What to watch on TV this week
From the return of Martin Clunes in Manhunt: The Night Stalker to horror filmmaker Mike Flanagan's new series Midnight Mass, this week in TV is awash with genre gems
It’s often difficult when a comedy actor ventures into dark dramas – just look at Steve Coogan in Stephen. But considering 9 million viewers tuned in for ITV’s true-crime drama Manhunt in 2019, its star Martin Clunes (Men Behaving Badly, Have I Got News For You) clearly did something right. In the sequel series The Night Stalker, Clunes reprises his role as the real-life detective Colin Sutton – upon whose books the series is based.
This case follows the notorious South London serial rapist and burglar Delroy Grant. Grant is suspected of over 100 assaults against elderly women between 1992 and 2009. He was arrested following Operation Minstead, the largest rape investigation ever carried out by the Met Police. The Night Stalker tells that story.
The horror filmmaker and showrunner Mike Flanagan isn’t often considered in the same league as Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar) or Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse), but he deserves to be. Flanagan is more conventional, perhaps, but his output is as frightening and remarkable. In the space of three years, he’s provided two Hauntings (Hill House and Bly Manor) with a decent Shining sequel wedged in between – capturing the dark hearts of many.
Now, he’s back with a brand-new story. Midnight Mass is a limited Netflix series set in a tight-knit island community with strong religious ties. The already-existing divisions on Crockett Island are exacerbated with the arrival of a disgraced man and a charismatic priest. These events coincide with seemingly miraculous events, inflating the religious hysteria.
This century birthed a new era for on-screen epic fantasy: the 2000s opened with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Game of Thrones came 10 years later. However, it’s rare to find anything in the genre that isn’t transparently derivative – as good as the stories may be. Cue David Lowery, best known for A Ghost Story – his experimental, $100,000 rumination on grief.
For his new film The Green Knight, based on the 14th-century epic poem, Lowery has $22 million to play with. This could be one of the most original fantasies made in a long while.
The story follows Gaiwan (Dev Patel), a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table and a potential heir to the kingdom. He’s a lost and hedonistic soul, despises the fact that he has no story to tell. But his magical mother (Sarita Choudhury) cures that by summoning the Green Knight (Ralph Ineson), a tree-like humanoid who proposes a very existential quest.
Year after year, television proves how much muscle it has over every other medium. What other artform could Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels (a sprawling, seven-book series) be adapted properly? The scale of Asimov’s universe is extraordinary, taking place over 1000 years in a future Galactic Empire. There have been years of talks over a potential franchise, but nothing substantial germinated. Now, though, AppleTV+’s Foundation could become one of the most vivid, immersive and epic sci-fi dramas of all time.
In this massive Galactic Empire, spread across the Milky Way, the mathematician Dr Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) proposes that said Empire is on the road to ruin. A new Dark Age is on the way, and he assembles a team of rebels to preserve the spirit of humanity.
In times like these, you can always rely on Bake-Off to provide a sweet and tasty piece of escapism. When it’s gone, even if just for a week, the dread of the real world comes creeping up again. Thankfully, it’s back for the next 10 Tuesdays with Jo Brand’s Extra Slice adjoining on Fridays.
Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood return as the judges, with Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas presenting. A dozen new bakers enter the tent, prepping for Cake Week. In the signature, they’re told to make 12 perfect mini-rolls. In the technical, they reproduce a teatime classic. And in the climactic showstopper, they have to create cakes that bend the laws of physics.
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