TV Listings | Written by a piss-artist

Pick of the week: The Escape Artist (SVT4, Tue-Thu 21:00)

It’s no coincidence that Matt Smith, the current Dr Who, is the youngest ever. After all, how were the BBC ever going to persuade a big name to succeed David Tennant? Charm personified, he’s one of British TV’s hottest properties – a true star who can carry off the flimsiest of scripts.

Which is exactly what he does in The Escape Artist, according to the Daily Telegraph, in which he overcomes “a ludicrous plot to deliver an excellent performance”.

Tennant plays the title character: a top barrister who, true to his nickname, helps the guilty to beat the system. Only one time, it backfires and impacts on his personal life.
Despite its negative review, the Daily Telegraph enjoyed the “cracking direction, pace, dialogue and, above all, terrific acting”. Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) as the rival barrister and Toby Kebbell (RocknRolla) as the villain were also singled out for praise in the British media.

But it couldn’t overlook the script, finding it a “tortuously plotted and emotionally overblown legal drama” let down by a “palpably silly, insultingly improbable and crudely manipulative” plot.

The Guardian was likewise sceptical, claiming that David Wolstencroft, the creator of the inconsistent Spooks, had attacked his work “with a monkey wrench”.

The drama did have one fan, though: the Independent. It applauded the way it “gnaws at the Achilles’ heel of lovely, civilised” Britain.

“We have vast pride in our proper, regimented legal system, but quietly suspect that the law may well be an ass and that the dregs of humanity walk free every day,” it praised.
Nevertheless, it would have preferred something that didn’t rely so heavily on man-on-woman violence. After all, it mused, how many men out there think to themselves: “Why have I had to see five different male sexually motivated murders this week, it’s really putting me off going jogging or parking my car in a car park or visiting a holiday cottage, or just sleeping at night.” (Erika Pinto)

Coming soon: Bill Cosby: Far from Finished

After a 30-year hiatus from doing stand-up, you might think that Bill Cosby is finished. But as his new show proves, Cosby, at the age of 76, is Far From Finished.

The family-friendly entertainer, who was the first African-American to co-star on a TV series (I Spy), went on to transcend racial barriers in 1980s, mostly by leaving them untouched in his comedy.

His sitcom, The Cosby Show, was number one in the US ratings from 1985-89, before eventually bowing out … during the 1992 LA race riots.

His new show, with a 75 rating on Metacritic, will appeal to more than just the nostalgic. The New York Times praises his “refined sense of timing and  mastery of misdirection” – a skill that Cosby has been refining for over four decades. (ALS)

Also new

Nobody thought they could top the Battle of Blackwater Bay in the penultimate episode of the second series of Game of Thrones (TV3, Sat 21:55 Game of Thrones – season three), but they hadn’t banked on the Red Wedding in episode nine of the third series, which provides the climax of quite possibly the best TV episode ever (although Boardwalk Empire series two, episode 11, comes a close second – SVT1, Sat 22:20).

It’s almost as shocking as Miley: The Movement (TV2 Zulu, Fri 21:45) or the thought of A Night with Robbie Williams (DR3, Fri 20:00).

Elsewhere, there’s another chance to see Clare Danes in the inspiring TV movie Temple Grandin (SVT1, Fri 23:35); a whole evening for sweet tooths (DR2, Sat 20:00); while Tales from the Organ Trade (DR2, Thu 20:00) and Meet Britain’s Chinese Tiger Moms (BBC World, Sun 20:10 or Sat 15:10) speak for themselves. (BH)

Sport of the week

Manchester City, 100 percent at home averaging over four a game, host Arsenal (K6, Sat 13:45l, the leaders of the English Premier League by five points. Arsenal won this fixture seven times in a row up until 2006, but only twice since then. City’s Champions League opponents four days earlier, Bayern Munich, are off to Morocco to compete in the semis of the FIFA World Club Cup (DR3, Tue 20:25 FIFA World Club Cup: Bayen Munich vs TBC). Elsewhere, DR1 continues to show the World Women’s Handball Championship and Denver Broncos take on San Diego Chargers in the NFL (TV3+, Fri 02:25). (BH)

Film of the week

The Boat that Rocked (DR2, Fri 20:00 ) reminds me a bit of the first series of Blackadder – the only one that Richard Curtis wrote on his own. It’s bland and the plot is forgettable. Still, it will please music fans, as will Hair (DRK, Wed 21:30), the 1979 adaptation of the classic stage musical. While Kevin Hart fans should like Laugh at my Pain (TV2 Zulu, Wed 23:25). Elsewhere there’s plenty of bedroom action in the repetitive romcom Love and other Drugs (DR3, Sun 21:00) and even duller Elegy (DR1, Sat 00:50) and Sleeping Beauty (DRK, Thu 23:30). (BH)


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