This week I'm watching... the week's TV with Paul Whitington
Irish offerings include Charlie, focusing on the the turbulent career of Charlie Haughey, and soap opera Red Rock, along with The Case Against 8 and Westworld.
Sunday, RTÉ1, 9.30pm
Life and loves of an 1980s Taoiseach
Even Charles Haughey's enemies couldn't help but admire the flair with which he bounced back from crisis after crisis. The arms trial of 1970 would have killed the careers of most mainstream politicians, but not Charlie. By the late 1970s he was back in cabinet, serving as Minister for Social Welfare in Jack Lynch's government, and was waiting in the wings when growing economic troubles forced Lynch to resign as Taoiseach in 1979.
That's where this ambitious four-part TV drama begins, and while most observers assumed George Colley was the obvious choice to replace Jack Lynch as party leader and Taoiseach, Haughey had other ideas. The bitterness of that leadership battle would cause lasting divisions within Fianna Fail and almost broke the party up, but Charlie sailed on regardless, and would go on to serve three eventful terms as Taoiseach.
The Shakespearean richness of Haughey's story is obvious, and Charlie will explore his dealings with friends, like Brian Lenihan, and enemies, like Des O'Malley, as well as his marriage, opulent social life and relationship with Terry Keane. She is played by Lucy Cohu, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor is Haughey's brilliant advisor PJ Mara, and Aidan Gillen plays the man himself with an eerily familiar swagger.
Wednesday, TV3, 8.30pm
Prepare for a brand new Irish soap
Fair play to TV3 for taking on what must have been the huge logistical challenge of pulling together this twice-weekly soap opera, set in the fictional coastal town of Red Rock. The Kiely and Hennessey clans can’t stick the sight of each other, and their simmering rivalry frequently explodes into violence. So when a body’s discovered on Red Rock pier, the Guards reckon at least one of the families was involved. A strong cast includes Andrea Irvine, Cathy Belton and Liam Carney.
The Case Against 8
Award-winning US documentary
Netflix now boasts a strong selection of feature documentaries, and in The Case Against 8 we find out how two very different lawyers joined forces to help defeat a Californian ban on same sex marriages. In 2008, the state voted to bar gay couples from marrying, and in this moving documentary lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies challenge Proposition 8 in landmark court cases involving female partners with four sons, and long-term male partners who’ve been refused a marriage licence.
HBO, Sky Atlantic, spring
Trouble at a futuristic theme park
I'm really looking forward to seeing what Jonathan Nolan, whose writing credits include The Dark Knight, will do with this re-imagining of the classic 1970s sci-fi movie. The story is set in the near future at a high-tech adult amusement park populated by androids that look and seem like real people. But when one of them, a swaggering cowboy played by James Marsden, develops a malfunction, everyone had better watch out. Anthony Hopkins and Thandie Newton co-star.
The Soapbox: Secrets & spoilers
TV3's Red Rock is finally unveiled...
Red Rock: TV3's brand new flag ship soap about the Gardai tackling various seedy under bellies premieres on Wednesday January 7 at 8.30pm. It will largely follow two rival families, the Hennessys and the Kielys, who's never-ending feud is reignited (that's putting it mildly) in the opening episode. The soap, has already been commissioned for two years and has a talented cast and crew behind it. In short, it's the station's "largest commission ever" and is set to be a ratings winner in the looming absence of Emmerdale and Coronation Street.
Coronation street: David goes into battle as he informs the police of Callum's drug dealing empire. Thing is, he may have put little Max in danger. Michelle has a date with a guy called Hamish, while Liz attempts to whisk Steve away to Spain. Elsewhere, the Tinkers arrive en masse for Beth and Kirk's 1980s themed wedding. When her relies meet her betrothed, they're less than impressed having earlier mistaken Jason for her financé.
Emmerdale: The relationship between Charity and Cain has always run deep, so she soon cops that there's something not quite right with him, and she'd be right (he's got an aneurysm). The fact that he's self medicating his pounding headaches with whiskey and collapsing in the garage is also a bit of a giveaway. Katie threatens to expose Robert's "affair" with 'A' (that being Aaron, not Alicia), and Pete tries to dissuade Finn from getting in contact with their mum, Emma.
Fair City: Clar's arrival sparks fire between Paul and Nicola. Niamh, meanwhile struggles between spending time with Rachel and Michael, and her attempt to combine the old and new versions of her family fall flat. Dolores continues to worry about her health; there's yet another sad farewell for Monday; and Robbie's practical joke on Carol and Yvonne has the usual catastrophic consequences. eastenders: The fallout from Emma's findings regarding Lucy's murderer still reverberate around the Square.
Ros na Rún: Eoin begins to feel guilty about switching the pills but is it too late to save Jason?