Television: This week I'm watching with Paul Whitington
Paul Whitington's small screen picks this week...
Tonight, Sky Atlantic, 9pm
Gangster saga's final season
A modest hit on HBO in America, Terence Winter's sprawling 1920s crime drama has failed to capture the public imagination in these parts, perhaps because the first two series were dense with complicated political machinations. But critics love it, it's one of those shows that gets better as it goes along, and 'Boardwalk Empire' also gives the excellent Steve Buscemi a role that's worthy of his talent.
Atlantic City treasurer Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson is a charming and well-liked political operator who leads a double life as a ruthless gangster, effortlessly outwitting his enemies and using a gang of heavies to carry out his dirty work. The first two seasons saw Nucky tighten his grip on Atlantic City, but seasons three and four became much more interesting as he extended his business interests to Chicago and Florida and made the acquaintance of legendary hoodlums Meyer Lansky (Anatol Yusef) and Al Capone (compellingly played by Stephen Graham).
This fifth and last series is set in 1931, at the height of the Great Depression, and just two years before the main source of Nucky's income, bootlegging, will come to an end when prohibition is repealed. It could go absolutely anywhere.
UTV, Monday, 9pm
Life of the Liverpudlian chanteuse
I flagged this as one to watch a month or so back, and Jeff Pope's three-part biopic looks like it should be interesting. Sheridan Smith (above left) plays a young Cilla Black, who's working as an office typist in Liverpool in the early 60s, but has dreams of becoming a singer. And things start to happen for Cilla when her friends The Beatles introduce her to their manager, Brian Epstein, and she starts singing at the Cavern Club. With John Henshaw, Aneurin Barnard, Melanie Hill.
Silly but enjoyable horror show
Eli Roth's gothic chiller got a bit of a pasting from the critics when it debuted on Netflix last year, but the effects are marvellous, it's a lot of fun and season two was a big improvement on the first. A third and final season will be streamed next year, but meanwhile I've been enjoying Peter's struggles with parenthood, Roman's understandable uneasiness about becoming a fully fledged vampire, and the arrival in Hemlock Grove of a glamorous stranger called Miranda.
Netflix, next year
How Bruce Wayne became Batman
This big-budget drama from Fox sounds like a lot of fun, and takes the Batman story right back to the very start. Ben McKenzie stars as James Gordon, who's a young detective when he's paired with the older and more cynical Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) to investigate the shocking murder of Gotham City's golden couple, Thomas and Martha Wayne. Gordon takes pity on their young son, Bruce, who witnessed the killings and is understandably traumatised.