John Byrne’s TV choices for the week ahead (Dates covered: Sat Mar 29 – Fri Apr 4)
This week’s arrivals include an Australian murder-mystery, a TV adaptation of About a Boy, and a new teen drama about an Earth girl and alien boy. Meanwhile, it’s goodbye to Girls, The Widower and The Musketeers.
Pick of the week
Secrets & Lies, Sunday, RTÉ Two
Not to be confused with the Mike Leigh-directed movie of the same name, this six-part Australian TV drama was given a straight-to-series order when an American adaptation was proposed to US network ABC – which is some indication of what to expect. Ben Gundelach (Martin Henderson) is a run-of-the-mill family man living in Brisbane, a housepainter by trade, who discovers the body of a murdered four-year-old boy. The boy, Thom Murnane (Hunter Stratton Boland), lived in Ben’s street with his mother Jess (Adrienne Pickering). Now everyone in the street is a suspect and Ben is shocked that he is at the top of the list. With the cops watching his every move, Ben’s life begins to unravel and people start believing that he’s the murderer. Shades of Broadchurch, maybe – but anyone who saw the excellent Aussie crim drama Underbelly will certainly be giving this six-parter a look-see.
Star of the week
About a Boy, Monday, Sky 1
She’s had an interesting career, that Minnie Driver. Bouncing between acting and singing she first drew mainstream attention when she played the lead in the 1995 film adaptation of the late Maeve Binchy’s Circle of Friends. Since then she’s bounced around between movies, TV and singing, and although it had zero profile over here, she was outstanding in US TV comedy-drama The Riches, and got nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe as Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2007 and 2008, respectively. In this TV adaptation of Nick Hornby's About a Boy (also a hit film starring Hugh Grant) she plays New Age mum Fiona, who moves in with her precocious young son Marcus (Benjamin Stockham) beside fun-loving bachelor Will (David Walton), and an unlikely relationship develops between the two ‘boys’.
Starting this week
Endeavour, Sunday, UTV
Shaun Evans returns in the lead role as young Morse, with Roger Allam as his senior Detective Inspector Fred Thursday, in the second season of the hit crime drama and prequel to the much-loved Inspector Morse. The story’s now up to May 1966 and DC Endeavour Morse returns to Oxford City Police after a four-month absence. Reunited with DI Thursday, but still reeling from the final moments of season one, the young detective's involuntary furlough has left him wounded – and in mind more than body. Then, during a parade, a John Doe plummets to his death from a council building, and the initial investigation indicates this is anything but a routine suicide case.
Also starting this week:
New Worlds, Tuesday, Channel 4
Jamie Dornan stars as a kidnapper and rebel in this transatlantic historical drama set in the 1680s.
Other Voices, Sunday, RTÉ Two
Aidan Gillen is host once again for this musical show that kicks-off with The Gloaming, East India Youth, Hozier and Rose Carney.
Monkey Planet, Wednesday, BBC One
Insect expert George McGavin switches species for this three-part look at Primates.
Ending this week
The Widower, Monday, UTV
It’s the third and final part of this factual drama based on the crimes of convicted murderer, Malcolm Webster, played by Reece Shearsmith. As the story resumes, Malcolm and Simone’s (The Good Wife's Archie Panjabi) relationship is moving at a rapid pace. They are engaged and undergoing IVF treatment for a child. Webster is now treasurer of an angling club, but is secretly embezzling funds. When this is reported to DS Charlie Henry (John Hannah), he raids their home and finds stolen laptops and an unlicensed weapon. Webster is pulled in for questioning, but Henry’s frustrations grow when legal technicalities result in Webster being cleared of the embezzlement, theft and firearms offences. He then discovers that Webster and Simone are planning a transatlantic trip, and fears this could lead to her death.
Here's Reece Shearsmith talking about playing Malcolm Webster:
Also ending this week:
The Musketeers, Sunday, BBC One
The latest retelling of the Alexander Dumas tale ends with an unexpected rift that threatens to tear the swordsmen apart.
Drama of the week
Star-Crossed, Friday, Sky 1
There’s recently been a glut of utterly disappointing US sci-fi dramas (Revolution, Defiance, The Tomorrow People), so here’s hoping the latest from the States is up to the task. When Emery Whitefall (Aimee Teegarden, coach Taylor’s daughter Julie on Friday Night Lights) was six-years-old, an alien spacecraft crash-landed in her small town. A fierce battle erupted as humans fought for control over the unknown Atrian race. During the conflict, six-year-old Atrian boy Roman found safety in Emery’s garden where she protected him from harm until the authorities tracked him down. Ten years later, they meet again when he and other Atrian teens join her high school.
Comedy of the week
Girls, Monday, Sky Atlantic
Three years in already? Despite the hype, Girls is getting better as it goes along and this run has been a right oul’ hoot and my Monday nights are going to feel a little hollow after this week. Anyway, the third season of Lena Dunham’s award-winning comedy concludes as Hannah’s boyfriend Adam’s Broadway debut arrives. This also coincides with Hannah receiving significant news that could drastically alter the direction of her life. Meanwhile, Shoshanna has some unexpected news of her own to deal with, and Marnie picks a bad time to open up to her. Plus, Jessa’s boss asks for a strange favour (which, if it follows Jessa's trajectory, will probably involve class-A substances).
Documentary of the week
A Sovereign People: the Story of the Irish Revolution, Thursday, RTÉ One
This documentary film explores the two decades that laid the stepping stones for the foundation of the Irish state and the claim to sovereignty. It’s a story of history, politics, culture and society. The period that followed the death of Charles Stuart Parnell was the most pivotal decades in modern Irish history where intellectual, cultural, political and military activity reached a degree of intensity never before or since experienced on the island of Ireland. This documentary film - produced and directed by Seán Ó Mórdha - traces the historical and cultural significance of an era that led to the Easter Rising and the Irish Free State that emerged in 1922.
Film of the Week
Red Rock West, Friday, Sky Movies Select
This early-1990s movie is one of the last Nicolas Cage-starring roles that’s worth catching. And there’s a lot more to enjoy in this latter-day film noir about case of mistaken identity, as a proverbial web of intrigue involves a femme fatale played by Lara Flynn Boyle and Dennis Hooper does what Dennis Hopper does best - playing the proverbial nut-job.