From Mindhunter to Electric Dreams - here's what to watch on the box this weekend
Pat Stacey has trawled the schedules so you don't have to...
Twenty-two years ago David Fincher set a new standard for grisly thrillers with Seven, or Se7en as the posters billed it. From the eye-catchingly creepy opening titles to the incredibly downbeat denouement, it changed the twisted face of serial killer movies.
Fincher’s name on a project is always reason enough alone to take a look. He’s the co-producer, with Charlize Theron, and director of four episodes of Mindhunter (Netflix), set in 1977 and based on a non-fiction book about the early years of FBI psychological profiling.
Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany play two agents from the Elite Serial Crime Unit who are assigned to interview and analyse imprisoned mass murderers in order to better understand serial killers. The whole first season is up today.
Jane Fonda makes her first appearance on The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10.35pm) and it should be fun seeing how the Hollywood legend copes with the irreverent atmosphere, which has taken more than a few A-listers by surprise. With Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Bryan Cranston and others also on the sofa, what’s not to like?
Guests on The Late Late Show (RTE1, 9.30pm) include Brendan O’Carroll.
The death of disco in the 1980s left an awful lot of one-trick ponies high and dry. Not so master-musician, writer and producer Nile Rodgers, who adapted to changing times with effortless panache.
The middle part of Nile Rodgers: How to Make It in the Music Business (BBC4, 9pm) focuses on how he reinvented Diana Ross, whose career was on a downward slope, his work with Madonna, Carly Simon and Duran Duran, and best of all, his sublime
collaboration with David Bowie on the
album Let’s Dance. A wonderful series.
Maybe Porridge (BBC1, 9.30pm) will
improve as it progresses, but so far it’s trapped in the shadow of its illustrious predecessor — and no wonder, when the scripts are so derivative of the originals. Tonight, we get to meet prison kingpin Dougie Parfitt, who’s basically an updated Harry Grout.
A much more successful revival of an old favourite is Cold Feet (UTV/ITV, 9pm), which continues to find rich material in the aches of middle age. The penultimate episode finds Jen (Fay Ripley) growing bored with her marriage to Pete (John Thomson), who seems happy to vegetate in front of Dragons’ Den.
Unreported World (Channel 4, 7.30pm) lives up to its name tonight when it looks at a human tragedy that tended to get elbowed out of the news by other natural disasters: the mudslide in Sierra Leone in August that flattened villages, destroyed livelihoods and killed 500 people. Hundreds more are still missing. Seyi Rhodes’s report was filmed just days after the catastrophe.
It’s hard to pinpoint the moment when history programmes became less about the history and more about the historian, but the historian-as-celebrity phenomenon reached overload long ago in the shape of Lucy Worsley, whose habit of dressing up in costumes befitting whatever period she’s discussing has become extremely irritating.
We can expect a lot of this sort of nonsense in Lucy Worsley’s Nights at the Opera (BBC2, 9pm), in which she breezes through famous moments in opera and visits the cities where they were conceived.
Stretching to reach the lowest common denominator, she describes The Marriage of Figaro as “the 18th century
equivalent of a blockbuster movie”. Dear, oh, dear.
One of the great things about PBS America is that you get multiple chances to see programmes. Tonight offers a back-to-back brace of excellent documentaries on a topic the channel does superbly well: the Old West.
Annie Oakley (PBS America, 7.55pm) is a portrait of the sharpshooter (real name Phoebe Ann Mosey) who rose from poor beginnings to become not just an international celebrity in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, but also a pioneer of sexual equality.
Neatly, it’s followed by Buffalo Bill (PBS America, 9.10pm), an account of the eventful life of William F Cody who, before he dazzled audiences in America and Europe with the aforementioned entertainment spectacular, was a Pony Express rider (at just 14), a Union soldier in the Civil War, a civilian scout and a Medal of Honour winner.
The fact that homelessness is among the greatest crises facing society doesn’t appear to have dented the popularity of property porn. New series Best Laid Plains (Channel4, 4.30pm) opens with a couple facing a terrible dilemma: should they have a shower or a bath in the en suite of their double-storey extension? Feel your heart bleeding yet?
Electric Dreams (Channel 4, 9pm) has been a very mixed bag so far, but this week’s episode, ‘Real Life’, set in parallel worlds, sounds like the closest the anthology series has yet come to capturing the true essence of Philip K Dick.
Anna Paquin plays Sarah, a stressed-out cop hunting the criminal who massacred her colleagues. To help her relax, her wife gives her a virtual reality “vacation” where she acts out the fantasy of being “George”, a tech billionaire with a sideline as a vigilante.
But when “George” also dons a VR headset, reality and fantasy become dangerously confused.
If only the worlds explored in Louis Theroux: Dark States (BBC2, 9pm) were fantasy and not grim reality. In the second of three films, he talks to female sex workers in Houston, Texas, and ponders the strange emotional ties between some of the women and their odious pimps.
Antiques Roadshow (BBC1, 8pm) can always be counted on to throw up a few gobsmacking surprises every year, and tonight, the gob being smacked belongs to a woman who can’t believe what the marble statue of a nude woman she’s brought along is worth.
On the drama front, it’s the last for now from Victoria (UTV/ITV, 9pm), where the repeal of the Corn Laws is at the centre of the episode. In Acceptable Risk (RTE1, 9.30pm), Ireland’s unlikeliest detective, Emer (Angeline Ball), defies her bosses to help Sarah (Elaine Cassidy) find the truth. No cliché left unpolished.