Six TV shows to watch this week
Bridget and Eamon return to chew their way through the Midlands
Bridget & Eamon
Tuesday, RTÉ Two, 9.30pm
You might call it a comedy show, but for me it’s a gripping slice of social anthropology, a searing study of Ireland in the pre-Celtic Tiger years, and an insightful glimpse into a pastel-coloured world of Miami Vice jackets, Dynasty shoulder-pads and flock wallpaper.
I’m talking of course about Bridget & Eamon, back for a third series of rural shenanigans in the 1980s, and once again starring Jennifer Zamparelli as big-haired, big-spectacled Bridget and Bernard O’Shea and beardy, boozy Eamon, with Edwin Sammon returning as Fr Gabriel, Colum McDonnell as Fierce Handy Frank, and Norma Sheahan, Eleanor Tiernan, Sharon Mannion and Laura O’Mahony as Bridget’s girlie pals.
We all know there was never a dull moment in 1980s Ireland, so expect our favourite bickering couple to get up to all sorts of carry-on in this third series, including opening a video store in their house, running rival radio stations, joining a camogie team and accidentally starring in a porn video. In the first episode, Bridget’s mother (played by Deirdre O’Kane) arrives with her foreign toyboy – hilarity, we have absolutely no doubt, will ensue.
Sunday, Channel 4, 9pm
The work of Philip K Dick permeates the cinemaverse, from Blade Runner to Total Recall, but now the most influential sci-fi writer of them all comes to the small screen, where his often-prescient, always evocative short stories can be nicely framed. Electric Dreams is an ambitious new anthology series comprising 10 standalone stories.
And check the credits: it’s a starry cast that includes Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston (a big fan of Dick’s work who also executive produces the series), Steve Buscemi, Jack Reynor, Timothy Spall, Anna Paquin and Vera Farmiga. The first story is The Hood Maker, set in a world without technology, where a group of telepathic people control communications. But the order of things is disrupted when someone creates a hood that prevents the telepaths from reading minds.
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm
How do you cap a brilliant career on stage and screen? Playing a hard-boiled cop in a gritty TV crime drama might be just the ticket. It worked for Kenneth Branagh, and now our own Brendan Gleeson is starring in a new series adapted from a Stephen King novel, Mr Mercedes. Gleeson plays Bill Hodges, a retired homicide detective haunted by his last, unsolved case, when a stolen Mercedes ploughed into a group of people, killing 16. Two years after he retires, the killer, a young psychopath named Brady Hartsfield, begins sending him taunting emails, forcing Hodges to unofficially reopen the case and try to catch the killer himself. This is the year of Stephen King adaptations, with the new version of It in cinemas, and new series The Mist on Netflix, so we’re hoping this one will bring the requisite mix of chills and thrills.
Monday, TV3, 11pm
Laura is a young teacher on the rebound from a relationship; Andrew is a renowned, widowed surgeon whose son attends Laura’s school; both are attracted to each other – what can possibly go wrong? Quite a lot, you’ll not be surprised to hear. When their first date ends in an allegation of sexual assault, the fallout affects family and friends – and threatens to destroy lives. Liar is a new thriller series written by Jack and Harry Williams, the whiz-bang brothers behind The Missing and recent BBC series Rellik, so expect the unexpected. Joanne Froggatt from Downton Abbey plays Laura, with Ioan Gruffudd from Fantastic Four as Andrew.
Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm
What happens when you’ve been released from prison after years of incarceration for a crime you did not commit? Do you just shrug your shoulders and get on with your cruelly interrupted life?
For many exonerated prisoners, it’s not so easy to forgive and forget – picking up the pieces again requires enormous strength and effort. Fallout (Thursday, RTÉ One, 10.15pm) looks at the lives of four people whose cases became known around the world: Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six; Peter Pringle, the last man sentenced to death in Ireland; Sunny Jacobs, who spent 17 years on death row in the US and is now married to Pringle; and Robert Brown, who served 25 years in the UK before being cleared. The programme focuses on the mental and economic fallout from their wrongful convictions, and how they’ve channelled their anger into activism and advocacy, such as the centre set up by Pringle and Jacobs in Connemara, and Hill’s Mojo organisation.
The Russell Howard Hour
Thursday, Sky One, 10pm
The world is in turmoil. Dark forces are on the rise, and old certainties are no longer, er, certain. We need a brave comedian to make sense (or nonsense) out of this crazy tangle of global politics. The Russell Howard Hour (Thursday, Sky One, 10pm) sees the stand-up comedian tackle the burning issues of the day, from Brexit to Trump, from Putin to Kim Jong-Un, with help from some experts and celebrity guests. Call it Russell Howard’s Bad News. Amazing that no other comedian has thought of doing topical comedy – this could kick off a trend.