Saturday 25 November 2017

RTÉ had only one thing worth spying upon

Keri Russell in The Americans
Keri Russell in The Americans

RTÉ having taken its well-earned summer holidays, the only programme of any interest from our national broadcaster was imported from the United States.

This was the third-season opener of The Americans (RTE2), a superior drama about an apple-pie suburban married couple who are actually Soviet infiltrators, with wife Elizabeth (Keri Russell) as the more hardline and ruthless of the duo. Now it's the turn of 14-year-old daughter Paige, American-born and innocent of her parents' secret lives, to be recruited as a sleeper agent, though hubby Philip (Matthew Rhys) is not at all happy with this development.

Meanwhile, there are people to be duped and brutal murders to be committed in a series that has kept its nerve and its clammy hold on viewers.

Over on BBC4, foreign-language drama is yet again being honoured, though the Belgian series, Cordon, hasn't the stature of such Danish dramas as The Killing, The Bridge or Borgen or of the terrific long-running French series, Spiral.

In Cordon, an Afghan illegal refugee has unknowingly carried a deadly virus into Antwerp, forcing the authorities to isolate a section of the city and all of those trapped inside the area.

That's a good premise, but most of the human-interest stories are lame, some of them downright implausible - what kind of daft teacher takes her pupils on a class outing to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases?

And already I'm feeling as caged as the hapless characters, though at least I've the option to escape, an option I'm now taking.

In this week's episode of Humans (Channel 4), dreary hubby Joe activated the adult settings on dishy family robot Anita and had sex with her. She didn't even bother trying to fake an orgasm, but then the series has become so grimly earnest and plodding that you don't expect anyone to be having a good time, or even pretending.

And The Syndicate (BBC1), which was daftly enjoyable at the outset, ended up just daft, with toffs and plebs all one happy family.

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