TV listings | Backstories for the fans of light fantasy
Following on from the lukewarm reception for Grimm is another fairy tale-inspired adult drama series, Once Upon a Time. While Grimm was a cop series in which the crimes merely echoed the stories of the Brothers Grimm (plus a few others), in Once Upon a Time (Metacritic rating of 66), the stories are given as fact. Like in Lost, each episode focuses on a character’s back-story, explaining how they came to be cursed to live out their amnesic existence in a sleepy village where – we’re guessing here – Sleepy Beauty is always zonked out on valium and Prince Charming is a necrophiliac.
It’s a “smartly-crafted reward for fans of light fantasy, with the right mix of cleverness, action and romance”, applauded the Washington Post. “It glows with a near-theatrical shine, challenging viewers to think about TV drama as something other than boilerplate,” chimed Newsday. However, some reviewers were less confident. “To draw out the story by looping it through subplots and minidramas runs the risk of turning it into a fairy-tale soap opera,” observed the New York Daily News.
It wasn’t quite a soap, but the set of Roman Polanski’s Tess was dangerously close. Once Upon A Time: Tess (DRK, Tue 22:30) takes us back to 1978. Also going back in time is Modern classics: Wicked Game – Chris Isaak (DRK, Tue 20:30 or Thu 23:40), which offers a look at the story behind the tune that lit up David Lynch’s Wild at Heart and helped launch Helena Christensen in the US.
Elsewhere, Matt Smith makes his titular debut in Dr Who (DR HD, Sat 20:00 or Thu 23:00); catch the vapours of acclaimed hip-hop doc Follow the Leader (SV1, Tue 22:30); Gandhi: The Early Years (BBC World, Sat 18:10) focuses on the spiritual leader’s fight against racism in South Africa; there’s a chance to watch the entire series of DRK docs Chasing Churchill (Fri 16:10) and What the Industrial Revolution did for us (Sat 12:30); and there are quite a few film premieres, varying from Vinnie Jones’s terrible 7-10 Split (TV3 Puls, Sat 20:00) to the rather cool Chicago 10 (SV1, Tue 23:55), and from the pointless Management (SV1, Fri 22:00) to the absurd Bitch Slap (DR HD, Tue 21:35).