Catch up TV reviews: Liar Season 2, McDonald & Dodds, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Meet the Richardsons
James R | On 11, Mar 2020
Liar Season 2 (ITV Hub)
Joanne Froggatt is back for round two of ITV’s provocative drama, which impressed in its first season by balancing topical, challenging issues of consent, assault and justice with a slippery did-he-didn’t-he mystery. Now, with Season 1 revealing that he did, we join Froggatt’s teacher, Laura, as she faces accusations against her – this time, that she was the one responsible for Andrew (Ioan Gruffudd) turning up dead in a nearby marsh. The result is decidedly less gripping, given that we are already on the side of Laura, who maintains her innocence, and the continuing presence of Gruffudd in flashbacks doesn’t add much to the story or characters – although it does give Gruffudd a chance to act creepy with a nice, friendly smile. Katherine Kelly’s police officer feels more driven by plot points than by believable behaviour – in real life, police would be far kinder to a rape victim – but Froggatt is always watchable and writers Harry and Jack Williams will no doubt have some kind of surprise up their sleeve – judging by the moment where Andrew puts on a baseball cap as a disguise, they see this as ITV’s answer to You. If anyone can do it, it’s them.
McDonald & Dodds (ITV Hub)
If ever there were a TV show that started with a name, it’s surely McDonald & Dodds, a detective drama that works like fast food for ITV viewers – efficiently delivering the goods without any major surprises. The only surprise, perhaps, is that the ever-busy Jason Watkins stars as Dodds, a bespectacled police veteran who hasn’t been out from behind a desk for years. He’s paired with Tala Gouveia’s McDonald, a confident up-and-comer determined to make arrests quick and climb the career ladder even quicker. Needless to say, they clash, but Watkins underplays any conflict with a gentle smile. Robert Lindsay as an out-and-out villain is put front and centre for the first of the cop duo’s two-parter – and, while that saps the mystery of any, well, mystery, and the depiction of Bath never dares to go beyond merely stereotypical, there’s fun in seeing Watkins outsmart the lot of them, selling his old-timer’s overlooked knack for spotting crucial clues with a refreshingly understated presence. Sherlock or Monk, this ain’t, which is mostly a good thing.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
What if everyone burst into song every day to express their feelings? That’s the premise at the heart of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, and it’s one that fans of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will be all too familiar with. Zoey tries for a different route to the same end – an incident during an MRI scan leaves her wired to hear other people’s thoughts through the medium of chart-topping hits. Cue people singing “Help!” on their way to work and “I Think I Love You” to their crushes. It’s a format that can easily feel tired or cliched – a scene involving her immobile dad, played by Peter Gallagher, is more wince-inducing than heart-wrenching – but it’s testament to the lead performance by Jane Levy and the harmonious support from Skylar Astin (Pitch Perfect) that you’re willing to go with its cheesy groove.
Meet the Richardsons (UKTV Play)
Somewhere between Curb Your Enthusiasm and Hoff the Record comes this new comedy from Dave, which sees Jon Richardson play himself. The mockumentary sitcom follows Jon and his wife, Lucy Beaumont, through their day-to-day lives, from being parents to being married. Jon plays into his own neurotic unhappiness, and a lot of the fun comes from trying to tell where the line is between knowing self-parody and real life marital tensions. A cameo from Rob Beckett sets the tone for the series’ string of celebrity appearances – each one playing themselves – and while there’s a risk of things becoming too cliquey, that impressive backdrop of playful self-awareness makes the whole thing just that enjoyably more believable.