TV Listings | Wiseguys will tune in and be on the edge

Pick of the new year:

Vegas & Dancing on the Edge (DR1, Jan 8, 22:30 & SVT1, Jan 4, 21:00)

Based on his experiences as a reporter for AP in the 1950s, Nicholas Pileggi wrote Wiseguy, a novel that was subsequently developed into the Oscar-winning screenplay for Goodfellas. While his latest mob-based drama, Vegas, may not be in the same league, its large on-screen ensemble does boast the likes of Michael Chiklis (The Shield) and Dennis Quaid.

Quaid’s character is based on a real-life rancher turned crime fighter, Ralph Lamb. The series begins with the murder of the governor’s niece, after which the mayor asks Lamb to step in as the new sheriff and work the case. As Vegas develops we are witness to increasingly violent clashes on the plains of New Mexico between hitmen on motorcycles and ranchers on horseback. And Lamb’s efforts to preserve public order amid the encroaching mob rule, are fettered at every step by an ambitious Chicago mobster, Vincent Savino (Chiklis).

Stephen Poliakoff’s reputation precedes him. But while some call him an arrogant control freak, over the past 30 years, he has helped, with dramas like The Lost Prince, to define the standards that British TV audiences have come to expect. His directorial quality is omnipresent throughout his latest five-part drama, Dancing on the Edge, a series set in the 1930s that follows a charismatic journalist (Matthew Goode) who discovers and promotes a black jazz band.

The band’s success attracts fans from the aristocracy – not interested in social justice, the music or even the people behind it, but simply the thrill of defying convention. Of course, the performers of the era where not oblivious to this – the inerrant prejudice and mistrust of the era is skilfully depicted throughout the series – but, they were forced to pander to high society in their pursuit of recognition and success. When disaster strikes however, the facade is shattered and many of the jazz band’s most ardent supporters betray them, setting off a chain of events that threaten the musicians’ future.

Chris Jones

Coming Soon:

Life According to Sam

A tale of life and death, a mother’s love and her teenage son’s will to beat a horrific disease, this compelling new HBO documentary series tells the story of 17-year old Sam Berns, a sufferer of progeria – a rare genetic disorder that causes the rapid ageing of body tissue and premature death. Few patients with progeria live past their early 20s.

With 86 on Metacritic, the film has garned more praise for the team who won the Oscar for best documentary for 2012 with Inocente.
The Washington Post called it “remarkable in the ways it mimics Sam’s guiding principle and spirit”.

“It only wants you to feel how fragile yet wonderful life can be,” it continued.

“Do yourself a favour and come hang out with Sam for a while.” (RS)

Also New:

First the miniseries. There’s the dull 2012 drama The Last Weekend (SVT2, Dec 27-29, 21:45) and the absorbing 2007 Cold War thriller The Company (DR2, Dec 25-27, 21:00).

The new series include 2013 mockumentary Siberia (DR3, starts Dec 26, 18:30), which has been compared to Lost, season four of The Walking Dead (DR3, Jan 7, 22:00), and British internal affairs drama Line of Duty (DR1, Jan 8, 23:15).

The one-offs include the 50th anniversary episode of Dr Who (DR3, Dec 20, 20:00) and its 2013 Xmas special (Dec 26, 20:00), the X Factor Final (DR3, Dec 28, 20:00), and the American Music Awards (DR3, Dec 26, 21:00).  

And the docs include the highly-acclaimed British doc, Moving to Mars (DR2, Dec 23, 23:15) about two Burmese families emigrating to the UK, How Jaws changed the World (DR3, Dec 30, 21:30), and an ABBA theme night (DR2, Dec 28, 20:00). (BH)

Sports of the week:

On Xmas Day, basketball fans can sit down to not one, but three live NBA games (DR3, Dec 25 18:00: Mets vs Bulls, Knicks vs Thunder, Lakers vs Heat), lending further credence to our theory that DR3 is being backmailed by the American Meetup group. But then again, it is showing the final of the World Club Cup (probably Bayern Munich vs Atlético Mineiro). Elsewhere, K6 are showing the first round of the FA Cup (Jan 4-6) and Arsenal vs Chelsea (Dec 24, TV3 Sport 1, 13:00) and Manchester City vs Liverpool (TV3+, Dec 26 18:30) are the picks of the English Premier League holiday programme. (BH)

Film of the week:

You’ve got to give SBS credit for picking films nobody in their right mind would watch at the cinema, on DVD, or even on a plane. Films like Edge of Darkness (K5, Dec 19, 21:00), Conan the Barbarian (K6, Jan 1, 21:55), Little Fockers (K5, Jan 1, 22:20) and Jason Statham vehicles 13 (K6, Jan 5, 21:05) and The Mechanic (K5, Jan 4, 21:55). Which leaves us with vibrator history lesson Hysteria, absorbing ballet flick Black Swan and charming British kids films Mr Stink as the only ones worth recommending. (BH)

DR2, Dec 29, 20:40 Black Swan
DR2, Dec 20, 20:00 Hysteria
SVT4, Jan 2, 18:00 Mr Stink