The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The good side of June viewing.

For final years students, the time has come to decide. Some of us will step out as polyglots and savants, as capable creatures ready to face the real world. Others will saunter out, possessed of quixotic dreams that will go unrealised. Some will decide it is too soon and will stay and learn, gaining wisdom or biding time. In times such as these, a little introspection is needed. A period contemplating who we are, what we have learned and how we can use it.

I was engaged in just such an exercise today. It turns out that I can name the majority of the Kardashians. This surprised me. The Kardashians are an American family who are famous for I’m-not-sure-what and have a television show because I-don’t-know-why. The thing is, I have no recollection of watching their programme. When does this happen, this bizarre impregnation of ideas, this televisual immaculate conception? I feel violated. No doubt it is this mysterious mechanism that is to blame for my awareness of Channel 4’s Made In Chelsea. If I were watching it (which I can’t be) I would be five episodes in (which I’m not). So what have we learnt? Anyone? No, me neither. I’d have more scintillating conversations with a cadaver than with any of those people. Or are they characters? I don’t know. I don’t really care. The principle achievement of this show is to demonstrate that its rival, The Only Way Is Essex, is infinitely more bearable, more intellectually stimulating and populated by people/characters that you don’t want to hand a one-way ticket to Dignitas.

Whilst Caggie, Hugo and the rest of that stultifying crowd are going through a) the trust fund or b) utter emotional turmoil, the BBC are knocking out another of their “Original British Drama” pieces. They have plugged these so hard it’s difficult to know if they are sunk in self-regard or scared that nobody will end up watching them. This week saw the beginning of Case Histories, adapted from the novel by Kate Atkinson. I haven’t read the source material, but people who have seem to be disgruntled. In abstraction, the show works well. For the most part, this is due to the casting.

Top of the bill is Jason Isaacs as Jackson Brodie, private investigator apparently specialising in cases thought closed and always involving a missing girl. Handsome. Capable. Credible Yorkshire accent. Lives in a rather nice converted garage in Edinburgh. Oh yes, it’s all there. On top of this, he is divorced, trying to be a good father and can be a bit dark and haunted at times, which we love, don’t we? Annoyingly, just to make sure we know how complex his character is, someone has decided to punctuate the episodes with flashbacks every five minutes. Honestly, if I see one more I swear to God I’ll… and there’s another. Yes, it’s the same boy running through the same forest. We get it. Some serious shit went down. Isaacs can convey all this with a look; they should let him get on with it.

The wonderful Phil Davis and Sylvia Syms both turn in strong supporting roles as a grieving father and bonkers cat lady respectively. Brodie’s young daughter is well cast also. The moments in which the two interact are thoroughly entertaining and this bodes well for the remainder of the series.

If handsome, troubled male leads take your fancy, you might also enjoy ITV’s mini series Injustice penned and produced by Anthony Horowitz. James Purefoy stars as William Travers, a barrister who seems to have it all but in fact (and brace yourselves) has a dark secret. Really, I can’t believe it, a dark secret? Yes, you heard me, a dark secret. It’s terribly dark and terribly secret. Horowitz weaves a good story and draws some disgusting characters with usual aplomb. Whilst not the most compelling of psychological thrillers, Injustice offers a nice opportunity to enjoy a performance by Purefoy in which he isn’t hacking some poor medieval bastard limb from limb.

Case Histories continues Sunday at 9pm on BBC 1.

Injustice concludes tonight at 9pm on ITV. Catch up on ITV Player.

Made in Chelsea continues at blah blah whatever.

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