Tag Archives: Boardwalk Empire

TV Crime Log: Bailey, Tyrant, Ship & Empire

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 & BaileyScott 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.

TyrantTyrant premieres on Fox on Friday night at 9pm. It’s about Bassam ‘Barry’ Al-Fayeed – the son of a Middle East dictator who has escaped to California, where he lives with his wife and two children.

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.

UnknownOne 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.

Boardwalk EmpireMake the most of this fifth season of Boardwalk Empire, because it’s going to be your last. A shame, really, because Empire really only hit its stride in the last two seasons.

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.

TV Crime Log: Legacy


There’s some good telly ramping up for Christmas. Legacy is a thriller that takes us back to the 1970s. Three-day weeks, petrol rationing and industrial strife and the constant shadow of nuclear annihilation – ah, those were the days.

As part of the BBC’s Cold War season, Charlie Cox, him off Boardwalk Empire, leads a top cast in this tale of spies, betrayal and, hopefully, a few Dead Letterboxes. It’s written by Paula Milne and directed by Dredd director Pete Travis from the novel by Alan Judd.

Wrap up warm for the blurb:

Charles Thoroughgood, a trainee spy in MI6, Britain’s Secret Service, is asked to revive his former friendship with Viktor Koslov, a Russian Diplomat he knew at University with a view to ‘turning’ him. But Viktor has his own agenda and reveals a shocking truth about Charles’ own family that threatens to derail him, both personally and professionally.

He is catapulted into a dangerous personal odyssey to uncover the truth but finds himself drawn into a lethal KGB plot to mount an attack within the UK.

His life is further complicated by a relationship with the wife of another agent. He is forced to realize that betrayal can take many forms.

You can see Legacy tomorrow night at 9pm — that’s Thursday — on BBC2.

TV & Radio Crime Log: Corrupted, Poirot, Boardwalk

We like period drama – people in hats and stiff collars committing and solving crime – and there’s plenty of it about this week. Just for a change, we’re going to start with some radio, because that’s the way we roll around here.

b03dyg3wGF Newman is an incredibly prolific writer, who has written for TV – the serial Law And Order, Judge John Deed and New Street Law, among them – as well as novels, and radio and theatre plays and serials.

His latest drama series, The Corrupted, for BBC Radio 4 is based on the characters from his epic crime novel, Crime And Punishment, about the  rise of a London crime family in post-war Britain.

In the first episode, the year is 1951 and, as London celebrates The Festival of Britain, a young boy witnesses a murder that will scar him for life and have lasting consequences that affect his whole family.

The Corrupted is broadcast from Monday to Friday for the next two weeks at 2.15pm on BBC Radio 4, and stars Toby Jones – we like him – and features Ross ‘Grant’ Kemp as the narrator. That’s the cast in that picture. They’re not dressed up in period costume because it’s, like, radio.

Can you adam and eve it, the first episodes of ITV’s adaptions of Agatha POIROT_THE_BIG_FOURChristie’s Poirot stories and novels were broadcast way back in 1989. That’s, er, that’s, er – bear with me – that’s 24 years ago now!

This week ITV transmits the first of the final four adaptions, culminating in Christie’s controversial finale, Curtain, early next year. With the completion of the 66-episodes early next year, every literary work by Christie featuring Hercule Poirot will have been adapted. Along the way, David Suchet has made the part of the irrepressible little Belgian absolutely his own for all eternity. Yes, that long.

Set against the backdrop of the impending World War II, the first film, The Big Four, plunges Poirot into the world of global espionage.

Exercise your little grey cells on this blurb:

In an effort to demonstrate international unity, the Peace Party hosts a grand reception, which re-unites Poirot with his good friend Japp, now Assistant Commissioner of the Met. The illustrious crowd also includes English diplomat Stephen Paynter, and the French scientist and Peace Party stalwart, Madame Olivier. The American tycoon, and hearty backer of the Party, Abe Ryland, fronts the event, which climaxes in an exciting game of chess, where he takes on the reclusive Russian Grandmaster, Dr Ivan Savaranoff Poirot and Japp decide to pool resources following a series of murders.

Poirot realises that each of these crimes is so dramatic and expertly stage-managed as to be almost theatrical… and the murderer must indeed be a master of disguise in order to pull off such varied and ingenious plans.  Through a scrapbook found at Whalley’s house, he tracks down failing actress Flossie Monro, whom he believes may unwittingly be at the root of all this bloodshed.  However, before he can pursue his theories, Poirot himself is also killed! Or is he?

The Big Four is on ITV on Wednesday night at 8pm.

We’ve discussed, have we not, Hercule before? Here’s some information about Christie and her somewhat vexing relationship with the little man, in order to get you in the mood.

Boardwalk-Empire-S04-Keyart-16x9-1A more gritty evocation of life between the wars is Boardwalk Empire, which begins its fourth series on Sky Atlantic on Saturday night.

The show took a season or two to find its feet, I’d say, but it’s motoring along now. It’s a sumptuous evocation of the Prohibition era in Atlantic City with some terrific gangster characters, both real and imagined.

Atlantic City, February 1924: After barely surviving an overthrow by gangster Gyp Rossetti, Nucky Thompson is laying low at the end of the Boardwalk. But the calm will be short-lived, as Nucky faces new challenges, including a clash with the mayor, a battle with his brother Eli over Eli’s college-age son, and the irresistible lure of lucrative and perilous opportunities in Florida.

Nucky makes a peace offering to Joe Masseria while working the odds with Arnold Rothstein. While Chalky is busy running the Onyx Club on the Boardwalk, the impulsive Dunn Purnsley clashes with a booking agent. Gillian seeks custody of her grandson while trying to find a ‘good’ man to keep the Artemis Club afloat. Al Capone enlists his brothers to help him expand his business in the Chicago suburb of Cicero, while Richard Harrow returns to his violent ways.

The series is based on a real-life racketeer called Enock ‘Nucky’ Johnson, who controlled Atlantic City, and who lived till 1968. But creator Terence Winters – another of those talented writers who cut their teeth on The Sopranos – admits that the character, played by Steve Buscemi, is very much a fictionalized version.

If you haven’t seen it, you really should. It can be occasionally slow, carefully building character, but any series with Buscemi, Michael Shannon, Michael Kenneth Williams, Kelly McDonald and Stephen Graham – as Al Capone, no less – needs to be watched. It’s a classy box-set splurge of a show, so it is.

Now go forth and program your devices.