Your device has been starved of attention over the summer. It’s been lurking on the dusty glass shelf below the television. You know, the one where it hurts your back when you have to stoop to shove the duster in there, to get behind the wires.
But, rejoice – the arid televisual months are over! Reality shows featuring people jumping over boxes and endless sports competitions have ruled the airwaves. But now, just as the rains eventually return to a parched desert, your device will once again blossom into a cornucopia of genre pleasures. Hit the Record button on your remote to your heart’s delight, my friends – and crack open a bottle of wine while you’re at it.
Scott and Bailey returns this week for its fourth series – my goodness, how the commissioning schedules just fly past. Its feisty combination of crime stories and domestic drama has really hit a chord with ITV audiences, which is why it’s back for another eight episodes, beginning Wednesday at 9pm.
You will notice the blurb is a firm supporter of positive thinking:
Battle-scarred from their shocking conflict last series, Rachel and Janet determine to move forward with focus and honesty. For Rachel, that means giving her career her best shot, unencumbered by the chaos of her personal life. For Janet, it means giving herself the opportunities she deserves, and enjoying her autonomy.
In this spirit, both Scott and Bailey find themselves in front of the promotion board, interviewing for Sergeant. When both pass with flying colours, the task falls to DCI Gill Murray to choose which one stays on as Sergeant at Syndicate 9.
The story of the week involves the kidnap and murder of a vulnerable young adult, Robin McKendrick. When Robin doesn’t turn up at the pub for work on payday, his ex-copper landlord alerts the police. With a brother involved in local gang rivalry, there’s a chance that Robin has been caught up in some sort of reprisal. When a photo of Robin, bound and gagged in the boot of a car, shows up on Facebook, Syndicate 9 know that he’s probably already dead. But the body they recover from a flooded quarry is a woman.
Scott and Bailey wasn’t actually writer Sally Wainwright’s idea. The series was mooted by Suranne Jones and Sally Lindsay, both formerly of Coronation Street, who were fed up with the lack of opportunity for leading roles for women. Lindsay was originally due to play Scott until she became pregnant, and Lesley Sharp stepped in.
That’s it for homegrown drama, I’m afraid. We’ll have to paddle across the Atlantic for the rest.
After 20 years of a self-imposed exile, Barry returns to his homeland and quickly finds himself embroiled in the geopolitical intrigue of a volatile and turbulent Middle Eastern nation.
Set in the fictional country of Abbudin, Tyrant was originally filmed in Israel and then moved to Turkey when the Gaza conflict broke out. It’s an interesting idea, with echoes of The Godfather in its story of a man trying to make his own way in the world who is forced back into the machinations of his nefarious family.
It’s certainly a topical drama – Homeland is rebooting and its next series is set entirely in the Middle East – but viewing figures in the US have been so-so, and so far there’s been no word on a second series of Tyrant.
One show that has already been renewed is The Last Ship. Crime genre purists look away now – there is nothing for you here. This series is a post-apocalyptyic world set after a global viral pandemic wipes out 80% of the world’s population. The crew of a US warship must try to find a cure and save humanity.
It’s kind of reminiscent of Nevil Shute’s On The Beach, of course, but I’m willing to bet that this being Sky 1 at 8pm on a Friday night, we can look forward to mostly action and ‘plosions and fisticuffs. Torpedo tubes at the ready, cap’n, all that sort of thing. In fact, The Last Ship is based on William Brinkley’s novel of the same name, substituting a pandemic for Brinkley’s catastrophic nuclear conflict.
The action fast forwards seven years to 1931, for its final truncated season. It’s a slightly baffling choice, as we’ll have entered the Golden Age of the featured gangster characters such as Capone and Luciano and Meyer – with one glaring exception…
One consequence of the jump in time is that we won’t get to catch up on Michael Stuhlbarg’s terrific portrayal of tea-totaller Arnold Rothstein, the man who organised crime and made into a bone fide corporate enterprise. An inveterate gambler, Rothstein was murdered in 1928.
All good things must come to an end, of course, but although Empire’s ratings were middling in the US it was certainly a critical darling and a couple more seasons – seven seems to be the magic number for cable shows, these days – would have been most welcome.
Au revoir, Nucky. In real life you died in an convalescent home in 1968, so I’m guessing you may make it through.