John Byrne’s TV choices for the week ahead (Dates covered: Mon Jun 16-Fri 20)
The World Cup continues but don’t worry: there are plenty of non-football options this week on the box. But it’s goodbye to Game of Thrones, Criminal Minds and Grey’s Anatomy.
Pick of the week
How to Be Happy (Tuesday, RTÉ One)
Andrea Pirlo made me a very happy man last Saturday night, but for those who aren't inspired by the talismanic Italian midfielder, Maureen Gaffney's on the ball here. Based on her best-selling book Flourishing, the psychologist shows in this two-part series how they can go about increasing their happiness levels. The book set out to show how one can bring a deeper sense of well-being, meaning and purpose to life once you consciously work at it. Happiness is influenced by genes and life circumstances, but Maureen Gaffney believes a full 40% of happiness is based on things in our lives that we can actually influence. In How to Be Happy she invited people from across the country to join her for a series of workshops where the participants would be introduced to strategies aimed at improving their happiness and then road-tested in their own day-to-day lives.
Star of the week
The Graham Norton Show (Friday, BBC One)
I remember interviewing Brendan O’Carroll a few years ago and he was certain that Mrs Brown’s Boys was about to become a huge hit on TV. “It’s going to be bigger than Fawlty Towers,” he stated boldly. He was right! O’Carroll’s come a hell of a long way since his breakthrough in the early 1990s. Long-established in Ireland, the success of Mrs Brown’s Boys on stage and the small screen has made him a major star in the UK, which is a much bigger market than the one here at home. His audiences aren't the only ones laughing. Following the monstrous success of the sitcom, O’Carroll’s about to launch a movie version, and that’s why he’s Graham Norton’s special guest on this week’s show, alongside X Factor judge and former Girls Aloud member Cheryl Cole, American actor Don Johnson (star of the hugely popular 1980s’ show, Miami Vice), and English comedian John Bishop.
Here's Brendan talking about his success to Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show:
Starting this week
Tigers about the House (Monday, BBC One)
This looks enticingly daft. BBC Two’s new three-part series follows British tiger expert Giles Clark as he hand-rears new Sumatran tiger cubs Spot and Stripe. The cubs were born at the Australia Zoo in Queensland and are two of the most critically-endangered tigers in existence. To help give them the best start and ensure their survival, Clark takes them home to live with his boisterous family, where he gives them round-the-clock care for the first four months of their lives.
Also starting this week:
Friday Night Dinner (Friday, Channel 4)
Ending this week
Game of Thrones (Monday, Sky Atlantic)
Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss gave viewers fair warning that seismic shocks would be staggered throughout season four, and they weren’t kidding. From multiple deaths, including one that will forever be marked with a celebratory slice of pigeon pie, to big character reveals, Game of Thrones continues to be one of the most talked-about TV shows. But, according to those who have read the books, the biggest plot twists have been saved for this season finale. An unexpected arrival from the north of the Wall shakes things up, while Daenerys is forced to face some harsh realities. Bran learns more about his destiny, and Tyrion sees the truth in his situation.
Also ending this week:
The Consumer Show (Tuesday, RTÉ One)
Grey’s Anatomy (Wednesday, Sky Living)
Criminal Minds (Monday, Sky Living)
Drama of the week
Hannibal (Tuesday, Sky Living)
This genuinely disturbing drama continues its carnivorous carousel. Revenge is a dish best served cold and, with the discovery of the Ripper’s lair providing firm evidence of Will’s innocence, he is released from the asylum and ready to put the real killer to rights. The revelation that Miriam Lass, Jack’s star pupil, is very much alive and has been held captive all this time gives Will his best chance yet of proving that Hannibal is the monster in their midst. His optimism is short-lived, though, as attempts to recover Miriam’s hazy memories reveal that she’s been subjected to intense psychological manipulation.
Comedy of the week
Modern Family (Monday, Sky One)
Sitcom weddings rarely run smoothly and Modern Family doesn't buck the trend. In the first of a two-parter finale devoted to their wedding, Mitchell and Cameron have to overcome a whole heap of hitches before they can even think about walking down the aisle and saying ‘I do’. Pepper and his assistant Ronaldo are forced to bring the ceremony forward by four hours because of a spreading wildfire. Then there’s the small matter of Cam’s tuxedo, which has been left in the (now closed) dry cleaners. Even the guests are having a tough time of it. While Jay and Gloria babysit Cam’s parents, Phil squeezes in an eye procedure before trying to track down a very specific present with Alex.
Documentary of the week
No Limbs No Limits (Thursday, RTÉ One)
This is the inspiring story of an extraordinary woman, Joanne O'Riordan. She is one of a handful of people in the world born with no arms and no legs as a result of a rare syndrome called 'Total Amelia'. This intimate family portrait, directed by her brother Steven, documents a life lived without limbs but, more than that, it’s a warm character study of a very special individual. As Joanne bravely faces her battles, we realise it is not her disability that makes her unique but her spirit and heart. The film follows Joanne’s journey from her home in County Cork to the United Nations in New York, where she delivers a challenge to the most influential women in technology: to build her a robot. Through touchingly candid interviews with her parents and moving use of old home movies, No Limbs No Limits demonstrates the incredible things that ordinary people can achieve when motivated by love.
Film of the Week
A Clockwork Orange (Thursday, Sky Atlantic)
Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ dystopian tale about a teen gang with a fondness for rape, violence and Beethoven caused major controversy when it was first released in 1971. It holds up very well 40 years on, and Malcolm McDowell is splendid in the lead role of narrator, protagonist and anti-hero, Alex.