John Byrne’s TV choices for the week ahead (Dates covered: Saturday Feb 27-Friday Mar 4)

It's another busy week with House of Cards, Zig and Zag, Alan Carr and Bear Grylls all back on the box. Plus there's the ultimate red carpet event in the shape of The 88th Academy Awards.

Pick of the week

House of Cards, from Friday, Netflix

It's season four of the award-winning drama about a Machiavellian politician and his equally manipulative wife, played by Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. And, as usual, all 13 episodes will be available to view simultaneously from breakfast time on Friday.

When viewers last saw President Frank Underwood (Spacey), he was left to deal with his fractured marriage to Claire (Wright) and an increasingly fractured electorate. This season finds him trying to put the pieces back together in preparation for the upcoming presidential race.

This season also sees a number of important figures entering the Underwoods’ world, starting with acclaimed actress Ellen Burstyn as Claire's mother, Elizabeth Hale.

Star(s) of the week

The 88th Academy Awards, Sunday, Sky Movies Oscars

The ultimate glitzy event of the year, the Academy Awards are this year sprinkled with emerald gold dust as the Irish have an unprecedented amount of nominations. Fingers crossed!

It’s the biggest night of the year for the film world, and the event will be shown live on Sky Movies Oscars from 1.30am on Monday morning/Sunday night, with highlights on Monday at 9.00pm on RTÉ2.

This year’s surprise frontrunner for Best Picture is financial drama The Big Short, but it faces stiff competition from the likes of Spotlight and brutal revenge tale The Revenant. Irish hopes lie with the likes of Room, Brooklyn, Steve Jobs and Stutterer.

In addition to live coverage of the star-studded awards ceremony, Alex Zane and Zoe Ball will present a special preview show featuring the glamorous goings-on from the red carpet, beginning at 11.30pm.

Starting this week

Zig and Zag, Tuesday, RTÉjr

Everyone’s favourite aliens are returning for an exciting new animation series.

 All the family can watch the first five episodes exclusively on the RTÉjr App from 10am on Tuesday. The show will also be broadcast each weekday at 5.45pm on the RTÉjr television channel beginning with a double bill on the same day. 

 The animation introduces a new generation of Irish kids to the comedy of these loveable aliens while parents (and grandparents!) can enjoy the nostalgia of having Zig and Zag back on the box.

 The series sees alien brothers Zig and Zag crash land in humdrum suburbia and set up home. UK rock band Kaiser Chiefs feature, while singer Ricky Wilson and bassist Simon Rix recorded the show's theme tune.

Alan Carr: Chatty Man, Thursday, Channel 4

Opening night guests include Matthew Perry, who's starring in London's West End, and broadcaster Philip Schofield, as well as music from The 1975.

Fire in the Blood: The Revivalists, Monday, RTÉ One

This new series looks at the Celtic Revival of the late 19th and early 20th Century, which saw renewed interest in Irish culture, language, art and sport.

Dogs Might Fly, Sunday, Sky 1

Jamie Theakston presents a six-part series in which 12 unwanted and abandoned dogs from across the UK attempt to become the first to fly a plane. You couldn't make it up.

Home of the Year, Thursday, RTÉ One

Over eight weeks, 21 homes compete for the title, beginning with a transformed Victorian house in Dublin and a converted barn in Wexford.

Murder: The Third Voice, Thursday, BBC Two

When Rafe Carey’s body is washed up by the River Tweed, it looks like he’s drowned in a tragic accident on a day of extreme weather. But when detective Corinne Evans investigates, she finds the cause of Rafe’s death isn't drowning as he’s been stabbed through the heart.

Stag, Saturday, BBC Two

A group of obnoxious friends struggle to survive the Stag weekend from hell in the Scottish Highlands, in this brand new, three-part, dark comic thriller.

Bear Grylls: Mission Survive, Thursday, UTV Ireland

Seven celebrities battle through the wilds of Southern Africa on an uncompromising 12-day survival expedition. Oh boy!

Trapped, Sunday, RTÉ2

The latest subtitled drama comes from Iceland, and concerns the police investigation of a mutilated body that's pulled out of a fjord in an Icelandic coastal town.

Raised by Wolves, Wednesday, Channel 4

Remorseless fag-smoking parenting machine Della Garry (Rebekah Staton) and her six children continue their social experiment of home-schooling as Caitlin Moran's surprisingly dull comedy returns.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Thursday, Sky 1

From the makers of Supergirl, Arrow and The Flash comes a superhero team-up from DC Comics. Having seen a frightening future, time-travelling rogue Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill, Dr Who) decides to pull together a disparate group of heroes and villains to save the world from the unstoppable threat posed by immortal tyrant Vandal Savage (Casper Crump).

Comedy Playhouse: Broken Biscuits, Friday, BBC One

This comedy follows five disparate groups of people, friends, partners and parents, observing their everyday lives as their little stories unfold.

Characters include Milton (Timothy West) and Pearl (Stephanie Cole), an older couple who have an obsession with their son's wife and their smoke alarm, while Brenda (Alison Steadman) and Roger (Alun Armstrong) take great pride in running their B&B.

Ending this Week

Shetland, Friday, BBC One

As this Caledonian cop drama reaches a conclusion, Perez and his team discover that the person responsible for the deaths of Robbie Morton and Michael Thompson is closer to home than they had thought.

Masters of Sex, Thursday, RTÉ2

With their publisher eager to move forward with their new book and the police investigating Bill's recent indiscretions, Bill and Virginia are betrayed by someone close to them.

Supershoppers, Monday, Channel 4

Andi Osho and Anna Richardson investigate phoney brands, fake beauty sprays and find out what chocolate bars are healthier than others.

Drama of the week

Grantchester, Wednesday, UTV Ireland

James Norton reprises his role as Sidney Chambers, the charismatic, charming, crime-fighting clergyman, and Robson Green returns as his partner in crime, Detective Inspector Geordie Keating, in the second season of the 1950s-set drama.

Comedy of the week

Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, Thursday, BBC Two

Filmed in front of a live audience at the Mildmay Club in Stoke Newington, this fourth run is full of brand-new stand-up material. Each episode covers a different topic, including patriotism, wealth, islamophobia, the migrant crisis, death, and childhood memories.

Script Editor Chris Morris returns to series four as the 'hostile interrogator'. Chris quizzes Stewart about his approach to stand-up comedy and his attitudes toward his audience and the comedy industry.

Documentary of the week

The Cruise, Thursday, UTV Ireland

With unique access to one of the world’s largest luxury cruise ships, this new series follows life on board for the crew of 1400 who live and work on the Regal Princess for up to nine months at a time.

In the opening episode, as the 11-day voyage around the Baltic from Copenhagen to St Petersburg begins, the guests are vying for the most travelled passenger award. Some cruise ship super fans have spent 7-8 years of their lives on board. Now there's a scary thought . . .

On Demand

DC Fancast, Thursday, Sky on Demand

Here's one for comic book geeks such as myself. In a new development, Sky are launching a companion show for all things DC, exclusively on demand through Catch Up TV and Sky Go.

Presenting duo Rick Edwards and Bec Hill are joined by a live studio audience of fans who discuss the latest episodes of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Plus, there’ll be a veritable rogues’ gallery of special features, exclusive looks behind the scenes and sneak peeks at upcoming episodes.

I may never leave the house again.

Film of the Week

Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Friday, Sky Arts

This is an inspirational and heart-warming 2008 rockumentary about the Canadian heavy metal band Anvil, a group who refused to give up.

The film begins by listing the headlining acts of the Super Rock festival held in Japan in 1984: Scorpions, Whitesnake, and Bon Jovi, all of whom have gone on to sell millions of records. And then there's Anvil.

Despite their ambition, the Canadian band failed to find success. Instead, singer and guitarist Steve 'Lips' Kudlow drives trucks for Children's Choice Catering, delivering food to schools and institutions, while drummer Robb Reiner works in construction.

But both would rather be playing on stage at the local sports bar to their small but dedicated group of fans, which is just what they do to celebrate Steve's 50th birthday.

John Byrne