Catch up TV reviews: Midwinter of the Spirit, Charlie Hebdo, Look Into My Eyes
James R | On 28, Sep 2015
Rugby World Cup (ITV Player)
Whether it’s Japan’s surprise win or Wales’ stunning victory, you can catch up with the Rugby World Cup on ITV Player – several stadiums full of entertainment that not only dwarfs but also outclasses a lot of the service’s usual content.
Photo: Harry Page / ITV
Charlie Hebdo: 3 Days That Shook Paris (All 4)
Channel 4’s documentary about the tragic January attacks by Islamic extremists on the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, is billed as the “definitive” account of the events. While that make conjure up images of sensationalist tabloid journalism, with unsubtle music and distasteful narration, this film is worth noting just for how understated it is. Working step by step through the attack, it realises that the subject itself is enough to make for powerful viewing.
Available until: 24th October
Photo: Jamie Fry / Pro Co
Look Into My Eyes (All 4)
Hypnosis, so the accepted wisdom goes, can’t make people do things they wouldn’t normally do. This comedy show, which sees “Archie Manners” use his powers on unsuspecting members of the public just “so that he can mess with them”, is therefore hard to buy into, as our host forces people to give him money and reveal truths about themselves on dates.
But convincing illusion isn’t the name of the game here, thankfully, as Archie’s posh boy persona (in one scene, he convinces someone to pay for his restaurant bill, which includes caviar and champagne) is always played for laughs. Presenting his mental feats before swearing loudly at the camera about how he wants to get out of whatever poverty-stricken place he’s in, that brash delivery makes for a surprisingly unique and funny watch – the fact that it’s only 30 minutes stops you wishing for a disappearing act.
Available until: 22nd October(Episode 1)
Photo: Charlie Fearn / Objective Productions
Midwinter of the Spirit (ITV Player)
There’s nothing like a dead body hanging from a tree with barbed wire on its head to get you in the mood for an ITV drama. No, not Midsomer Murders: this is Midwinter of the Spirit, a spiritual horror series that’s part-The Exorcist and part-Lovejoy.
Anna Maxwell-Martin stars as the brilliantly named Merrily Watkins, a quaint country vicar with a sideline in vanquishing evil spirits from human hosts, but make no mistake: this is full-on nastiness from the off. You’re a long way from Dibley.
That embrace of the genre gives things an enjoyably gory, grim pallor, diving into the bucket of spooky cliches without hesitation. After all, it’s been a long time since Messiah, perhaps the last TV series to be so unabashedly dark and broodingly religious. But there’s a faint whiff of cheese that goes with the territory that more often than not leaves characters (including one sinister woman with – yes – barbed wire in her car) spouting dreadful dialogue and an exasperated Maxwell-Martin pausing every 10 minutes to look up at the heavens.
“He’s dead,” Merrily tells her predictably off-his-rockers mentor. “But his evil’s still alive… isn’t it?” comes the dramatic reply. She looks up. “I don’t know.”
It’s hokey, but it’s a lot of fun.
Available until: 23rd October(Episode 1)
Photo: ITV Studios
Best movies on Freeview VOD
Cutthroat Island – Demand 5
Love it or love to laugh at it, this Geena Davis pirate flick is worryingly enjoyable.
Available until: 29th September
Open Water – Demand 5
A couple are stranded in the middle of the ocean and surrounded by sharks in this low-key thriller that slowly washes into tense waters.
Available until: 2nd October