Aidan Smith's TV week: Marcella, Fate: The Winx Saga, Hip Hop: the Songs that Shook America, DeLorean: Back from the Future
Has she gone and done a Bobby Ewing? Quit the show like Dallas’ Patrick Duffy only to realise it’s a cold, unforgiving world out there and force the producers to take him back, in his case re-entering the action via a shower and rendering an entire season just a dream?
This must be it, you’re thinking, for in the opening scene Friel is in the shower. Well, at least the writers have come up with a new beginning since we were first introduced to Marcella in 2016 in the bath.
Then … oh look, she’s in the bath again! Does Friel have naked, smallest room-based scenes written into her contract? Both The Street and Deep Water had one, not that I’m counting. Don’t call me the pervert – I don’t write the scripts.
Anyway, she’s not Marcella Hardman this time, but Keira Devlin, who’s gone blonde to be an undercover gangster’s moll.
She’s infiltrated the Maguires, a vicious Irish crime dynasty who casually bump off one of their own when he’s caught stealing.
This was Devlin’s man, but in no time she’s in bed with the poor sap’s brother-in-law while these two are spied upon through a hole drilled in the ceiling by the clan’s weirdest, but brainiest member who rarely leaves his attic room overstuffed with hand sanitisers. He’s the biggest perv around here.
Amanda Burton is the Maguires’ matriarch, a toweringly unsentimental character overseeing dodgy deals and human trafficking with a vast portrait of herself in the hallway of their mansion and the Belfast cops in her pocket.
Burton is terrific at being a chilling bitch who nevertheless doesn’t seem smart enough to suspect Devlin – at least not yet – with our girl endearing herself to these thugs when the most thuggish of them bottles the Foreign Secretary’s son to death in a nightclub VIP room and she helps the murder trail go cold.
What a mad show. And what great, gaping holes of credulity exist therein.
Marcella was devised by Hans Rosenfeldt, who brought us the brilliant Danish-Swedish crime drama The Bridge.
Back in those far-off, pre-Brexit days, everyone was expecting free movement over to ITV of those cool Scandi-noir stylings. And there was no border hold-up to the central character being unhinged, sexy, infuriating to her bosses, but expert at her job.
The show started off promisingly, but seems, after a couple of episodes of season three and no longer bearing Rosenfeldt’s hand, to have gone AWOL like its protagonist.
Friel, though, is highly watchable and I don’t just mean in that way. Who knows how this will turn out and which side of the law Marcella/Keira will choose.
Those saucer eyes are wide open, but they’re not giving much away.
During the opening minutes of Fate: The Winx Saga I’m shouting: “Hogwash!” This comes out wrong. It should of course be: “Hogwarts!”
But the drama anticipates comparisons with JK Rowling and has one of the characters groaning: “Ohmigod, are you the only person in this university who’s never read Harry Potter?”
A teen show set in a college for “fairy warriors” isn’t really my kind of thing, but plenty of you like it because it’s currently No.1 on the Netflix chart.
It seems to have just the right amount of spells, spires, oak panels, dust-trapped shafts of sunlight, dormitory bitchiness, sexpots, oddballs, bimbos, himbos, lush lawns and doubtless charitable status jiggery-pokery, but, really, how would I actually know?
Abigail Cowen, looking like a young Nicole Kidman, is new girl Bloom, smart and self-possessed and not likely to fall for the most popular boy’s chat-up, at least not right away.
She’s different from the other students – being schooled to battle scary monsters and super-creeps like the Burned Ones – in that she comes from a normal family background.
Well, normal in as much as her parents dealt with her teenage stroppiness by removing the door of her bedroom. And normal considering Bloom’s reaction was to send flames from her palms shooting through the house, leaving her mum with third-degree burns.
In 2007 – long before Kim Kardashian, presidential aspirations and thousand dollar gutties – I saw Kanye West play a former abattoir in suburban Edinburgh. It was a great show, rounded off by “Jesus Saves”, subject of the first in the new documentary series Hip Hop: the Songs That Shook America (BBC4).
West wrote the track in between his two car accidents. Initially there was commercial resistance to faith as subject matter, hence the lines: “They say you can rap about anything except Jesus/That means guns, sex, lies, videotape/But if I talk about God my record won’t get played, huh?”
Thankfully, the chain-gang beat and the chorus from Harlem’s Addicts Rehabilitation Centre Choir proved un-turn-downable. A dope joint, indeed.
DeLorean: Back from the Future (BBC2) is the story of a supercar and its inventor.
Before designing the famous gull wings, John DeLorean re-shaped his own jawline. With his bling and boasts of a “strong sex drive”, he was almost a prototype rapper.
But Jesus wasn’t about to save this “malignant narcissist” – the words of his model ex-wife.
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