Seven TV shows to watch this week

From brand new drama on RTÉ to the return of Star Trek and David Simon


Acceptable Risk

Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm

We’ve been waiting for a good, gritty crime series to fill that Love/Hate-shaped hole in our Sunday-night TV viewing, but until then, it might be worth taking a punt on Acceptable Risk.

This six-part thriller is set in Dublin and Montreal, and stars Elaine Cassidy as Sarah Manning, a woman under suspicion for the murder of her husband, who is shot in the head while on a business trip to Montreal. Sarah is devastated by the loss of her beloved husband and stepdad to her kids, but Detective Sergeant Emer Byrne (Angeline Ball) is not convinced that Sarah is entirely innocent. Money is tight in Montrose these days, so Acceptable Risk is an Irish-Canadian co-production with funding from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and finance from international distributors. Let’s hope it’s on the money.

Irish in Wonderland

Thursday, RTÉ Two, 9.30pm

When it comes to Irish abroad, we are only too happy to show the folks back home what they’re missing. Irish in Wonderland is presented by Drogheda-born actor Yasmine Akram, and in the first of a two-part series she meets Irish expats in New York who have grabbed opportunity with both hands and carved out careers catering to the super-rich and famous of the city. Among them is advertising executive Frank McNamara, who set up an exclusive polo club in the Hamptons, helicopter pilot Andrew Woods, who whisks the big stars around in his chopper, financial high-flyer Ronan Ryan, a sort of Irish wolfhound of Wall Street whose story inspired Michael Lewis’s bestselling book Flashboys, and designer Eileen Shields, whose shoes are worn by Angelina Jolie, Gwen Stefani and Halle Berry.

You will experience absolutely no envy as you watch these Irish plying their lucrative trade and reaping the rewards of their talent and entrepreneurship. Now, if any rich New Yorkers are looking to hire a personal TV viewing planner, I’m open to offers.

The Deuce

Tuesday, Sky Atlantic, 9pm

It’s the 1970s, and the streets of New York city are overrun by pimps and prostitutes. As the authorities clamp down on streetwalking, a nascent porn industry springs up in the city’s basement brothels and massage parlours – and some see their opportunity to make a fortune in The Deuce. This eight-part series boasts a seriously glittering cast, led by James Franco in a dual role as hard-grafting bartender Vincent Martino and his freewheeling brother Frankie, who is up to his eyes in gambling debts to the mob. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays veteran streetwalker Candy, who realises there’s more money to be made making porn movies. Is this just a poor TV relation of Boogie Nights? We’ll keep an open mind.

The Child in Time

Sunday, BBC One, 9pm

Benedict Cumberbatch heads another all-star cast in The Child in Time, an adaptation of Ian McEwan’s Whitbread Prize-winning novel. He plays Stephen Lewis, a successful children’s books author, to whom the unthinkable happens: his own four-year-old daughter Kate disappears in a supermarket. As the years go by and hopes fade of ever finding Kate, Stephen and his wife Julie (Kelly McDonald) drift apart and disappear into their own grief – until a ray of hope suddenly breaks through.

Drop Dead Weird

Monday, RTÉ 2, 5.30pm

It’s hard enough being a kid, what with all the homework, hormones and hassles from grown-ups. For the three Champ kids, it’s even harder. The Australian family have just moved to a remote village in the west of Ireland, and are trying to save the family B&B from being repossessed by the bank. They also have a secret – mum and dad are zombies. Drop Dead Weird is a new comedy series for younger viewers – I know our kids could certainly relate to having zombies for parents. The kids must keep local woman Bunni Shanahan (Pauline McLynn) from getting her hands on the B&B, and must also make sure no one in the town discovers their parents’ undead status. The series also stars Moone Boy’s David Rawle, and was shot on location in both Australia and the west of Ireland.

The Pact

Wednesday, BBC Two, 10pm

Teenage friends Amy and Andy have made a pact – if they’re still single when they’re 35, they’ll marry each other. We’ve all done that – haven’t we? When they meet again at 35, Amy is still single, living in bedsits, working in bars, and drifting from one drunken one-night-stand to the next; Andy is divorced with a four-year-old son, and in a new relationship with Kelly. The Pact is a comedy-drama about what happens when you come face to face with your past, and are forced to think hard about your future.

Star Trek: Discovery

Netflix, from Monday

It is now a written law that every generation must have its own Star Trek series. We’ve had the original 1960s series (yes, that was my generation), with The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise all subsequently bearing the Star Trek prefix. Now we have Star Trek: Discovery, set 10 years before events of the original series (as if anyone other than a total trekkie would notice), and featuring a whole new cast of characters from all corners of the galaxy.

Already the trekkiverse is buzzing about some of the radical changes in this series, particularly the redesign of the Klingons (apparently the face-bumps have been moved around a bit), and the shift of focus to the second-in-command (Spock’s human half-sister, apparently) as the central character, rather than traditionally the captain (played by Michelle Yeoh). It should be good, rollicking, spacehopping fun, as the crew of the USS Shenzou navigate a delicate cold war between humans and Klingons that could explode into all-out conflagration at any time.

I’ll stick with Captain Kirk and Mr Spock, though. I’m old-fashioned that way.