TV Listings | In the thick of Washington

It must be onerous to be a successful English-language TV writer who has to prove himself all over again … in another English-speaking country. But that’s America for you, and the pedigree of Armando Iannucci − the creator and writer of classic British sitcoms like The Thick of It, I’m Alan Partridge and The Day Today − will have cut little mustard stateside ahead of the screening of his new show Veep

“Mistaking vulgarity for comic edge and very thinly stretched punnery for wit, Veep is less a trenchant satire about contemporary politics than it is a relentlessly mean-spirited spectacle about crummy people,” noted Slant Magazine in a diatribe that would have been considered an endorsement in Iannucci’s home town of Glasgow. And it was in the minority as Veep, a sitcom that follows the travails of a recently elected female US vice-president, scored a reasonable 72 on Metacritic. Among its fans was the Washington Post – if anyone’s going to know, they are – who applauded the depiction of its home town as “the pinnacle of failure, addicted to a never-ending display of pandering and message manipulation”. Of course, having sitcom royalty Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld) in the lead role didn’t hurt, and most of the reviewers agreed that her performance was the show’s strongest card. 

The ace up the sleeve of Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap is its director, Ice-T, as he brings genuine expertise and contacts – he knows everybody – to produce the definitive doc on the craft of rap. He got the idea after being asked how he wrote songs like ‘6 In The Mornin’, which made him realise that nobody had ever asked him before.

Elsewhere, UK series The Hour (SVT1, Sun 22:00) is back for a second season, but with Suez over, has it got enough substance?; watch the Eurovision Preview Show (SVT1, Sun 21:00) if you want to bet against current favourites Denmark winning; Voices of a Generation (DRK, Sat 20:00) catches up with Diana Rigg; and Canadian series The Re-Inventors (DR3, Tue 20:45) challenges boffins to invent things that were ridiculed when proposed and never properly followed through, like a gun helmet (First World War) or a human-powered crane (Roman times).