Catch up TV review: Stath Lets Flats S3, The Good Fight S5, The Love Trap, Angela Black
Ivan Radford | On 31, Oct 2021
The Good Fight: Season 5 (All 4)
What will The Good Fight do now that Trump is no longer in the White House? Exactly the same as it’s done for its first four seasons: the legal drama is a masterclass in how to tap into topical events and repurpose headlines for its own ends, diving into big issues and difficult questions and somehow using them to generate sizzling legal drama while also using the sizzling legal drama to answer the questions being posed in the first place. Season 5 has lost none of that razor-sharp focus, as demonstrated by the way that it makes up for the lack of Season 4’s second half (scrapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic) by jumping back and forth between “previously on…” and “present day” segments to update us on who’s where and what’s what. And there are definitely changes on the cards, as Lucca (Cush Jumbo) prepares to depart by making a move to London and Adrian (MVP Delroy Lindo) readies to retire for a move into politics. That leaves Diane (Christine Baranski) and Liz Reddick (Audra McDonald) trying to work out how to take the law firm forward, while also asking themselves what and who they’ve become as a result of their own past choices and compromises. All this unfolds against the changing White House administration, which has its own consequences for Kurt (Gary Cole) and Julius (Michael Boatman), and the show excels at the way it echoes national shifts in social and political dynamics in the changing interpersonal relationships of its eclectic and fully rounded ensemble. With Mandy Patinkin waiting in the wings as the season’s big guest star, expect fireworks and moral conundrums aplenty – but until then, there’s the looming spectre of Covid-19 itself, which notably impacts one of the best supporting characters, and leads to some of the most pointed and topical debates of personal responsibility and systemic inequality the show has had to date. That it does so while also being hilariously surreal is testament to just how well written the series still is – a fifth season even without some of our favourite players? No objections here, your honour.
Stath Lets Flats: Season 3 (All 4)
If Jamie Demetriou isn’t already a national treasure, consider the campaign started now. He once again returns to our screens with his most inspired creation: the incompetent lettings agent Stath, a man who never let the incorrect pronunciation of every single world get in the way him finishing a sentence. The show, of course, has long found ways to make us care about Stath as well as laugh at him, and Season 3 sees him endearingly trying to work through his nerves, fears and excitement about becoming a dad, after colleague Carole (the always-brilliant Katy Wix) became pregnant. That takes the form of him singing at random people’s babies in the street (“pavement babies”) while also looking to his family for examples and support. Unfortunately, that’s at just the point the whole business has had to close the office and move into Stath’s own home to keep running – the kind of cramped recipe for chaos that co-star Natasia Demetriou as Stath’s sister, Sophie, thrives upon. With Ghosts’ MVP Kiell Smith-Bynoe also in the mix as Dean – “You think I’m having a meeting with a fish for jokes?” – the third season is off to a superb start, with a committed cast, flawless comic timing and a dizzying gag rate that rivals Airplane! and Arrested Development. More please.
Angela Black (ITV Hub)
A domestic thriller about an abusive marriage isn’t exactly the most pleasant pitch for an ITV series, but this six-part drama gets off to a promising start by avoiding the temptation to sensationalise or exploit the set-up for suspense – the reality of the harrowing relationship that Angela Black (Joanne Froggatt) is in is treated as mundanely as possible. That’s not to say it isn’t disturbing, however, with Michiel Huisman as her husband, Olivier, saying such queasily nasty things to justify his behaviour, such as: “Beautiful things can be flawed, can’t they?” The suspense, rather, comes from the revelation that he’s planning to divorce her, and has hired a private detective (Samuel Adewunmi) to dig up the dirt he needs to get custody of their kids – only for the PI to realise what’s going on and decide to secretly help Angela instead. The opening hour is sensitively told introduction to what has the potential to be a thoughtful and moving drama, but however it turns out, there’s no doubting that Froggatt is the programme’s secret weapon, holding every scene together with the same gritted resilience that Angela relies upon day after day.
The Love Trap (All 4)
With Netflix churning out dating reality series on an almost weekly basis, there’s a growing battle among the other broadcasters to come up with the remaining permutation of possibilities left. Channel 4 has taken one of the less likely format ideas by literally creative a Love Trap in the form of three trapdoors – and then unceremoniously dropping a losing contestant through one of them at the end of each episode. Why? Because not all the people participating in this programme are single – the eight women competing to win the heart of bachelor David Birtwistle are there trying to win a cash prize, but four of them are already coupled off and hoping to trick their way into his affections. Host Joel Dommett doesn’t know which is which and we don’t find out until David has picked the person to drop through the trapdoor. The result, complete with an awkward spooning challenge in Episode 2, is a little too cringe-inducing to work – and, by keeping us in the dark throughout each episode, the show actually winds up being far less entertaining than ITV’s similar Ready to Mingle.