Israeli crime drama for Walter Presents

You can always rely on Walter Presents – that little corner of Channel 4’s All4 VOD service – to scour the globe for some of the stuff we wouldn’t normally get to watch.

The brand has now gone to Israel for its next series. Mama’s Angel is a 10-part series that starts in a week or so’s time.

On the eve of Yom Kippur Yael, a prison therapist is assigned a new inmate: a man imprisoned for murdering his own children. The following morning, in a twisted turn of events, Yael’s seven-year-old son, Kfir, is found dead beside an Air Force heroes monument – a memorial which had been vandalised the very same night by an 18-year-old Ethiopian artist, who becomes the prime suspect in the case.

Mama’s Angel follows the ensuing police investigation and the shattered lives of this small, close-knit community; from the grieving parents to the CSI expert who believes they’ve got the wrong man. The series was nominated for ‘Best Drama Series’ at the Israeli Television Academy Award.

Mama’s Angel: Sunday 12th August, 10pm, Channel 4 (then all episodes on All4)


First trailer for series two of Mr Mercedes released

Our Andy quite enjoyed series one of the Stephen King adaptation, Mr Mercedes (read his review here).

We know that it’s back on our screen at the end of August, the show’s home US network, AT&T Audience Network, has released series two’s first trailer.

Deadline describes the plot:

The series picks up a year after Brady Hartsfield’s (Harry Treadaway) thwarted attempt to perpetrate a second mass murder in the community of Bridgton, Ohio. Since the incident, Hartsfield has been hospitalized in a vegetative state. Retired Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) has done his best to move on from his Brady obsession, teaming up with Holly Gibney (Justine Lupe) to open Finders Keepers, a private investigative agency. But when unexplainable occurrences begin to affect hospital staff members attending to Brady, Hodges is haunted by the feeling that Brady is somehow responsible.

It’s due to touch down in the UK on 23rd August on StarzPlay (via Amazon Prime Video).


REVIEW: Sharp Objects (S1 E4/8)

“My momma said all of history was written by men.”

Spiders. Big, great, whopping spiders were the visual motif du jour in episode four of this superb and dark-as-night HBO series adapted from Gillian Flynn’s novel.

So far we have Smalltownsville, Missouri trying to come to terms with the sickening murders of two dead teenage girls and in that same town a mother-and-daughter relationship so toxic it would strip paint from 100 paces. After last week’s terrifyingly, dizzyingly vivid self-harming flashbacks, the visual pyrotechnics were played down a little this week, and Camille Preaker (Amy Adams, more on her later) continued her investigation into the murders of Ann Nash and Natalie Keene for her newspaper back in St Louis. To do this, she realised she must work in tandem with Detective Richard ‘Kansas City’ Willis, who had been doing his best to flirt with her in previous instalments but to no avail.

Camille decided to play his game. She would take him out into the forest and show him some of Wind Gap’s most notorious crime scenes in return for some on-the-record information about the cases. As they were trudging around in the sticky heat, Camille naturally produced a bottle of the strong stuff. Spiders roamed. Memories flickered. There, a spot where two gay teenage women were murdered, or perhaps committed suicide (the daughter of one victim, Camille explained, was so keen to dispel any notion that she had followed in her mother’s footsteps she slept with half the male population in the town). A spider crawled over a branch. And there, the ‘end zone’, a spot where the local football team used to have their wicked way with ninth-grade cheerleaders. Was Camille one of those cheerleaders, Kansas City asked. Camille’s reply? “Every woman here gets a nasty label if they don’t conform to the rules of engagement.” And over there, the creepy hunting shack we’d seen before in Camille’s memories and dreams. A place of awfulness. Perhaps something happened to Camille herself in there, Kansas City speculated.

This tour of the macabre seemed to bring the two closer together, and an element of trust formed beneath the forest canopy. When Kansas City made another flirty advance, this time Camille sidled over. He went to kiss her but she said no, took his hand and guided it down into the front of her trousers. As they engaged in their intimate act, this triggered Camille – she came, but she also saw blood and nightmares. It was one of the more incredible, incendiary and raw sex scenes you’ll see in any drama: it was an act of fear and control on Camille’s part; as a slightly bemused Kansas City looked on as she clung to him, you realised that Camille was so shamed by her own body – her own scratched and scarred body – she could not show it to him, give herself fully over. There will always be a part of Camille that has to stay secret.

As for Adora and Amma, the former was being her normal, witheringly manipulative self. Bill Vickery had called around one sultry evening and Adora had shooed her cuckolded husband away to fix drinks. Together they engaged in a game of flirtatious cat-and-mouse, which suggested there may have been more to their friendship in the past. Alan looked on through a crack in the door. When Vickery asked Adora to cancel the town’s annual historical celebrations, she turned on him and told him to hush now and that she could get him replaced as chief any time she wanted. He should always remember that. Later, when Alan challenged Adora about her lack of compassion for him, she turned it around on him. Why are you trying to hurt me? she whimpered.

Adora, the arch-manipulator.

Earlier, Camille had walked in after a kiss with Kansas City on the front lawn. Adora chided her once again, told her that she brought nothing but discord into the house. And she told her daughter – no, whispered into her ear – that she smelled ripe.

Stung by this wilful clawing, Camille took off to her favourite place: the bar. Prime suspect John Keene walked in. He ordered a drink. The barman had a spider tattoo on his arm. They got talking, John opening up about his sister Natalie and her friendship with the first victim, Ann Nash… and their shared friendship with Amma.

Up until that moment, this episode was an excellent, considered comedown from the horrors of episode three. Yes, there were still horrors and an atmosphere so tense inside the Crellin household you could cut it with a knife and spread it on a slice of toast, but in this hour there were character backstories that were slowly but surely being teased out. And in these character studies, we got to see just how good Amy Adams really is – her range is just incredible. One minute she was hard and cynical, the next vulnerable and shamed, the next sexy and flirtatious, and the next horrified and in a shallow-breathed panic. Her performance has been immense, powerful and human to the core.

And now that there’s a link between Amma and the victims, you get the sense that Adams will have plenty more opportunities to display her range.

This episode solidified the notion that this is very much a story about women, about the harm they can do to themselves and each other. At the start of this review, I used a quote that Amma spoke in a moment of Lolita-style flirting with taciturn Kirk Lacey at the end of Calhoun Day rehearsals because that’s what has always been a given: that men have always written the history. Not in Sharp Objects – it’s the women of Wind Gap who are writing their own.

Paul Hirons






Netflix orders Ibiza-set crime drama from creators of The Crown

We can hardly keep up with them.

We hear that Netflix has ordered a new crime drama series from the creators of The Crown, set on the Balearic holiday island of Ibiza called White Lines.

Deadline reports:

Written by La Casa de Papel creator Alex Pina, who will serve as showrunner, in White Lines, when the body of a legendary Manchester DJ is discovered twenty years after his mysterious disappearance from Ibiza, his sister returns to the beautiful Spanish island to find out what happened. Her investigation will lead her through a thrilling world of dance music, super yachts, lies and cover-ups, forcing her to confront the darker sides of her own character in a place where people live life on the edge.

Death in paradise indeed. More news etc.

Netflix releases first trailer for Tony Danza’s Good Cop

And they just keep on coming from Netflix.

The next crime drama from the streaming juggernaut is The Good Cop, starring Tony Danza and looking, well, here’s a trailer…

Deadline reports:

In the series, Danza plays Tony Sr. (Big Tony), a former NYPD officer who lives with his son, Tony Jr. (TJ), Josh Groban, a brilliant, straight-laced NYPD detective who makes a point of always following the rules while solving Brooklyn’s toughest cases.

This “odd couple” become unofficial partners, as Tony Sr. offers his overly-cautious son blunt, street-wise advice. Also joining the cast are Monica Barbaro, Isiah Whitlock, Jr and Bill Kottkamp.

It’s due to start on 21st September, but it’s safe to say we’ll be giving this a wide berth…

REVIEW: Unforgotten (S3 E3/6)

Last week’s delicious little cliffhanger – the tense phone call between TV quiz host James Hollis (Kevin McNally) and his estranged son Elliot (Tom Rhys Harris) – has probably quelled the left-field gut theory that we had about who murdered Hayley Reid.

The Hollises, père et fils, may be complicit in some guilty secret concerning Hayley, but as this emerges so early in the narrative, it seems unlikely that James or Elliot actually murdered her. It could also knock on the head the possibility that Elliot, then a child of about 10 or 11, killed the free-spirited Hayley by accident. (Incidentally, does anyone else think Eliot in his make-up looks unnervingly like a young Maxine Peake?)

This, anyway is in keeping with the theme of ‘everyman’ perpetrators in previous Unforgottens – none of them are malign or criminal characters, just ordinary people who have made a fatal mistake.

In his police interview, Hollis Senior ties the four main suspects together for us for the first time – they were school friends, although his recollection that on Millennium Eve they all went happily to bed after the bongs of Big Ben doesn’t ring true – and he seems very keen that the other amigos share his recollections.

Cassie (Nicola Walker) tries Columbo’s “one more thing” trademark move outside the interview room, and manages to tie the friends to Finchley – they all grew up a stone’s throw from Hayley’s makeshift grave on the M1.

In Bristol, troubled artist Chris Lowe (James Fleet) is no longer left to his own devices; he and girlfriend Jamilla (Sasha Behar) have found a house to rent, which strikes us as putting the cart before the horse – she is clearly still in the dark about his past and the extent of his bipolar disorder. We know love comes quickly but, after all, it was only yesterday when he was mad. (That’s this week’s quota of Pet Shop Boys allusions). He explains to Jamilla the sad circumstances of his declining mental health and the failure of his marriage, but was any of it related to the events in Middenham?

Hunky ex-detective John Bentley (Alistair MacKenzie) is staying in London to help Cassie’s crew with points in the case that he had wanted to follow up. He wants to probe whether Hayley’s death had any connection with a church break-in that night. Is Cassie developing a crush on him? We wouldn’t blame her. But we do wonder why he isn’t still on his local force.

Sunny (Sanjeev Bhaskar), basking in his fledgling love affair with Sal (Michelle Bonnard) notices the spark and plays cupid – inviting Bentley to team-bonding sessions at the pub. “You’re welcome,” he tells Cassie, his face suffused with a soppy grin.

Dr Tim Finch (Alex Jennings) might now be off the hook with the General Medical Council, but complainant Alison Pinion (Gabrielle Glaister) berates the tribunal, showing no signs of being fobbed off easily. “He’s got another side to him,” she rails.

Peter Carr (Neil Morrissey) looks ready to top himself in his car in the middle of a field over the three-grand ISA he stole. Salvation beckons with Hollis’s call to alert him to the police investigation and the need to get the quartet’s accounts to tally. Carr must have leverage over the others to secure the cash, because a bank transfer is swiftly made in time to bail him out with his snide boss Mark Harper (Finlay Robertson), who is close to giving him the boot.

At least we clear up references to Carr’s misspent youth in Hong Kong pre-1997, when the territory reverted to Chinese rule. ‘Filth’ – ‘Failed In London, Try Hong Kong’ – was the acronym applied to a lot of British bankers, businessmen and media types who, unable to hack it here, went to the Asian ‘wild west’.

Meanwhile, DC Jake Collier (Lewis Reeves) closes in on the initial suspect, Hayley’s boyfriend Adrian Mullery (Gerald Kyd), now a teacher in London. He is totally uncooperative, having been suspended by his head teacher, and furiously accuses the officers in charge of the original case of misconduct.

The comfortable collusion between the four friends starts to break down when Hollis’s ex-wife Mel (Sara Stewart) describes Chris Lowe’s emotional meltdown, and subsequent booze and coke-fuelled ructions between the men, saying they left the holiday cottage separately but returned before midnight.

Just when the case against the key suspects looks like being derailed by the timelines, DC Fran Langley (Caroline Main) realises that Hayley’s boss at the pub has misremembered her as the barmaid in Madonna fancy dress – and that Hayley had left work at just after 10pm. Just when our suspects are skulking drunkenly around the village.

As Hayley’s twin sister Jessica (Bronagh Waugh) predicted, an online tumult of hostility against the family has been sparked off by the reopened investigation. From her tower-block eyrie, blogger Sandra Rayworth (Tori Allen-Martin) is the stirrer-in-chief, surveying her malevolent website with inexplicable glee. What axe is she grinding?

Sunny and Cassie have pinpointed the suspects’ life crises of divorce, estrangement from children and emotional unravelling to a period within 18 months of Hayley’s death. Lowe’s fall was particularly swift – from CEO of a top advertising agency, a ritzy Notting Hill house and a Maserati to a failed marriage, a nervous breakdown and homelessness.

But Carr looks the most likely to break ranks – why does he admit to meeting Hayley in the house, while claiming he saw nothing of the murder case in the papers? What? Not even in the overseas edition of the Daily Mail?

Back home, Cassie’s problems intensify; she finally can no longer disregard signs we have picked up over the past two series that her dad Martin (Peter Egan) is suffering from incipient dementia. His mild cognitive impairment has so far cost one burnt saucepan – as far as we know – which drives her to an internet search on the illness. Worse, he has hooked up with the predatory and passive-aggressive Jenny (Janet Dibley), whose every remark on their first meeting at the dinner table is a veiled criticism of Cassie.

As Cassie’s home life becomes more fractious, Sunny is having a purple patch; he even manages a fleeting encounter with ex-wife Usha (Shobu Kapoor) at home with unaccustomed equanimity. It’s the first time we’ve met her, and it is evident that their children are hoping for a rapprochement.

Unforgotten’s director Andy Wilson has a masterly eye for the exterior colour palette; pathetic fallacy comes into play with the weather. The generally sunlit exteriors of the first two episodes have given way to leaden, louring skies, intimating the weight of guilt on our quartet. A clearer picture is now emerging of the inextricable dynamic between the suspects.

Deborah Shrewsbury



The 10 Best Crime Dramas This Week (Monday 30th July – 5th August)

Here we go, then. Another week in crime drama land, with the big guns still going strong – Sharp Objects, Unforgotten, Picnic… and Dicte all continue. There is one, brand-new series starting this week: BBC Four’s next Saturday-night crime drama from overseas is series two of Cardinal (subtitled Black Fly Season). Enjoy!

S1 E4/8
Camille agrees to take Richard on a tour of some of Wind Gap’s crime scenes. Elsewhere, Chief Vickery becomes concerned about an annual event.
Monday 30th July, 9pm, Sky Atlantic

S3 E4/6
It becomes clear to the detectives that the four men have conspired to come up with a false account of what took place the night Hayley disappeared. Jake is assigned to track down Tim Finch’s ex-wife to hear her version of events – and uncovers disturbing information about Chris Lowe’s past. On a personal front, Sunny is offered the opportunity to rekindle his past marriage, and Cassie worries about her father’s failing memory.
Sunday 5th August, 9pm, ITV

3 Picnic At Hanging Rock *NEW UK PREMIERE EPISODE*
S1 E4/6
A series of flashbacks tell the story of the missing girls in the months leading up to the picnic. Meanwhile, Hester struggles to contain mounting hysteria in the school, as students are withdrawn from the college by worried parents. She takes the remaining girls to church as a display of normality, but leaves the young orphan Sara behind, as punishment for ongoing defiance.
Wednesday 1st August, 9pm, BBC Two

4 Dicte – Crime Reporter *NEW UK PREMIERE EPISODE*
S3 E4/5
Anne, Torsten and Rose take Dicte to the funfair. A robbery at the venue leads the disillusioned and miserable crime reporter to suspect it may be tied to somebody with huge gambling debts. In the newsroom, Steffen struggles to re-establish working relations between Dicte and Bo. Elsewhere, the thought of becoming a mother occupies Rose’s mind constantly, while in Geneva Anne works round the clock at her new job, putting her life as a wife and mother on hold. 
Friday 3rd August, 9pm, More4

5 Cardinal: Black Fly Season *NEW UK PREMIERE SERIES*
S2 E1&2/6
Delorme and Cardinal dive into a mysterious new case, when a woman appears at a roadside bar with a bullet in her head and no memory of who she is.
Saturday 4th August, 9pm, BBC Four

6 The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco *NEW UK PREMIERE SERIES*
S3 E2/4
It becomes clear that San Francisco is in the grip of a killer with a dark and complex agenda now menacing Iris’s own neighbourhood. As the four unlikely allies struggled to be able to work together, they not only expose a twisted operation, but also forge powerful and lasting bonds. 
Wednesday 1st August, 9pm, ITV

S6 E11/21
Holmes engages with an old enemy to protect his father, and together with Watson he searches for the killer of a lawyer who was reviewing a tobacco company’s finances.
Monday 30th July, 9pm, Sky Living

8 Keeping Faith *REPEAT*
S1 E4/8
The troubled lawyer fears for her family’s safety so she takes shelter in a hotel and meets up with Steve, who tells her that Evan might have had links with a notorious family of drug dealers. As Faith looks into the lead, she is drawn deeper into Abercorran’s sinister underbelly. Meanwhile, Bethan begins to feel the aftershocks of Marion’s revelation, Dr Alpay proposes a deal to Cerys and a disturbing discovery in the woods by Terry results in Williams building a case against Faith.
Thursday 2nd August, 9pm, BBC One

9 Lewis *REPEAT*
S8 E2/6
Most people, when they retire, look forward to having more time for themselves to enjoy all the things they never had time to do when they were working. But not Robbie Lewis. When this series returned for a new run last week, he was a man lost and, despite his attempts to build a wooden canoe, was feeling rudderless. So, he jumped at the chance to return to the police force, albeit in a temporary capacity. He and Hathaway are working together again, but with the younger man in charge of a case involving the murder of a neurosurgeon. Sadly, when this episode gets underway, Hathaway’s theory about whodunit falls apart – his prime suspect is found murdered. But is he a big enough man to accept some advice from his former mentor?
Monday 30th July, 9pm, ITV

S1 E3/10
Daniel and Dass head north to investigate the discovery of a human arm in a crocodile’s stomach.
Tuesday 31st July, 9pm, Alibi


Amazon names transmission date for Julia Roberts psych drama, Homecoming

We live in an increasingly convergent, multi-media age, where each one bleeds into another: novels are adapted for television; television inspires film; podcasts feature true-crime cases; and now television adapts podcasts. Yes, we’re now getting TV dramas based on chart-topping podcasts.

The podcast in question here is Homecoming, an ‘immersive’ fiction story that originally starred Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, David Schwimmer, Amy Sedaris, and David Cross (you can listen to it here) and was billed as a psychological thriller.

Amazon Prime Video has adapted the pod into a series that stars Julia Roberts in her first ever lead role for television.

Here’s a teaser:

So what’s the story? Here’s Deadline to fill you in:

Roberts plays Heidi Bergman, a caseworker at the Homecoming Transitional Support Center, a Geist Group facility helping soldiers transition back to civilian life. Walter Cruz (Stephan James) is one of these soldiers, eager to begin the next phase of his life. Overseeing Heidi and the facility is Colin Belfast (Bobby Cannavale), an ambitious company man whose manic demands point to questionable motives.

Four years later, Heidi has started a new life, living with her mother (Sissy Spacek) and working as a small-town waitress, when a Department of Defense auditor (Shea Whigham) comes to her with questions about why she left the facility. Heidi begins to realize there’s a whole other story behind the story she’s been telling herself.

Homecoming: Friday 2nd November, Amazon Prime Video

Netflix renews Altered Carbon for series two, hires new lead

Last week, Our Chris reviewed sci-fi noir, Altered Carbon, on Netflix (see his review here). The good-looking series, based on the novel trilogy by Richard K. Morgan, did well for the streaming service and provided plenty of Bladerunner-type thrills.

Now we hear that it has been renewed for a second, eight-episode series. Not only that, but Anthony Mackie will take the lead role from Joel Kinnerman, playing Takeshi Kovacs. You may be thinking, why? Morgan’s cyberpunk novels are set centuries in the future, in a world where humanity has overcome mortality via a technology that allows human consciousness to be transferred from one body. So sort of like Doctor Who.

The Verge reports:

Netflix hasn’t indicated what path season 2 will take, but the recasting suggests that the show might tackle the next book in the trilogy, Broken Angels, to some extent. That novel is set three decades later, with Kovacs as a member of a mercenary outfit fighting in a corporate war on a planet called Sanction IV. He’s recruited to secure a buried alien artifact, a plot point teased in the first season.

If that’s the case, viewers should expect some big changes for the show. Where Altered Carbon was a neo-noir cyberpunk story that focused on the consequences of wealth inequality, Broken Angels is a very different book that moves toward military science fiction and space opera.

We might have to take a pass on the next series if it goes strictly sci-fi.