TV... The best of the week ahead
Your TV highlights with Paul Whitington
Wednesday, E!, 9pm
Scandals of a raunchy royal family
The moment I heard that Joan Collins would play the Queen Mother of a fictional British royal family in this wonderfully brash and tacky new drama series, I was sold. The Royals kicked off last week on the E! channel, and is a tremendous amount of fun. It's a bit like a cross between 1980s soap Dynasty and that awful biopic Diana, and stars Liz Hurley as the wily and glamorous Queen Helena Henstridge, wife and consort of King Simon (Vincent Regan). And from the word go, these embattled royals face a series of potentially fatal challenges.
In fact the Henstridges blunder wildly from crisis to crisis, beginning with the death of the heir to the throne in a shooting accident. Worse than that, though, is the arrival of a ghastly commoner at the palace, after a dashing prince who's second in line to the throne falls in love with the daughter of the chief of security. Merritt Patterson plays the unfortunate Ophelia, who quickly finds herself in the middle of a scheming and ruthless bunch of over-privileged snobs.
The 10-part drama makes the odd sly reference to actual royals: two of the Queen's nieces are red-haired Sloanes who wear bad hats, and Prince Liam is vaguely horrified by his status and wants to get down with the people.
King Simon, meanwhile, wants to disband the monarchy and retire to a castle, but his formidable wife is having none of it. "You're the King of England, goddamit! Now act like it!" The Royals is full of such show-stopping moments of melodrama, and it wouldn't surprise me if this lot have burnt down Buckingham Palace by the time the show has ended.
Thursday, RTE2, 9pm
Getting back to work
In this new reality series, Darren Kennedy and Jennifer Maguire will act as mentors to young unemployed people finding it hard to get work. And in the opening episode they help an arts student called Chloe who loves dancing but has never had a full-time job, and a would-be actor called Jamie who’s a bit too good at playing X-box. Darren and Jennifer will try to persuade them that just because you’re not doing what you wanted doesn’t mean you should do nothing at all.
Hitler invades the 1980s!
I must admit I'm fond of surreal comedies, and they don't come much more surreal than Danger 5, an Australian fantasy sitcom that's bonkers but hilarious. In season one of this truly bizarre show, a group of crime-fighting smoothies travelled back to the 1940s to kill Hitler. And they succeeded, but in season two the dictator's back, in the 1980s, “and all he wants is a date with world domination”. Danger 5 is broad comedy and knowingly cheesy, but it has a nicely biting satirical edge.
The X Files
Mulder & Scully back from the dead
The X Files was one of the biggest shows in the 1990s, and at its height averaged 20 million viewers an episode in the US. It’s been 13 years since the cult sci-fi series bit the dust, but last week Fox made the shock announcement that it will return next year for six brand new episodes. The show’s creator Chris Carter will write and direct, while David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson will return as star-crossed FBI agents Mulder and Scully, who may have a bit of catching up to do.
The Soapbox: Secrets & spoilers
Assaults, confrontations, and not so 'fun runs'
Emmerdale: Remember when Laurel was the vicar's wife and an upstanding member of the community? Well, now that she's with Marlon, she's breaking into the church hall to horse into the booze from the village tombola. Chrissie lands home early, so Aaron goes on an epic run - which renders him unconscious. Emma's jealous of Chas and James, so a divorce is not high on her list of priorities. Fair City: Tensions are high as Jackie and Pete divorce. Finally. And one could mistake it for sexual tension given how many times he snogs her. Frank and Decco are at war again; this time the root is Decco's Van, not their unbridled love for the same woman - who reckons they can all just get along. Cass has a chance to play the hero when Zoe goes missing, which is a nice boost considering he's just found out his job doesn't exist.
Coronation Street: Things go from bad to worse for Faye. She's hell bent on not bonding with her baby girl, the police are intent on questioning her regarding the father, and then she arrives home from hospital to see Owen lashing out at Craig, who he's convinced got the tween pregnant. Will Owen get done for assault? Todd's relationship with his mother Eileen reaches a new level when he starts pretending to be a potential suitor on the dating website. He kicks things off by saying he'd like to rub oil on her back...
EastEnders: Denise Van Outen joins the cast this week as one Karin Smart, because EastEnders needs another 'mahfee' blonde. Upon landing in the square on the hunt for Phil, she manages to get herself involved in the garage war between himself and Max. Next thing you know, she's suggesting a business deal with Branning after making him an offer he can't refuse. If you know worrah mean.
Ros na Rún: Cathal's surprise wedding spells the end for him and Berni. Surprisingly.
* Sheena McGinley is an editor at entertainment.ie