John Byrne’s TV choices for the week ahead (Dates covered: Sat May 24 - Fri 30)

The Good Wife is back on RTÉ One, Tom Cruise is Graham Norton's special guest - and the World Cup's coming over the horizon. It's another busy week on the box...

Pick of the week

The Good Wife, Thursday, RTÉ One

Forget everything else: this is the best show on TV bar none. And the amazing thing is that The Good Wife doesn't merely tick all the boxes – great cast, well-drawn characters, wonderful guest stars, riveting plots, beguiling story arcs, stunning twists and an immaculate wardrobe - it just keeps getting better and better, and this fifth season is nothing short of sensational. Zach Grenier, who plays the rather flinty partner David Lee, is promoted to series regular, so that’s good for starters. Then there’s the imminent split in the ranks as Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Cary (Matt Czuchry) plan their own law firm, Melissa George joins in the recurring role of Marilyn, newly-elected Governor Peter (Chris Noth) Florrick’s in-house ethics counsel. Oh, and Jeffrey Tambor guests as a judge. The only jarring thing is that The Good Wife is going out at 11.20pm. Red button!

Star of the week

Tom Cruise

The Graham Norton Show, Friday, BBC One

Our Graham is quite the man with stars in his eyes. While some may moan about the lack of major stars on Irish chat shows compared to UK shows, the simple reality is that London is one of the few places on the planet where the glitterati tend to congregate. Over in the English capital with co-star Emily Blunt to promote his latest film, Tom Cruise heads a guest list that includes Oscar winner Charlize Theron and Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane, while Coldplay drop in to play a tune. It’s not the first time that The Cruiser’s been on with Graham, and it surely won’t be the last. For over 30 years he’s been a major movie star, and for most of that time he’s also been the most bankable film actor in the world. October 10, 2006 was declared ‘Tom Cruise Day’ in Japan because he has made more trips to Japan than any other Hollywood star, while his films have grossed a staggering $7.3 billion worldwide. His latest is Edge of Tomorrow, a sci-fi flick set in the near future, where an alien race has invaded Earth and defeated the world's military units. Cruise stars as a military officer caught in a time-loop and continuously killed unless he succeeds. His character could take a few tips from Tom.

Here's the Cruiser taking a call on a previous edition of the show:

Starting this week

Bloom, Friday, RTÉ One

Now in its eighth year, Bloom is Ireland’s largest gardening, food and family festival and runs for five days in Dublin’s Phoenix Park over the Whit weekend, from Thursday 29th May until bank holiday Monday. Once again, RTÉ ONE will be broadcasting a one-off television special from Bloom, showcasing some of the highlights that visitors to the show can expect to enjoy over the following weekend. Keelin Shanley presents while garden enthusiast and Bloom regular Aine Lawlor showcases some of her favourites from this year’s Bloom Showgardens.

Here's the Morning Edition reports from last year's Bloom:

Also starting this week:

Quirke, Sunday, BBC One

If you missed this on RTÉ One here’s another chance to see Gabriel Byrne star in this three-part adaptation of the Benjamin Black novels about a Dublin pathologist who indulges in crime investigation.

The Family Project, Monday, RTÉ One

Back for a second run, celebrities such as John Lonergan, Davy Fitzgerald, Yvonne Keating, John Spillane and Brendan Courtney help families to learn new skills, make small changes and push themselves to try new things to change their lives and inspire their futures.

Ending this week

Revolution, Saturday, Sky 1

While I managed to stay with this disappointing dystopian tale it’s come as a relief to learn that it’s been axed after two seasons because it lacked a real focus and never captured the imagination. Executive producer Rockne S O’Bannon describes the Revolution finale as “really hot” as Miles, Charlie and Monroe launch an attack on the Patriots to prevent all-out war between California and Texas. Neville, meanwhile, is not to be messed with and, looking to quench his appetite for revenge, closes in on President Davis. A real jaw-dropper is also lined up when Aaron and Rachel's efforts to save Priscilla from the nanotech has unexpected consequences.

Here's a trailer for the finale:

Also ending this week:

Elementary, Tuesday, Sky Living

Season two was a real mixed bag, with some really good episodes and others that fell flat. But it picked up in the latter stages and promises to end on a high with what’s been labelled the most important case of Holmes and Watson’s partnership. With Mycroft facing charges for murder and treason, Sherlock has to put his animosity towards his brother to one side and find a way to get him off the hook.

Chicago Fire, Wednesday, Sky Living

A real meat-and-two-veg ensemble drama that always entertains, Chicago Fire ends its second season with a typically dramatic finale. Having discovered a long-lost sister and been on the hit list of a wanted murderer, the last few months have been eventful for Severide to say the least. There’s no sign of life getting easier, either, when a raging fire at a boarding school makes a deep impression on him. Meanwhile, Dawson faces the fire-fighting exam.

Mad Men, Wednesday, Sky Atlantic

The seventh and final season of the multi-award-winning drama reaches its mid-season finale, with the concluding seven episodes not airing until next year. Ahead of the break, Don is troubled by a letter and Peggy considers a new future based on a risky venture. Meanwhile, Pete and Cutler butt heads and Roger receives a phone call.

Perspectives (Sunday, UTV)

Derek (Wednesday, Channel 4)

The Late Late Show (Friday, RTÉ One)

Later Live . . . with Jools Holland (Tuesday, BBC Two)

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (Friday, Channel 4)

The Supervet (Wednesday, Channel 4)

Drama of the week

Playhouse Presents . . . Foxtrot, Thursday, Sky Arts 1

The third season of pilot shows continues with Foxtrot, a tense drama written and directed by award-winning playwright Polly Stenham. Billie Piper leads a great cast as Badger, a stripper-turned kidnapper, holed-up in a hotel with her accomplice Fox (Alice Sanders) and their victim (Ben Whishaw). A phone call from their cold, calculating boss Mrs Dalloway (Lindsay Duncan) reveals that they have kidnapped the wrong man and that their real target was his twin. The man they are now stuck with until dawn has learning difficulties and struggles to communicate with them, but  is their victim all that he seems?

Here's the trailer:

Comedy of the week

Harry and Paul’s The Story of the 2s, Sunday, BBC Two

This will either be brilliant or self-indulgent crap. Inspired by Harry Enfield's Emmy Award-winning mythical biography Norbert Smith and Harry and Paul's recent Question Time spoof, Harry and Paul have come up with their own unique biography of BBC Two. In this one-off 60-minute programme, Harry and Paul - themselves popular fixtures of the channel for half the 50 years - dance through the story of BBC Two starting with its painful birth as ‘Auntie Beeb’ pushes out the now familiar ‘2’ logo into the arms, and much to the delight of, the attending BBC executives. Shot in the studio and on location, the programme will visit and parody in the region of 50 different shows.

Here's the trailer:

Documentary of the week

World Cup Films 1930-1954, Saturday, BBC Two

World Cup films have been a staple of the tournament for many decades and this series looks back at the footage compiled around the competition.  It begins with this in-depth documentary looking back on the first five World Cup tournaments. The World Cup journey began in Uruguay in 1930 with the hosts defeating neighbours Argentina. La Celeste went on to win two of the first four tournaments. Perennial World Cup powerhouses Italy (second only to Brazil in terms of success) also claimed two wins in the formative years of the competition, while England suffered the ignominy of losing 1-0 to the unheralded USA team at the 1950 tournament in Brazil.

Here's a treat, highlights from the legendary 1982 World Cup game between Italy and Brazil:

Film of the Week

In a World . . ., Friday, Sky Movies Premiere

The very talented Lake Bell (Boston Legal, How to Make it in America) wrote, directed and starred in this 2013 indie comedy. She plays aimless vocal coach Carol Solomon, who has always been overshadowed by her blustering father, a film trailer voiceover artist. But when Carol inadvertently enters the race to voice the trailer for an upcoming blockbuster, they become unexpected rivals for the industry’s hottest job. Oh, and look out for a cracking cameo from former Desperate Housewives’ star Eva Longoria.

Here's the trailer: