John Byrne’s TV choices for the week ahead (Dates covered: Sat Apr 12 – Fri Apr 18).
As ever, lots of new or returning shows, including another run of Britain’s Got Talent and the final season of Mad Men – while through the exit door go gems such as True Detective and Nurse Jackie.
Pick of the week
Mad Men, Wednesday, Sky Atlantic
Here goes with the seventh and final season of the critically adored and multi-award-winning 1960s’ period drama (that very few people bother to watch). The first seven of the 14 remaining episodes debut this year with the final seven due in 2015. Season six saw anti-hero Don Draper face some turbulent times, resulting in him being ordered to take an extended leave of absence from the agency after the meltdown in front of important clients. His personal life didn't roll well either with daughter Sally discovering his latest affair and actress wife Megan promised a move to LA that was then denied. There’s a tight lid on what’s going to happen this season, which is fine for fans of this always stylish, subtle and intelligent adult drama.
Star of the week
Des Bishop’s Breaking China, Thursday, RTÉ One
This new six-part series follows the adventures of writer and comedian Des Bishop as he moves to China for a year in order to learn Mandarin and eventually attempt to perform a one-man stand up comedy show for a Chinese audience. In the opening episode, Bishop moves in with a Beijing family, enrols in college and begins his quest to conquer the language. Things take a turn for the better when he teams up with Leo, someone he first met and befriended in Ireland over ten years ago.
Starting this week
Crisis, Thursday, TV3
Dermot Mulroney, Rachael Taylor and Gillian Anderson star in this hostage yarn about a set of students, including the US President’s son, get ambushed and kidnapped. A national crisis begins and Secret Service agent Marcus Finley (Lance Goss) finds himself at the centre of it on his first day on the job. FBI agent Susie Dunn (Taylor) also discovers that her niece, the daughter of CEO Meg Fitch (Anderson), is among the kidnapped children. It can't be any worse than Hostages, surely?
Also starting this week:
Later Live . . . with Jools Holland, Tuesday, BBC Two
The baron of boogie-woogie is back for a run of seven episodes, with the now regular live taster on Tuesdays and full-length show on Fridays.
Britain’s Got Talent, Saturday, UTV and TV3
The hugely popular talent show returns with Ant and Dec hosting over a judging panel that consists of Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams.
Amazing Greys, Saturday, UTV
Angela Rippon and Paddy McGuinness present an unpromising new game show that pits the young against the old. Oh dear.
The Guess List, Saturday, BBC One
Rob Brydon hosts a new entertainment series that promises big laughs and famous faces. Will Brydon's The Taste of Italy co-star Steve Coogan make an appearance?
Ending this week
True Detective, Saturday, Sky Atlantic
Yep, it's over already. Eight episodes in as Rust and Marty are on the brink of solving a case that came back to haunt them after 17 years. They know that the satanic sacrifice of Dora Lange was just the tip of a horrible iceberg. They know that cases involving missing children along the Louisiana coastline were covered up, with a conspiracy reaching into the police and probably further. But who is the killer? What is the identity of the scarred, green-eared figure that has stepped into Rust’s nightmares?
Also ending this week:
Nurse Jackie, Tuesday, RTÉ Two
In the season finale of the Emmy-winning comedy, Jackie is marking a year of sobriety, and a special celebration brings the arrival of a surprise guest. But not everyone is in a party mood.
Undeniable, Monday, UTV
Second and final part of this superb drama starring Peter Firth and Claire Goose sees Jane Phillips (Goose) still convinced that Andrew Rawlins (Firth) murdered her mother.
Here’s Peter Firth (with a full head of hair) in his early days as Scooper on 1970s' BBC kids' show The Double Deckers:
Shetland, Tuesday, BBC One
Time is running out for the murder investigation, as prime suspect Peter Latimer lies critically ill in hospital and Perez questions whether the murderer is still loose on Fair Isle.
Monkey Planet, Wednesday, BBC One
George McGavin travels to Thailand, where long-tailed macaques floss their teeth with human hair and use tools to open oysters.
Drama of the week
Intelligence, Thursday, Sky 1
Former Lost hunk Josh Holloway stars in this new sci-fi drama as Gabriel Vaughn, a US Cyber Command agent at the National Security Agency. Vaughn has been fitted with the world's first Direct Neural Interface, a microchip implanted in his brain that allows him to tap into databases, computers and electronic files to process information. Sounds like they nicked the Intersect idea from Chuck, a fun show that ran a few years ago. Good to see former CSI star Marg Helgenberger’s involved. Deffo worth a look, this.
Comedy of the week
The Trip to Italy, Friday, BBC Two
In this second episode of their culinary comedy, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon visit the Tuscan seaside resort of Viareggio, have lunch at the Trattoria Albana in the food-tastic Volterra area, and are effortlessly engaging throughout. Of course I hate them. Or maybe it’s mere envy? Roll on the summer holidays . . .
Documentary of the week
Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story, Thursday, RTÉ One
This should be fascinating as it depicts Frenchman Tomi Ungerer’s wild, lifelong adventure of testing societal boundaries through his use of subversive art and acerbic wit. This film combines traditional documentary storytelling with the original animation of over 70 years of art from the renegade children’s book author and illustrator who has called Ireland home for the last 38 years.
Film of the Week
The King of Comedy, Friday, Channel 4
It may be over 30 years old but Martin Scorsese’s Powell & Pressburger-esque black comedy is even more relevant today as a study of a man obsessed with fame and getting himself on the telly. Both Robert DeNiro as deluded comedian Rupert Pupkin and Jerry Lewis as nasty chat show host Jerry Langford are outstanding and Scorsese's in his prime. Unmissable.