John Byrne’s TV choices for the week ahead (Dates covered: Monday Feb Monday 2 – Friday 6)
Former Friends' star Lisa Kudrow makes a comeback in, ehm, The Comeback, Stella makes a chaotic return, while it's farewell to Silent Witness and Norah's Traveller Academy.
Pick of the week
The Comeback, Thursday, Sky Atlantic
Former Friends' star Lisa Kudrow is a one-time TV 'It girl' in this uncomfortably funny comedy, which returns for a second season nearly a decade after its first was cancelled. Valerie Cherish was once the darling of the sitcom world and, following a disastrous foray into reality TV, she's back ten years later to try to become the star once more.
In this opening instalment, a somewhat desperate Val shoots footage for a new reality TV pilot she hopes will get picked up by Bravo. Joined by loyal hairdresser turned make-up artist Mickey (Robert Michael Morris), Valerie's keen to bring viewers up to speed with her career over the past decade, from starring in student horror films to launching her own hair care range, complete with catchy slogan : "Cherish your hair, hair care for red heads. Why should blondes and brunettes get all the attention?"
No day in the life of Valerie Cherish is without event and, luckily, cameras are rolling when she learns that her nemesis Paulie G (Lance Barber) is creating a series for HBO about a sitcom writer and his relationship with a neurotic older actress, a redhead named Mallory Church. Incensed and outraged, Valerie gate-crashes the HBO offices to order them to cease and desist, but soon ends up reading for the part of Mallory. There may be a comeback on the cards after all.
Star of the week
Devious Maids, Tuesday, RTÉ2
Season two of Marc Cherry's follow-up to the hugely successful Desperate Housewives has gotten off to a great start and although it'll never reach the levels of popularity enjoyed by the ladies of Wisteria Lane, it's as good as that show was at its peak.
Key to that is the new story lines and situations our Latino maids find themselves in, but a huge plus has been the new direction life has taken for key character Marisol Suarez, played by the hugely impressive Ana Ortiz.
Ugly Betty fans should remember Ortiz as the older sister to America Ferrara's eponymous Betty, but any doubts about her ability to take on a lead role have been dispelled, and then some, by her performances as Marisol.
A college professor, Marisol spent the show's first season undercover as a Hollywood maid in order to find evidence to clear her innocent son, imprisoned for murder. With that problem solved, season two moved on several months and has her in love with the mysterious Nicholas Deering.
In this week's episode, Marisol discovers some shocking news about her fiancé and his curious relationship with his maid, Opal.
Starting this week
Stella, Friday, Sky 1
Ruth Jones’s comedy drama returns and life is as chaotic as ever for Stella. Just when you thought Stella’s house couldn't possibly get more crowded, Michael decides to base the office for his go-it-alone solicitors' firm there. The pair of them are doing great by the way and, career-wise, it’s onwards and upwards for Stel as she starts her second year of nursing training. Things are almost too good to be true.
As for the rest of the Pontyberry crew, Aunty Brenda is in a flap about Dai, who has done a disappearing act, and Big Alan and Little Alan have some obstacles to overcome as they prepare for the launch of their café. Look out, too, for an appearance from Ramon Tikaram (Casualty) as Mr Honey, a consultant at the hospital who, to quote Cheryl, 'rules the ward with a rod of iron held with a fist of surgical steel'.
Here's Ruth Jones looking back on seasons 1-3:
The Keith Lemon Sketch Show, Thursday, ITV2
The indefatigable Keith Lemon returns to the small screen and affectionately spoofs TV, film and famous faces. Guests will include Paddy McGuinness, Carrie Fisher, Jonathan Ross, Fearne Cotton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Phillip Schofield, Dermot O’Leary and many more.
Quiz Nights, Friday, Sky 1
Warning! This is not a sitcom. Teams from various drinking holes up and down the UK go head-to-head to prove they’re general knowledge geeks. Kicking things off are The Chicks in Barnsley, We Are Family in Newport, The Old Boys in Catford and The Quizlamics in Manchester.
Ending this Week
Silent Witness, Monday & Tuesday, RTÉ One
The last two episodes of this classy procedural are on Monday and Tuesday. Rising star Sergeant Sam Honeywell is found beaten and shot in his burnt-out car in Essex. The police are up in arms in what is a hugely emotive and political case for them, and DCI Jim Sullivan is determined to nail Honeywell’s killer. When a local drug dealer and son of known crime boss Dean Fallon seems to have his alibi sewn up, suspicion shifts closer to home. Honeywell is discovered to have been in an affair with Kate Parry, wife of his best friend, Sergeant Carl Parry (James Alexandrou). It looks bad for Parry, and Jack reveals details of Honeywell’s final moments, which hits Sullivan hard - he had been like a father to the murdered cop.
Ramsay's Hotel Hell, Tuesday, Channel 4
In the last programme of the series, Ramsay checks in to the Historic Calumet Inn, which is in Pipestone, Minnesota. Joint owners Vanda and Rina Smrkovski were given the inn as a gift by their father. These siblings have been playing hotel for nine months, staff are on the brink of revolt, and guests are dissatisfied.
Norah's Traveller Academy, Thursday, RTÉ2
In episode four Norah Casey meets Christine Collins - daughter of actor Michael Collins and travelers rights activist Catherine Joyce Collins - who aspires to running her own mobile beauty business. Impressed with Christine’s ambition, but unsure about her business vision, Norah Casey advises her young trainee to research the real potential of her business on the streets of Dublin before securing an intensive beauty training course at the high end salon of Dylan Bradshaw. Over the three months, with Norah’s guidance, Christine sets about developing a range of beauty treatments and a brand image for her new business, as her mentor organises a major launch event with a host of potential clients and industry professionals.
Drama of the week
Justified, Saturday, TG4
If you haven't yet seen this drama about a tough cop and the crazy goings-on in his criminally dysfunctional hillbilly hometown of Harlan, Kentucky, please do yourself a favour. Catch-ups available on both Netflix (seasons 1-4) and Sky, with the latter also having season five.
In this week's episode, when drug cartel hit man Alberto Ruiz wants to punish Boyd for the bodies he left behind in Mexico, Wynn Duffy lies and says he killed him following the bomb attack on Picker. To save himself from the cartel’s vengeance, Duffy offers to deliver Darryl Crowe Jr and then turns to Boyd to get it done. However, wanting to bring Darryl in for shooting Art, Raylan presses Boyd and Duffy to help him, too. Meanwhile, after refusing to cooperate with Raylan, Ava rallies her followers in prison to protect her from the Aryan Sisters gang.
Comedy of the week
Girls, Monday, Sky Atlantic
This week Hannah is confronted by her classmates - who have been pretty judgemental towards her - after leaving an unapologetic apology letter in their cubbies. Shoshanna, meanwhile, is still struggling to find a job and, receiving one too many rejections, decides to spend the day with Ray. Tensions between Marnie and Desi boil over as well. Oh, life!
Here's the inside video for last week's episode:
Alias, Sky on Demand, available from Feb 1
See all five seasons of this cult spy series created by JJ Abrams. Juno actress Jennifer Garner made her Golden Globe-winning breakthrough as Sydney Bristow, a double agent working for the CIA to bring down an enemy organisation. Humour, heart and a raft of twists and turns ensure it’s a fun and gripping ride.
Documentary of the week
OCD and Me, Monday, RTÉ One
Most people have heard of OCD but what exactly is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? It affects between 2-3% of the Irish population and presents itself in many unusual guises.
One of the people featured in this documentary is Jacob a 25-year-old Dublin artist whose daily existence is dominated by his battle with severe contamination OCD. He views himself as ‘OCD clean’ and most of the world as ‘OCD dirty’. Jake gets frustrated with the lack of awareness of this disorder and throw away phrases like ‘a little bit OCD’ which make a joke of this mental illness. His mother, Mella, also lives with her own form of OCD. Mella gives us a unique perspective, not only as a parent of a son who is unable to touch her, but also as someone who has lived with her own OCD since youth.
Film of the Week
Mission: Impossible, Wednesday, E4
Brian De Palma took the helm for this first instalment of the action thriller franchise. Tom Cruise stars as agent Ethan Hunt, a member of America's elite IMF team (that's the Impossible Mission Force; not the International Monetary Fund). Hunt and a group of colleagues are sent to Prague to prevent a list of undercover agents' identities from being disclosed, and to root out a traitor. But things go disastrously wrong and, as the sole survivor, Hunt must prove his innocence and discover the real betrayer before he is terminated by his own government.