From Glow to Poldark to Dragon's Den - what to watch (and what not to watch) on TV this weekend
Wondering what to watch on your tellybox this weekend? Pat Stacey has trawled the schedules for the best of viewing across tonight, Saturday and Sunday from Glow's return to Netflix to Poldark on Sunday.
For all the money Netflix has been throwing at effects-heavy sci-fi and supernatural spectaculars lately, it’s mid-budget series such as 1980s-set comedy GLOW (streaming from today) that often yield the most rewards for the viewer.
The third season of this engaging, fictionalised account of the exploits of the Gorgeous Ladies of Professional Wrestling sees a change of location and the addition of a welcome new face. With their low-budget TV show now cancelled, the group have taken up a residency in a Las Vegas casino run by the floridly named Sandy Devereaux St Clair (the wonderful Geena Davis), a kind but formidable businesswoman who doesn’t care for wrestling, but sure knows how to sell a product.
The trend for crime dramas that pivot on child abduction and/or murder continues with Thou Shalt Not Kill (More4, 9pm), an Italian import starring Miriam Leone as Turin homicide detective inspector Valeria Ferro, who seems to have a sixth sense for sniffing out murderers among tightly-knit social groups.
The body of a 15-year-old girl is found in a flooded basement just as her father and diving coach is at a television studio, where he’s about to make an appeal regarding her disappearance.
There’s a lot to like about Fosse/Verdon (BBC2, 9pm), not least the performances by Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams, but the jerky structure and the dips into musical fantasia make it a little too similar in style to the real Fosse’s movie All That Jazz, a loosely fictionalised account of his own life and career. The third episode, heavy on the flashbacks, delves into Gwen Verdon’s messy childhood.
BBC Proms (BBC4, 8pm) always makes a few concessions to us plebs who don’t know our Prokofievs from our chicken kievs, hence this double-bill of popular tunes. First up, the John Wilson Orchestra pays tribute to the music of Warner Bros movies, followed from 10.30pm by some spacey science fiction soundtracks.
The abysmal Hold the Sunset (BBC1, 9pm) claims another victim tonight as Sue Johnston becomes the latest venerable star to besmirch their CV with an appearance in this dud. She plays the loathsome sister of Edith (Alison Steadman). Meanwhile, Phil (John Cleese) has gone AWOL. Perhaps he’s trying to track down a few jokes.
Joan Jett: Bad Reputation (Sky Arts, 9pm) is a refreshing change from the usual testosterone-heavy Friday night rock docs. Born in Pennsylvania to an insurance salesman father and a secretary mother, she demolished the sexist old notion that girls don’t play electric guitars.
Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, Miley Cyrus and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day (who Jett was supporting in Dublin when I was lucky enough to see her a few years ago) are among those paying tribute to her rip-roaring talent and enormous influence.
An equally important rock icon is also on the bill tonight in the intimate documentary Bruce Springsteen: In His Own Words (RTE2, 10.35pm), made in 2016 to coincide with the publication of his excellent autobiography Born to Run.
The Boss opens up about his music and his life, which has been clouded by depression, in a series of frank interviews.
Great as it is to see BBC2 showing Atlanta: Robbin’ Season (BBC2, from 10.30pm), there’s a distinct sense that it’s being thrown away in a lousy slot. Here we have the final three episodes squeezed back-to-back.
But if that’s a half-marathon, Apollo’s Moon Shot (Smithsonian Channel, from 5.05pm) is the full thing. If you missed this wonderful series in the run-up to the Apollo 11 anniversary, this is a re-run of all six episodes.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world still in existence. In Egypt’s Great Pyramid Uncovered (Channel 4, 8pm), archaeologists use the latest technology to explore how it was built and the lives of those who built it.
You always know RTE is slowly beginning to creak back into life for the autumn when you see a new series featuring the amiable John Creedon in the Sunday schedule. Creedon’s Atlas of Ireland (RTE1, 6.30pm) seems to be the formula as usual: lots of scenic travel. This time, Creedon is search of the secrets behind Ireland’s most unusual place names.
Rather more adventurous paths are trodden in The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan (BBC2, 9pm), where TV’s most reluctant traveller (or that’s the shtick, anyway) visits Bosnia and Herzegovina to discover how this small corner of Eastern Europe has changed since the war.
As ever, there’s some perilous task awaiting him; this time it’s trying out Sarajevo’s abandoned bobsleigh track, a remnant of the 1984 Winter Olympics.
And speaking of remnants, Dragons’ Den (BBC2, 8pm) is back for its umpteenth season, even though it possesses all the freshness of a month-old loaf of bread. There’s a new face, “crafting queen Sara Davies” (it says here), the youngest ever Dragon, who joins “the titans of industry” (it says here) Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Touker Suleyman and Tej Lalvani. If they’re such titans, how come they have all that time to waste on a TV show?
Poldark (BBC1, 9pm) is never less than watchable, but where it usually falls down is trying to shoehorn BIG SIGNIFICANT HISTORICAL CHANGES into the storyline. This week, Demelza finds herself in a spin with the workers and the locals when the bank starts paper notes instead of gold. Paper money... imagine that.
The new Premier League season started yesterday, but Match of the Day 2 (BBC1, 11.30pm) has highlights of one of the fixtures that’s a first-weekend highlight: Manchester United v Chelsea. There’s extra spice in the fact that both sides are now managed by beloved former players, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Frank Lampard.