Catch up TV reviews: Hamm on Toast, The Murder Detectives, 24 Hours in A&E, Catastrophe
Ivan Radford | On 06, Dec 2015Reading time: 4 mins
Catastrophe – All 4
Catastrophe’s second season reaches a perfect bittersweet climax, as Rob finds himself accused of sexual harassment and Sharon responds by going out on the town and hooking with a guy half her age – only to not remember any of it. Their inevitable argument is as painful as it is passionate, but never loses the show’s ability to make you laugh: even Sharon’s friend, who sits their as they trade absurdly petty insults, giggles at the spectacle. Between their spiky, natural chemistry and the superb supporting performances , the result is one of the most endearing – and consistently hilarious – TV series of 2015. Can we have Season 3 now please?
Available until: 31st December 2015
Photo: Ed Miller
Toast of London (Hamm on Toast) – All 4
Who doesn’t like Hamm on Toast? Stephen Toast, it turns out, likes Hamm very much. After scoffing at the very idea of the actor, whom he’s never heard of, he’s bowled over by the man’s charisma – something that Hamm nails with all the panache and class of, well, Jon Hamm. It’s an inspired cameo, just in terms of food puns alone, but the pair prove to be a perfect double act: Matt Berry swoons with every fibre of his body, from his quivering eyebrows to his faltering voice, while Hamm remains deadpan throughout, his cool charm only cracking to allow him to look completely baffled. It’s the kind of contrast that keeps Berry’s character in check, preventing him from becoming one-note, while simultaneously proving that Toast can handle celebrity toppings – hello to Brian Blessed – without losing its uniquely surreal edge.
Photo: Ben Meadows
24 Hours in A&E – All 4
What is it about hospitals that make for such compulsive viewing? Casualty has been running for decades, while Grey’s Anatomy is on its 12th season and still shows no signs of slowing. The latest shot of adrenaline to medical TV is the kind of real-time format that made 24 so addictive. After Sky 1’s Critical gave us a one-hour window of nail-biting fiction, Channel 4 returns for more of 24 Hours in A&E, a documentary that gives us a day in the life of a hospital’s accident and emergency unit. The sheer variety of human stories alone is key to the series’ appeal – life, death and surgery is an engrossing combination, but that becomes moving as well as fascinating, thanks to us spending time with both the patients and the people who work there. Snatches of conversations on reception desks become as gripping as the critical operations happening constantly in the background. Casualty has dramatic appeal. This, on the other hand, is undeniably real.
Available until: 30 days after each Thursday broadcast
Photo: Channel 4 / The Garden
The Murder Detectives – All 4
You can tell when a TV show has been successful, because other TV shows begin to imitate it. In the case of the podcast Serial, that influence has jumped from the radio to the screen, with fans rewarded with a wave of true-crime docu-series. HBO’s The Jinx aired earlier this year, while Netflix is about to unveil its own Making a Murderer. All the while, Channel 4 has been making The Murder Detectives, a rather remarkable feat of production and programming: unlike its contenders, which investigate crimes in retrospect, David Nath’s show was filmed over a year and a half live by a heap of cameras, from CCTV to fly-on-the-wall crews. They follow the cops looking into the murder of young Nicholas Robinson in 2014 – a trawl through evidence that is bleaker, slower and more realistic than even Sarah Lund’s darkest adventures – but also the family grieving for their relative. The cops, you sense, are on their best behaviour for the cameras, but there is no glamour on display: this is policing at its most unclichéd and gripping, a tribute to both their work and an emotional study of loss and community. The whole thing spans three episodes. All of them are available until New Year’s Day. Watch them now.
Available until: 1st January 2016 (All episodes)
Photo: Channel 4 / Films of Reco