Catch up TV review: The Voice UK, No Offence, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Halcyon, Unforgotten
James R | On 08, Jan 2017
The Voice UK (ITV Hub)
Could The Voice make the jump from BBC to ITV and still bring in the viewers? The show’s new home showed no sign of being under pressure, introducing its four judges with a glitter-raining, lights-flashing, big-budget-touting rendition of the Queen and David Bowie classic. The cover wasn’t without its flaws, but the statement of intent behind was clear – and, when Will.I.Am, Sir Tom Jones and Gavin Rossdale were joined by their fourth “coach”, impossible to ignore. Why? Because it was being belted out by Jennifer Hudson, one of the most arresting voices in showbiz.
Hudson, of course, found fame on American Idol, before Dreamgirls (on stage and on screen) confirmed that her talent was no publicity stunt, and it was that star quality (and talent contest validity) that she brings to ITV’s incarnation of the show. There are tweaks to the familiar formula – the judges’ chairs now don’t turn around at all, if they don’t buzz in favour of the contestants, which is designed to give the blind auditions a little more edge – but it’s Hudson who’s the reason to tune in, from her amusing quips to her sincere, in-depth singing tips she offers 18-year-old McDonald’s worker Diamond. It’s that focus on just the voice that helps to distinguish the BBC’s old favourite from the meaner, more exploitative X Factor. Even the judges seem to prefer their new home – “I think it’s better like this,” says Tom at one point. It certainly feels glitzier than the Beeb’s new Saturday night contender, Let It Shine. The tired weekend routine of singing competitions has felt stale for a long time now, but there’s still some life left in this format.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 2 (All 4)
Andy Samberg’s US cop comedy returns for a fourth season, as Peralta (Samberg) and Holt (Andre Braugher) end up in witness protection in Florida. You might fear that a change in scenario would leave the show struggling to keep the laughs up, but fear not: Brooklyn Nine-Nine is as hilarious as ever, packing in gags after gags, each one effortless driven by characters that have had four seasons to evolve and develop. Holt and Peralta’s odd couple relationship has been a staple of the programme ever since its first season and their chemistry remains off-the-charts good, as they simultaneously fight to maintain each other’s cover and undermine each other constantly. The rest of the office, back in Brooklyn, struggling to deal with an incompetent replacement for Captain Holt is just as funny, as they try to push their spineless boss to be more strict (“If that’s what you want!”). Throw in a prison break to boot and you have a hugely promising start to an arresting new run.
No Offence: Season 2 (All 4)
If there’s one thing Paul Abbott’s police comedy isn’t, it’s subtle. Returning to our familiar team of Friday Street’s Manchester crime-fighters, it’s immediately clear that hasn’t changed, as a funeral soon gives way to an explosive confrontation. Reliable DC Spike (Will Mellor) and dedicated PC Tegan (Saira Choudry) and the rest are all quick to respond and contain the situation, but the ensemeble is held together well by Joanna Scanlan’s DI Viv Deering. As confident and ruthless as ever, she bolshes her way through life, not even caring about clashing with Manchester’s gangster matriarch, Nora Attah (Rakie Ayola). Scanlan, a veteran of The Thick of It, is visibly at home in this brash environment, firing off one-liners with an unflinching attitude that promises to rub new boss Christine Lickberg (the wonderful Sarah Solemani, off Him & Her) up the wrong way. It’s blunt, it’s in-your-face and it knows it. Subtle? Not at all. Funny? You betcha.
The Halcyon (ITV Hub)
Missing Downton Abbey? Pining for Crossroads? ITV has you covered with this blend of both, which whisks us back into 1940 London to watch the impact of the war upon the running of fancy hotel, The Halcyon. The result is your usual mix of upstairs/downstairs sex and politics, but it’s the cast that make it fun to watch. Steven Mackintosh is on perfectly prim and proper British form as the hotel manager, Richard Garland, while Olivia Williams is lemon-suckingly fierce as Lady Hamilton, the wife of the hotel owner, just waiting to get the chance to run the place with full authority. A fledgling romance between receptionist Emma (Hermione Corfield) and the glamorous Freddie Hamilton (Jamie Blackley) is a cute addition, while jazzy numbers from Jamie Cullum are a bonus. The real fun in the first episode, though, comes from Alex Jennings, who, after a wonderfully snivelling turn in Netflix’s The Crown, is on brilliantly sneering, sleazy form here as Lord Hamilton. It’s hardly Shakespeare, but the cast are clearly enjoying their stay. You likely will too.
Unforgotten: Season 2 (ITV Hub)
“And so it begins,” says Nicola Walker at the start of the second season of Unforgotten. And with those words, it’s easy to slip back into the world of Cassie (Walker) and Sunny (Sanjeev Bhaskar), as they find themselves given another ultra-cold case to solve. This time, it’s a body found in a suitcase on the River Lea, and while they begin to identify him, the show introduces us to four separate storylines. We know, inevitably, that they will somehow become connected to the central mystery, but the show’s success lies in its ability to make them more engaging than more plot points. There’s Brighton-based lawyer Colin (Mark Bonnar), whose current relationship becomes entangled with a figure from his past; school teacher Sara (Badria Timimi), who’s applying for a promotion; nurse Marion Kelly (the always-excellent Rosie Cavaliero), who has a knack for engaging with her patients; and DI Tessa Nixon (Lorraine Ashbourne), a respected police officer months away from retirement, who’s also the murder victim’s wife. There are moments of nuance in each strand to appreciate – Adeel Akhtar brings oodles of realism and depth to his character’s marriage with Sara – but best of all is just spending time with Cassie and Sunny, whose chemistry is utterly believable. Six hours of Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar helping each other be good at solving crimes? And so it begins.