This week, Dan Withey tells us what’s on his goggle-box…

Better Call Saul

Slippin’ Jimmy is back as Better Call Saul returned to Netflix for its second season last week. Despite slight nervous reservations when the show was initially announced in 2014, this Breaking Bad spin-off prequel managed to put all of those concerns to rest after a wonderful first season. It was always going to be a battle to successfully follow-up an ‘event’ like Breaking Bad, but series creator Vince Gilligan has managed to capture the same style and tone of the predecessor, while creating something that is very much standing on its own two feet. So watchable and engrossing is Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill that you never catch your thoughts wandering back to Walt and Jessie. All that matters here is witnessing the metamorphosis. Season 1 saw him (trying to) change from Slippin’ Jimmy the con-artist, floating through life, to Jimmy McGill an aspiring attorney who just wants to make his brother proud by doing the right thing. However, as the opening episode of season 2 shows, sometimes it’s a lot easier to focus your time and efforts conning some arrogant stock broker into paying for a whole bottle of $50-a-shot tequila. This wavering back and forth between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, as we all know, will eventually come to an end as Jimmy makes full transformation in to shit-buttifly criminal lawyer Saul Goodman. It just remains to be seen how he gets there.

Mid Morning Matters

Who would Alan’s dream dinner party guests be? Yes, the Thatcher family and Jesus Christ. Obviously. One of the many insights we gained last week as another season 2 return for a much-loved character happened with Mid-Morning Matters bringing back Alan Partridge to Sky Atlantic. We also had a quick glimpse of Alan’s new girlfriend Angela (played by Monica Dolan), Sidekick Simon (Tim Key) and his heartfelt admission that he managed to track down his maternal mother and we see that Alan is still trying to get away with secret sponsorship deals (this time its Range Rover). This low-key show with studio cam set up is proving to be one of Partridges best TV outings. Although no involvement this time round from long time Partridge writer/director/producer Armando Iannucci, it’s still the funniest thing on TV right now (and possibly all time).

 

This American Life

Going back a few years for pick number three. For those who are not familiar with the long running National Public Radio show This American Life, let me sum it up; each week they chose a theme, and bring you stories based on that theme. Simple. Yet this hugely influential radio show has managed to take that simple premise and make it work for over 20 years. Hosted by the ever so slick Ira Glass (and his nasal tones), this is the pinnacle of real life story telling, collecting up stories from all over America and telling them in engaging and imaginative ways. Being an article about Television however, I’ll introduce you to This American Life: The TV Series. It ran for 2 seasons on Showtime between 2007 and 2009. Same basic premise, but with pictures! Ira Glass and the TML team managed to take their unique and much-loved (and often copied) brand of story telling and make it work over two very different mediums. Also, don’t be fooled by the fact it only ran for 2 seasons, this wasn’t a matter of a network pulling the plug, this was very much a matter of time and resources. Making radio that good needs full-time commitment.