The Week on TV: DI Ray; The staircase; The dry; Prisoner C33 | Television
Radius ID (ITV) | itv.com
The staircase (Atlantic Sky) | sky.com
The dry (BritBox) | britbox.co.uk
Prisoner C33 (BBC Four) | iPlayer
At some point, television will reach a saturation state of crime shows and the entire genre will crumble into a subscriber-only gurgling abyss. For now there is ITV Radius IDthe latest of several female-led series – Vigil, Trigger point – of Course of action stable production (Jed Mercurio is considered a secret feminist). Created and written by Maya Sondhi (Course of actionby PC Bindra), Radius ID lasted four consecutive nights last week, with Parminder Nagra (play it like Beckham, Emergency room) as Detective Inspector Rachita Ray.
Yes Radius ID has a theme, which is that racism, overt and veiled, leaves sticky footprints everywhere. After Ray soothes a psychotic, knife-wielding Asian man, she is promoted to the serious crimes unit of her Birmingham police department by a pale, stale superintendent (Ian Puleston-Davies) who asks her to where she comes from. A strange and awkward moment: you would have hoped, these days, that such an out-of-touch clown would be forcibly relegated to early retirement. Just as in a supermarket, Ray is mistaken for a storekeeper, at work, her superior (Gemma Whelan) talks about “culturally specific homicides”. As Ray sighs to her fiancé (Jamie Bamber): “They all know I was made to tick a box.”
I ended up liking Sondhi’s stereotype-trampling wit more than the story: a convoluted tale that pointedly belied hackneyed racial tropes (honour killing), but then meandered down other predictable alleyways. , such as human trafficking. As the episodes progressed, it started to feel like an extended “social issue” episode of The law project. Good actors (Whelan, Steve Oram), devoid of lines or agency, stand as human sets. The “twist” is so marked that it practically has satnav. That said, I love DI Ray herself. Nagra hits uncomfortable, all-too-human notes – sour, bubbling, deflated – reminiscent of Sarah Lancashire in happy valley. In terms of characterization, he deserves another outing.
Watch the opening trio of available episodes of Sky Atlantic’s new eight-part series the staircase, a dramatization of a Netflix crime documentary of the same name, one thought keeps pounding: “Is this just for Kathleen Peterson?” But then, were there any? Played by Toni Collette, Kathleen – believed to have been murdered by her novelist husband Michael (Colin Firth) in 2001 – is found bloodied at the bottom of the stairs of their mansion in Durham, North Carolina. There are flashbacks describing the death, first as an “accident” and then as murder, and the obligatory mortuary blows of his shaved and gassed head. At one point, the Petersons have “rimming” sex against a kitchen island.
While shedding light on their erotic married life, would Kathleen have wanted this to be represented? Murder victims are inevitably relegated to corpses and flashbacks in the drama, but there are times when Kathleen feels exposed, exploited and, worse, secondarya narrative ghost in its own story.
Created by Antonio Campos, so far The staircase works best when it focuses on the interfamily fallout of this infamously complex and drawn-out case (Michael Peterson was first convicted, then released after a new trial that ended in a plea deal with him still proclaiming his innocence). First privileged, then fractured, the family – some convinced of their guilt – is portrayed beautifully, especially the couple’s adult children, played by Olivia DeJonge, Sophie Turner and Patrick Schwarzenegger. Michael Peterson was bisexual and The staircase is also strong on the homophobic and messy aspects of the case.
I’m less caught up in the recurring focus on making the original series. (Its director, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, co-produced and performed by Vincent Vermignon.) While the documentary had a huge impact, here it’s rather overplayed and complacent, and you end up saying to yourself: get over yourself. . Juliette Binoche, as a television editor whose involvement becomes personal, is so painfully misinterpreted that she becomes borderline unobservable. Collette does her best with a stunted role, while Firth is almost too good as the nervous, self-absorbed, and often hateful suspect. Maybe like me, you’ll end up squirming in your seat, once again feeling intensely irritated by Michael Peterson.
On BritBox, an eight-episode Irish gem shimmers in the dramatic glow. Created and written by Nancy Harris (director of the Bafta-nominated film Appointment), directed by Paddy Breathnach, The dry stars Roisin Gallagher (The fall) as the artist Shiv, who returns to his family in Ireland to continue overcoming his addiction to alcohol. “I’m 35 and I’m not where I thought I was,” she laments.
At first glance, it looks like someone put thematic tracing paper on Aisling Bea This way until – addiction, a bickering sister (Siobhán Cullen) – but The dry charts its own path. Shiv tries to own her mess, but she’s not above sulking when people remind her. Ciarán Hinds and Pom Boyd are ironically wonderful as parents. Adam Richardson, as Shiv’s brother, delivers the funniest and most angry gay character since It’s a sin. Moe Dunford plays a naughty ex, always giving Shiv trouble: “Give me a shout out when you’re back on the sauce.” Full of wit and bite, The dry speaks of addiction and the specter of relapse, but also of hope, despair and the dead weight of family history. Well worth a look.
For Oscar Wilde aficionados, there’s the BBC Four Solo Play Prisoner C33. Written by Stuart Paterson, directed by Trevor Nunn, it stars Toby Stephens as a kind of dualistic Bogof of Wildes: the broken convict, imprisoned for homosexuality in Reading Prison, and his famous former self, who appears as a cameo for comfort, spur and inspire.
The horror of the cell conditions is quickly established with an overflowing bucket of Wilde’s bodily effluence (survivors of the festival’s portable toilets may find this scene triggering). From there, the two Wildes meditate together on sexuality, persecution, memories, regrets, human nature, with Wilde finally getting rid of “Prisoner C33” to reconnect with his true self.
At times his famous epigrams and themes seem rather muffled, but overall Stephens is brilliant: passionate and moving. Wilde died just three years after his release from Reading, and Prisoner C33 works almost like a weird reworking of A Christmas Carol: a visitation heralding a vital lesson, but this time for all of society.
What else am I watching
The Terror: Infamy
This is the second release in the American quasi-supernatural anthology series. The first, starring Jared Harris as a doomed starship captain, has become a cult classic. This series focuses on Japanese Americans held in POW camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The United States Circle
If it’s possible to be accidentally dystopian, then that’s what The circle is: a reality TV series imitating all your social media nightmares (emojis, catfish, cancellations). In this American version, the Spice Girls Mel B and Emma Bunton appear in disguise.
Imagine… 2022: Jacob Collier: In the room where it happens
Alan Yentob profiles the London-born, multi-genre musician-producer in his twenties, who won Grammys for his first four albums, surpassing The Beatles. Tribute is paid to the fusion prodigy by Quincy Jones and Chris Martin.