This week I'm watching - TV with Paul Whitington
Houdini. Sunday, Channel 4, 9pm. Lavish biopic of the legendary escapologist.
The old taboo about film stars never working on television is largely a thing of the past, and Oscar-winner Adrien Brody heads the cast of this colourful mini-series based on the life and times of Harry Houdini.
Erik Weisz is just four-years-old when he arrives in New York in 1878 with his family, who were escaping poverty and persecution in Hungary.
By the age of nine he was performing publicly as a trapeze artist, and adopted the stage name of Houdini when he began working as a magician. When card tricks brought him little fame, he began experimenting with escapology, and discovered a rare talent for freeing himself from bonds and handcuffs.
Houdini became internationally famous when, during a tour of Europe, he baffled detectives at Scotland Yard by freeing himself from their handcuffs. He later escaped from a Chinese water torture cell, a straight-jacket chained to a crane, a crate that had been dumped in the East River and even submitted to being buried alive.
He was a remarkable character, controversial and elusive, and Brody by all accounts is excellent in a series that follows Houdini from childhood to his bizarre early death.
SEp 15, TV3, 8pm
One man's battle to lose weight
This new four-part reality series follows Dubliner Ray Adamson's desperate efforts to lose weight. Though only 31, he already weighs more than 28 stone and is worried that he won't live long enough to see his children grow up. So Ray embarks on a brutal regime that includes gruelling daily workouts and a radical new diet that will hopefully bring about the changes he needs, for himself and his family. And he's given just 12 weeks to achieve his daunting goals.
Mindbending Canadian sci-fi thriller
It's been hailed by some as the new Buffy, and this strangely engrossing Canadian fantasy drama is pretty clever stuff. The excellent Tatiana Maslany is Sarah Manning, a wandering con artist who's hustling in an unnamed North American city when she sees a woman who could be her twin kill herself. Sarah decides to steal the dead woman's identity, and life, but soon has good cause to regret it. Maria Doyle Kennedy co-stars in this addictive and original series.
Scorsese's thriller is adapted for TV
Martin Scorsese's nightmarish 2010 movie Shutter Island starred Leonardo DiCaprio as a 1950s cop who gets lost in a Boston mental hospital while investigating a patient's disappearance. It was a memorably atmospheric and disturbing film, and will now become a TV series co-produced by HBO and Universal. Scorsese himself plans to direct the first episode, and original writer Dennis Lehane is scripting the series, which will be a prequel, and should be worth waiting for.