Catch up TV review: Go 8 Bit, The Bulger Killers, James Bulger: A Mother’s Story, The X-Files
James R | On 11, Feb 2018
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.)
Go 8 Bit: Season 3 (UKTV Play)
Can watching famous people play video games ever lose its novelty value? It shows no sign of doing so in Season 3 of Go 8 Bit, UKTV’s brilliantly silly computing contest. Pitching celebrities against each other on revolving sofas, it’s the kind of series that embraces nerdiness without judgement but also without any sense of reverence: a tournament that takes its subject seriously, but never misses a chance to laugh at those taking part. The latest to pick up the joysticks are Jodie Kidd and Gregg Wallace, as they compete at old-school classic Spy Hunter and innovative modern indie Push Me Pull You. But while the competitive streak of team captains Steve McNeil and Sam Pamphilon is always fun, and the imaginative endgames (hello to “Dara’s Butter Spuds”) have lost none of their enjoyment, the real joy is seeing two newcomers welcomed into the fold and their own favourite titles celebrated. That just so happens to be two military titles – Battlefield 1 and Total War: Rome II. If the thought of seeing someone coordinate the marching of a Roman legion up and down a hill sounds dull, you haven’t seen Gregg Wallace do it. The Masterchef presenter is hilariously into his army strategy, to the point where it’s both amusing and endearing. The way the audience get behind him, meanwhile, makes it even more entertaining. Between Dara O Briain’s witty commentary and guru Ellie Gibson’s sarcastic putdowns, Go 8 Bit is a gaming gem that deserves to be booted up again and again.
Go 8 Bit Season 3 premieres on Monday 12th February at 10pm on Dave, with Episode 1 already available to watch online.
James Bulger: A Mother’s Story (ITV Hub)
This week marked the 25th anniversary of one of the most shocking murders in memory: the killing of James Bulger, a two-year-old toddler, by two 10-year-old boys. A quarter of century on, the very thought of two children doing such a thing remains unthinkable, and ITV’s documentary is the first of two programmes trying to make sense of events. It sees Sir Trevor McDonald return to Liverpool to re-examine the crime, which he first reported on back in February 1993. There is little new to be found in retreading the details of the horrific case, but McDonald visits Bulger’s mother, Denise Fergus, who recalls the trauma of that murder. Her interview is handled with sensitivity by the veteran news broadcaster, while her remarkable composure and honesty is heartbreaking to see. The result is an important reminder not only of what happened, but also of the existence of the James Bulger Memorial Trust, which continues to work to support young victims of crime.
Available until: 20th March 2018
The Bulger Killers: Was Justice Done? (All 4)
While ITV’s documentary explored the tragic cost of James Bulger’s murder, Channel 4 takes a different tact and tries to examine the other side of the case: what happened to Robert Thompson and Jon Venables. The title is a provocative one (and wades worryingly close to almost asking for sympathy for the killers), but sets the frame clearly for the programme, which looks to focus at the way the case proceeded and how the law handles young criminals. On that score, though, it falls short, tending to interview journalists (including the former editor of The Sun) rather than psychological experts, and mostly concluding that the legal system is not nuanced enough to work out how to deal with such unimaginable, unusual, inhumane acts. However, the documentary does give shocking clarity to the details of the case itself, as we hear the interview tapes between the police and the killers (also played in ITV’s documentary) and how the boys stopped their lying and admitted to what they had done, even though they seemed unable to explain it. What can lead two children to do something like this? There is no easy answer to be found in a one-hour documentary. This, at least, demonstrates that.
Available until: 17th March 2018
The X-Files: Season 11 (My5)
At what point does The X-Files become unbelievable? Is it the point at which half the planet is potentially infected with alien DNA? Or the point when a tiny mystic crawls out of somebody’s bottom? Season 11 of The X-Files marks a new benchmark, as it begins with Scully (Gillian Anderson) discovering the whole of the Season 10 finale (My Struggle II) was actually a dream.
Creator Chris Carter is no stranger to coming up with outlandish, absurd or overblown twists – if anything, that’s one of the reasons why fans continue to tune into this long-running sci-fi series, even as it returns to our screens after all these years. And so the stage is set for an enjoyably bonkers 11th season, boasting the mother of all retcons – and that dream is just the start of it.
Available until: 7th March 2018