Catch up TV reviews: Baghdad Central, Home Season 2, Hypothetical Season 2, Barrymore: The Pool in the Pool
Ivan Radford | On 09, Feb 2020Reading time: 4 mins
Baghdad Central (All 4)
October 2003 and Baghdad has been occupied by American forces for six months; but the disbandment of the Iraqi army, the police and civil leadership in the aftermath of the invasion means there is no one in charge and no effective rule of law.
In the midst of this chaos, crime and paranoia, Iraqi ex-policeman Muhsin al-Khafaji (Waleed Zuaiter) has lost everything and is battling daily to keep himself and his sick daughter, Mrouj (July Namir; Homeland, Collateral), safe.
It’s testament to how thoughtful Channel 4’s thriller is that Bertie Carvel stars as a British diplomat, but the series never once gets distracted by his presence, keeping the focus firmly on Zuaiter’s wearied former cop. The result promises to be a gripping snapshot of the chaos post-US invasion, as well as a movingly crated detective drama.
Home Season 2 (All 4)
Rufus Jones delivered one of the best TV shows of 2019 with Home, a heartfelt, deceptively topical comedy about Sami (Youssef Kerkour), a Syrian immigrant living with Peter (Jones), Katy (Rebekah Staton) and their son John after hiding in their car in Calais. Season 2 picks up eight months later, but Sami is still waiting to here the result of his interview to achieve the right to remain in the UK. Youssef Kerkour is monumentally good, constantly balancing a gratitude and happiness at living in the UK with a frustration and growing sense of loneliness. Everyone around him seems to know what Stonehenge is, an amusingly trivial running joke that’s enough to trigger his feeling of being an outsider. His emotional rollercoaster is balanced brilliantly with Jones’ Peter, whose own rediscovered sense of home leads to him trying to regain Katy and John’s trust after leaving them. The result is a thoughtful study of belonging in modern Britain – and a hugely funny comedy to boot.
Hypothetical Season 2 (UKTV Play)
Josh Widdicombe and James Acaster return for their panel show, which shuns topical commentary or trivial knowledge in favour of absurd theory. Hypothetical tests comedians on their ability to deal with a series of ridiculous hypothetical scenarios. You have to live in a motorway services for a year, how do you cope? You have to take a selfie with Nicolas Cage within 48 hours or you die – how do you do it? Each hypothetical is posed by Josh, while James’ job is to enforce the rules and score the guests’ attempts at dealing with them. What might sound like a dry exercise in improvisation, though, is a relentlessly laugh-out-loud affair, as Josh proves the generous straight man to Acaster’s irresistibly hilarious presence. From his berating of the stage-hands to his quick-witted put-downs of contestants, it’s a treat to watch him having fun, while the guests – Season 2 begins with Jonathan Ross, Maisie Adam, Sara Barron and Rob Beckett – are not only up for it, but also build up a rapid chemistry that keeps the giggles coming throughout.
Barrymore: The Pool in the Pool (All 4)
In the early hours of 31st March 2001, a body was found in the swimming pool of television presenter Michael Barrymore. When Paramedics arrived, Stuart Lubbock’s lifeless body was found by the side of Barrymore’s swimming pool. Every detail of the story was poured over by the media. Was it a drug-fuelled orgy? Was Stuart gay? Did Stuart drown or was there another cause of death? Why did Barrymore flee from his home? Would Barrymore’s career ever recover from the disturbing event?
19 years on, this documentary explores the mystery with compelling detail. Putting the death into context, we not only get a sense of how popular Barrymore was at the time, but also how hard it was for Lubbock’s family at the time and in the years since. With never-before-seen footage cut together with judiciously chosen media clips, the result is an expertly paced deconstruction of a tragic death and our own relationship with the media and celebrities. A must-watch.