This week’s What We’re Watching comes from bright new writer Harry Jamshidian, who gives us a run down of what’s on his set top box this week.
BBC flagship dramas have got a hell of a lot better over the years. Admittedly they’re still a bit slow for my taste but the production values and acting talent has skyrocketed. Particularly with Shetland. DCI Jimmy Perez (the brilliantly understated Douglas Henshall) is back solving weekly murders in a community that makes the county of Midsomer look like a metropolis. That’s not fair. It’s not weekly murders, it’s a series of murders in a mysterious revenge attack spanning generations. The story’s solid and not too ‘awww terrible’ BBC patronising suburban pity. The cast is excellent including James Cosmo (GoT), Ciaran Hinds (There Will Be Blood) and Saskia Reeves (I.D.), and (what it’s all really about) the scenery? Stunning.
American Crime Story
Not only are the BBC making good drama, they’re buying good drama too. American Crime Story is an anthology of famous crime stories that have gripped the States and the world in the last fifty years. The first season follows the trial of OJ ‘The Juice’ Simpson (superstar American footballer) who was accused (and acquitted) of stabbing his wife to death in the back. The directing’s superb, the flow’s fast, the story’s a little on the nose (they’re really pushing this whole “it was a trial played out to the media” thing) but we forgive them because the acting/actors are first class. OJ Simpson’s played by Cuba Gooding Jnr (Jerry Maguire, Men of Honor), David Schwimmer (Friends) is solid being constantly in despair as OJ’s best friend Robert Kardashian, but the show’s stolen by Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, lead prosecution attorney, and the brilliant John Travolta as egoistical defense lawyer Robert Shapiro.
The Beeb’s not just making good drama, not just buying good drama, it’s coming up with some original ideas as well. The latest is Stag, about a stag-do which turns into a murder mystery as each member of the party gets murdered off in some sick twisted outdoory way in the Scottish Highlands. It’s fun and the group of lads, which include Stephen Campbell Moore (Bright Young Things), Pilou Asbaek (Borgan) and Jim Howick (let out of his box on E4), play off each other nicely and, again, it’s beautifully set in some of the most stunning countryside in the UK.