John Byrne’s TV choices for the week ahead (Fri Feb 22 - Thu Feb 28).
From the Oscars to Dexter to Ant & Dec, there’s a lot of new and returning shows to look forward to – and it’s also cheerio time for Operation Transformation and Ripper Street.
Pick of the Week
The 85th Annual Academy Awards (Sunday/Monday, Sky Movies Oscars)
Yep, it’s that time of year again. Just in case you haven’t had enough designer carpet and red dresses, here’s the ultimate award ceremony aka The Oscars. Coming, as usual, from the Dolby Theatre (formerly the Kodak – these damn venue sponsorships are a pain) at the Hollywood & Highland Centre on Hollywood Boulevard, Seth MacFarlane hosts a show that will celebrate films such as Argo and Amour as well as stars of the calibre of Daniel Day Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence.
Exclusively live on Sky’s own Academy channel - Sky Movies Oscars - Alex Zane hosts from the studio with special guests and expert opinion as the celluloid cream of the film world come together for a night of drama, tension and emotion. And that’s just on the quarter-mile, red carpet walk up from Cahuenga Blvd . . . it all starts at 1.30am on Sunday night/Monday morning, with highlights on Monday on RTÉ Two. Anyone who can stomach the entire show live deserves an Oscar.
Star(s) of the week
Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (Saturday, TV3 and UTV)
Perrenial award-winning hosts Ant & Dec return to the small screen with the latest season of their hugely popular Saturday teatime show. In this week's opener, Robbie Williams will take part in a special End of Show performance, while our own Louis Walsh will feature in Hidden House, where he poses as the owner of a very questionable home to a pair of unsuspecting tradesmen.
I know! I can’t wait either.
Starting this week
Dexter (Sunday, FOX)
Given the jaw-dropping finale to the sixth season - when Debra caught Dexter in the middle of killing Travis Marshall - this should be a pivotal run for TV’s most lovable serial killer. Will Debs spill the beans on her homicidal sibling? Elsewhere, Detective Mike Anderson is murdered by a member of the Ukrainian mafia after he stops to help him with a flat tire and discovers the dead body of a prostitute in the boot. Also, Quinn and Batista begin to make amends as they investigate Anderson's and the prostitute's murders and LaGuerta finds a blood slide that Dexter accidentally dropped in the church and begins investigating it.
Elementary (Tuesday, Sky Living)
Back for the second part of its debut season, the inspired teaming of Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Joan Watson resumes with a body in the laundry of a high-end Manhattan hotel, with all the evidence seemingly washed away. There is also a significant shift in Holmes and Watson’s relationship as Joan’s contract as a sober companion comes to an end.
Also starting this week:
Heading Out (Tuesday, BBC Two)
Brand new sitcom penned by Sue Perkins, who also stars as a vet coping with the challenge of coming out to her parents after spending many years in the closet.
Sing Date (Tuesday, Sky Living)
Is this the worst programme in the history of TV? Whoever came up with the concept of a dating show combining online chatting-up and singing deserves to be - well - a contestant.
Radharc na Rúise (Thursday, TG4)
Anglicised as A View of Russia, this is a new four-part Irish language documentary series that explores the links between contemporary Russia and Ireland.
Food Glorious Food (Wednesday, UTV)
Carol Vorderman hosts (and apparently puts on weight) as a team of expert judges seek Britain’s favourite recipe, with the winning dish earning a place on the shelves of a major retail chain and a substantial cash prize.
Johnny Cash: Song by Song (Monday, Sky Arts 1)
This potentially fascinating six-part series explores the life story of legendary country singer-songwriter Johnny Cash through six of his best-loved songs.
Scúp (Wednesday, TG4)
Don Wycherley stars as an Irish language newspaper finds itself in disarray when its editor suddenly dies. Enter Rob Cullan, a Fleet Street journalist with a murky past.
Shameless (Tuesday, Channel 4)
Welcome back to Manchester's most notorious estate for one last 14-part season. (Warning: don’t expect much in order to avoid disappointment.)
Ending this week
Ripper Street (Sunday, BBC One)
The first season of this enjoyable Victorian CSI-like drama comes to a close with things looking grim all-round for the check-trousered sleuths. Jackson is in custody, facing the gallows for a murder he never committed. Drake is in low spirits as his personal life a shambles. And Reid is caught between a rock and a very hard place as his team is in pieces, Leman Street is in mourning - and his heart is torn between two women. The suspected kidnapping of Rose (Charlene McKenna) offers Reid a reason to try and reassemble his men and crack a white slavery ring. But as the clues accumulate, he’s gripped by an obsession that the man he’s hunting may have personal knowledge of the terrible secret Reid harbours about his own past.
Also ending this week:
Operation Transformation (Tuesday & Wednesday, RTÉ One)
The leaders take part in their first 5K run, face their final weigh-in and take to the catwalk and reveal the results of their own personal transformations. It's almost Easter again, folks.
At Your Service (Sunday, RTÉ One)
Francis and John Brennan end this run by coming to the aid of the Kerry Coast Inn on the Ring of Kerry.
Life on the Inside (Monday, RTÉ One)
The second part of this ground-breaking documentary series into life behind bars in Ireland focuses on violence in our prisons.
Take Me Out (Saturday, UTV)
And the bad news is that Take Me Out is back.
Black Mirror (Monday, Channel 4)
Waldo is a CGI blue bear from a children's educational TV show who in reality is an anarchic character on a satirical late-night topical comedy show.
Death in Paradise (Tuesday, BBC One)
Richard and his team investigate when a shot is fired at a charity fundraiser and host Malcolm Powell is found dead in his study.
Ear to the Ground (Thursday, RTÉ One)
Jockey Johnny Murtagh shares his personal story.
Drama of the week
Lightfields (Wednesday, UTV)
This new, five-part drama tells the story follows three families that each lived in Lightfields farmhouse at different time periods (1944, 1975 and 2012) but who are linked by a spooky presence: the ghost of a teenage girl who died in mysterious and tragic circumstances. If it sounds a bit familiar, that’s because it’s almost identical to the subject matter covered by the same channel this time last year in Marchlands. Is this a new trend? Or merely the same story with a different cast?
Comedy of the week
30 Rock (Wednesday, Comedy Central)
Still the funniest show around, the final season of Tina Fey's comedy continues as Jack decides to turn Pete into a real man, Jenna is out for revenge on the writers, and Tracy regains his sense of smell with remarkable consequences.
Documentary of the week
Tommy Bowe’s Bodycheck (Sunday, RTÉ One)
Here’s an insight into what it takes to rise to the top of professional rugby while also exploring the science and physiology of a sportsman. In particular, it's Ireland and Ulster winger Tommy Bowe as he attempts to recover from injury ahead of this year's Six Nations. Bowe’s journey takes him back to explore his GAA roots, as well as putting himself up against a record-breaking sprinter.