that has long simmered under Ackley’s playground tarmac, and it’s tackled with signature humour and heart.
The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes (All 4)
Dementia is having something of a moment in mainstream TV, with BBC One’s Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure followed by this new Channel 4 series. The series gathers together 14 people who all have dementia and gets them to run an eatery, trying to impress guests – including, in Episode 2, a food critic. It’s the kind of concept that sounds exploitative and cruel, but actually turns out to be sensitive and hugely enlightening – in other words, exactly the kind of reality series that Channel 4 excels at.
The show is faultless at treating its participants with understanding, finding each one a job that matches their abilities and accommodates their symptoms – with Peter, for example, getting to use his social charms to welcome people to the restaurant, while Jacqui’s sharp cognitive functions organises the influx of customers. “I took over the family business when my father had dementia,” Peter tells us with a laugh. “Now, someone has had to do the same for me!”
The revelation of just how many forms dementia can take is not only rewarding and surprising but essential viewing, with time taken to spell out (literally on screen) the conditions of each person we meet, from middle-age to later years. Served up with a delicately light touch, it’s an eye-opening reminder of the importance that support and purpose plays in life, and that people can still find happiness and comfort and contribute to something meaningful even when others might have dismissed them. Informative, encouraging, reassuring and entertaining – what’s not to like?