The best of the TV week ahead with Paul Whitington
The comedy of quiet despair
Togetherness, Monday, Sky Atlantic, 10.35pm
This winning and knowingly ironic new comedy series started on HBO and Sky Atlantic a couple of weeks back, and immediately got compared to Lena Dunham's 'Girls'. Which is fair enough as far as it goes, since 'Togetherness' also deals with the problems of comfortably off-middle class white people who spend much of their time bemoaning their not-particularly tragic lots. But 'Togetherness' is aimed at a slightly older audience, and seems altogether more grown-up in a way.
It's created by Jay and Mark Duplass, whose previous credits include comic indie movies like 'Jeff, Who Lives at Home'. Mark Duplass also stars as Brett Pierson, a middle-aged Hollywood worker whose dreams of stardom haven't materialised. He's a movie sound designer and is married to stay-at-home mom Michelle (Melanie Lynskey).
They're not actively unhappy, but never have sex and in a hilarious opening episode catch each other masturbating. To add to their problems are their two lodgers, Michelle's older sister Tina (Amanda Peet), and Brett's best friend Alex (Steve Zissis). Tina is an ageing party girl who's still wondering why the music stopped. She despairs of ever finding a man, and Alex is in an even sadder state - he's a balding, homeless actor who hasn't worked in years. 'Togetherness' lampoons their self-absorption, but affectionately, and Steve Zissis is wonderful as the resident sad-eyed clown.
The Walking Dead, Monday, Fox, 9pm, Season five resumes
‘The Walking Dead’ has been a quality drama from the very start, a brilliantly realised horror thriller with movie-standard production values and a constantly evolving plot. Season five resumes this week on Fox after that shocking bloodbath at the hospital at the end of episode eight. Beth stabbed Dawn, Dawn shot Beth and then Daryl finished off Dawn. What will happen to Rick, and to Noah? Who has decided to join him? Only one way to find out.
Glue, 4oD, any time, Murder in the countryside
I missed this absorbing drama when it was first shown on E4 in the autumn, but thanks to the magic of Channel 4’s on-demand player 4oD, I’m now catching up with it. Created by ‘Skins’ writer Jack Thorne, ‘Glue’ punctures the myth of the English bucolic idyll, as the teenagers in this village are every bit as disaffected as their urban counterparts — they’re just a bit more bored. Until, that is, a body turns up under a tractor, and a group of friends are put under the official microscope.
Critical, Sky One, 2015, A new kind of medical drama
Irish actress Catherine Walker is among the cast of this major new Sky One hospital drama that’s just gone into production. ‘Critical’ is set in a state-of-the-art trauma unit, and the attractively simple premise is that each episode will involve the real-time attempt to stabilise and save the life of a single patient. Expect plenty of blood and guts from a series that promises to give us a realistic account of emergency care. I wonder where they’ll find the time for the inevitable medical romance.