I’ve had a bit of a break from things during the past few weeks, and I’ve picked a fine time to rejoin the fray – it’s Broadchurch finale time. If this second series has polarised people, we also all know that final episodes are subjective affairs where writers are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. It’s very difficult to please all of the people all of the time, and I wasn’t expecting Broadchurch – which I’ve had my problems with throughout this second series – to hit everything out of the park. That would be an unfair expectation. All I wanted was a rollercoaster ride that finally tied up the fate of Joe Miller and resolved the Sandbrook murders. It’s too not much to ask, it?
In the midst of the Oscars, the Broadchurch finale and everything else happening in TV land, our favourite crime drama from last year, True Detective, has been quietly going about its business and merrily shooting scenes for its second series. Which, of course, was in stark contrast to late last year when the rumour mill was hurtling around at the speed of sound. You couldn’t move for speculation over which actor would be joining the critically acclaimed series from Nic Pizzolatto (we were also to blame for that in some small way). When the cast and basic plot outline was announced it was full steam ahead and now we can actually see what they’ve been up to, thanks to the medium of photography.
Well, this news came out of the blue. One of the most revered British actors in the comedy arena – Rowan Atkinson – is to don the heavy coat and pipe of Georges Simenon’s classic fictional detective, Jules Maigret, in two new ITV adaptations. First seen in print in 1931, Maigret went onto to feature in 75 Simenon-penned novels. ITV, without a Poirot and a Foyle, and Agatha Christie doing a runner back to the BBC, has re-invested in Maigret, a series we last saw on the channel in 1992, starring the equally incomparable Michael Gambon.
In its final season, The Mentalist toys with some new story formats. This week Jane’s on the outside, as Lisbon goes undercover. How will the loved-up couple cope with prison bars between them? You could be forgiven for thinking you’ve switched to the wrong channel, as this episode starts with that most un-Mentalist of standards, a car chase. A young couple sticks up a charity ball to steal a luxury car; he gets away, but she’s busted. In order to track down her boyfriend, who’s wanted in several states and has some overseas contacts the CIA is interested in, Lisbon gets to share a prison cell with the defiant girl.
Deep in the heartland of St Marie, a group of flabby office rats is taking on a team-building exercise. After a day of running, climbing and swimming in the National Park, it’s time for a spot of murdering, as the boss-lady of the travel agency is found shot in her tent. We’re used to this formula of a group of newcomers somehow finding themselves in an isolated situation, either all having an alibi, or, in this case, none having an alibi. There does seem to be a lack of motive, though no shortage of suggestive evidence.
Last week I went to ITV to watch a screening of Arthur & George – the network’s three-part adaptation of Julian Barnes’s best-selling novel. I haven’t read the book, but I was aware of the premise – in the wake of his wife’s death, Sherlock creator Arthur Conan Doyle takes on a case of his own, that of a young Indian/British man who’s out to clear his name after he was, he contends, wrongfully imprisoned for a spate of horse slayings in an Edwardian-era Black Country village. With obvious Sherlock connections, it’s sure to be a primetime hit. But what was it like?
Right, we back on track and safely aligned to the correct transmission dates and the like. And with this week’s episode we have to ask ourselves: Are drugs bad for you? Well, they certainly are in this case, one in which Sherlock tackles a talking car alarm and the deadly threat of boredom. Sherlock has been trying to avoid going to sobriety meetings; he explains to Watson that it’s the sheer monotony of their repetitive nature that drives him away. He’s afraid that using drugs again will merely be a response to boredom. He’s happy when he has a problem to solve, but the question of sobriety requires constant attention for very little reward, like a leaking tap.