Catch up TV review: Timeless, David Blaine: Beyond Magic, Vicious
Ivan Radford | On 18, Dec 2016
Timeless (All 4)
E4’s latest US acquisition is Timeless, the kind of time-hopping thriller that was all the rage in the 1990s. Sadly, the script for NBC’s show (created by Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan) doesn’t seen to have advanced much in the last two decades, as the first episode ends up full of plot holes and duff dialogue. The effects, though, are impressive, as we see our time travellers head back to the Hinderburg disaster, complete with blimps, period costumes and, in a novel touch, characters who get annoyed by historical inaccuracies. That’s courtesy of Abigail Spencer’s history professor, who is roped in to join the team of agents. She and Goran Višnjić as our villain both do their best with the material and there’s certainly potential for this brainless telly to improve from its uneven pilot. For now, though, the only reason to tune in is a scene-stealing Paterson Joseph as the inventor of a time machine – it’s almost worth watching for a brief taste of what Johnson from Peep Show would be like in Doctor Who.
David Blaine: Beyond Magic (All 4)
Say the name David Blaine and you’re likely to met with groans and sighs – no surprise, given the outrageously over-the-top stunts he has pulled over the years to craft his borderline-Messianic persona. It’s a treat, then, to see him go back to his roots with this TV special, which melds that taste for extreme physical pranks with genuinely impressive sleight of hand. The usual pretentiousness is still occasionally on display, from the absurdly graphic titles to the talk of the “spectacle of the real”, and the build-up to a much-hyped bullet catch feels a tad cheap, but there’s also a hint of a welcome sense of humour. Seeing him throw people’s phones into lakes, in attempt to make them think they’ve vanished, is genuinely amusing, and that street magic vibe is equally engaging when he’s performing for his celebrity mates. John Travolta’s face as he pulls a coat hanger out of his throat is a sight, while Jennifer Lawrence’s cries of “witch!” are as charmingly honest as ever. The best, though, is Sir Patrick Stewart, who joins in the shock at a neat card trick with a rousing, thespian “Nooooooo!” David Blaine just brought the magic back to his act.
Vicious (ITV Hub)
ITV’s Vicious returns for an hour-long finale that gives Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi one last chance to camp it up for easy laughs. It’s disappointingly formulaic, with Frances de la Tour slumming it in a stereotypical supporting role. All three are clearly enjoying themselves, while Game of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon sparkles as less-fortunate-than-them acquaintance Ash, so it’s a shame we can’t ever say the same, as the dated, lazy script wastes the talent that’s clearly on screen. Not even festive goodwill can redeem this one. The result may not be entertaining TV, but at least it’s an emergency supply of mince, in case your pies need some.
Photo: Brown Eyed Boy / ITV