David Strathairn

McMafia S1 E1-5 (BBC One)

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After the overload of confectionery sweetness of light entertainment and festive specials over Christmas, the television networks have decided to serve up something more substantial for the New Year with a veritable glut of prestige drama series on offer. ITV has old favourites Vera and Endeavour back on our screens, together with the new offering Girlfriends from the prolific and ever-reliable Kay Mellor.

Yesterday we looked at the high concept offering Hard Sun. Meanwhile, over on Sunday nights BBC One has inserted a bold, uncompromisingly gritty drama about international crime rings. Based on a novel by Misha Glenny and adapted by Hossein Amini and James Watkins, McMafia is the story of successful banker Alex Godman. Read the rest of this entry »

Alphas S1

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The latest attempt to bring the X-Men super-mutant concept to the small screen, after Heroes’ stunning first season success and subsequent rapid burn-out was followed by the so-so An Ordinary Family. This time the super-powered mutants are positioned as a crime-fighting unit working for the US Department of Defense. Their powere are scaled down and hence more realistic than their forebears – superstrength, super sight/hearing/smell, super-coordination – and hence more realistic and easier (and cheaper) to depict. The show has a real coup in the casting of David Strathairn as the team leader who brings genuine class and believability, and the group as a whole is likeable. British-actor-playing-American Ryan Cartwright (late of Mad Men and Bones) gets the best character for my money, as the high-functioning autistic Gary whose brain is hardwired into the internet. But the amount of re-tooling that the show has been going through even in these early episodes, and the way they allowed the character of Gary to be repurposed for jokes in a mid-season episode, suggests the show is already fraying around the edges. Despite near-death reports, however, the show has been confirmed for a second series by SyFy in the US. Currently airing on the 5* channel on Wednesdays at 10pm.

Part of a week of one-para reviews, designed to (a) put the “Short” back into Taking the Short View; (b) catch up on some past programmes I should have reviewed ages ago; and (c) get my post count back up!