TV Listings | Top of the Lake: tipped for the top

Pick Of The Week 
Top of the Lake
SVT1, Mon 21:45

Fans of Forbrydelsen (The Killing) – or even the US cult classic Twin Peaks – will notice a lot of similarities in Top of the Lake, a new BBC procedural crime drama co-created and co-directed by acclaimed filmmaker Jane Campion, who is once again teaming up Holly Hunter, the main star of her cinematic breakthrough, The Piano (1993).

In a nod to Scandinavian crime dramas, Top of the Lake is known just as much for its spellbinding cinematography as its stark portrayal of violence. Set in the fictitious town of Lake Top in New Zealand, the show’s plot is woven around Detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss), who has returned home from Australia to tend to her ailing mother. Griffin soon involves herself in the search for 12-year-old Tui Mitcham, a local girl who disappears under mysterious circumstances after the authorities discover she is pregnant.

Those story elements, combined with Lord of the Rings-esque landscapes, have critics worldwide raving about the new drama. The entertainment review site Metacritic gave the show an 86/100 ranking, praising the show’s haunting tones and intelligent plot twists.

Unlike the remake of Wallander (2012 series: SVT4, Fri 21:00; 2010 series: DR1, Sun 23:45) starring Kenneth Branagh, Top of the Lake was cast with mostly local actors. One notable outsider to the group is Moss, an American who rose to fame in the United States as the ambitious secretary-turned-executive Peggy Olson on Mad Men. Moss makes another star turn here in Top of the Lake, and as the investigation continues, she begins to fight her own demons. Perhaps the character’s lone flaw is a slightly clumsy attempt at a Kiwi accent – a minor hiccup that does little to spoil the show’s overall excellence.

Also New

The final-ever, hour-long episode of Life’s Too Short (SVT1, Sun 22:55), which was screened in the UK over Easter, includes Val Kilmer among the cameos; Tony Marchant’s three-part 2012 miniseries Public Enemies (SVT1, Mon 22:45) – starring Anna Friel and Daniel Mays – is brilliant but hard to watch, claims The Guardian; the first episode of new US sci-fi series Defiance (TV3+, Fri 21:00) might defy all logic and reason, but it might grow on you; Once Were Enemies (SVT1, Tue 22:00) revisits a Pacific battleground with Japanese and American former soldiers in tow for a reunion; 2013 doc The Iraq War (DR2, Mon-Wed 23:00) has a few weapons of massive intrigue; Shadow Play: the making of Anton Corbijn (DRK, Thu 20:00) time delves into the mind of a renowned creator of music album art; and catch up with Pramface (BBC Ent, ep3: Fri 23:00; ep4: Mon 22:35), a surprise sitcom success about two British teenagers divided by class, but united by a baby.

Sport of the Week

The English Premier League coverage kicks off this week under a new TV deal that sees all of the Sunday and Monday games shown on TV3 Sport 2, a channel exclusive to Viasat subscribers. Viewers of K6 and TV3+ can only see the same three games on Saturday, while there are highlights shows on the more accessible TV3 Sport 1. Elsewhere, well-hard thesp Danny Dyer explores hooliganism in the eight-episode series The Real International Football Factories (K6, Sat 21:00).

Films of the Week

Salt (TV3, Mon 21:30) is best avoided if you don’t buy Angelina Jolie being superhuman, which she isn’t meant to be; Brits who know their hooliganism tend to praise Rise of the Footsoldier (K6, Sat 00:55); war film The Messenger (SVT1, Fri 22:00) is a nuanced and moving drama that doesn’t feel the need to spoon-feed its audience; Unstoppable (TV3+, Wed 21:00) is frenetic but shallow; and Going the Distance (SVT4, Sat 21:20) is a long distance relationship romcom starring Drew Barrymore. Watch it at your peril.

Coming Soon – Ray Donovan

This new Stateside series follows Ray (Leiv Schreiber), a softly-spoken but brutally efficient South Boston fixer for the Hollywood glitterati. Whether it is celebrities being blackmailed by transgendered hookers or sport stars waking up next to dead women, the series drags us through Tinseltown’s seedy underbelly. Following the release of his father Mickey (John Voight), Ray becomes a ticking time bomb as the familial tension builds. Mickey, a gold chain-clad, Cadillac-driving thug who gawks at women breast feeding, tells paedophilic jokes at meetings for abused men and watches porn on library computers, is quite simply a brilliant creation. With a Metacritic score of 75, intense performances by the leads and a great supporting cast, why wait for the office’s TV bore to recommend it when you can fill his shoes.