What to watch on TV this week
From the gruelling examination of Dennis Nilsen's conviction in ITV's Des to the BBC's new adaptation of David Nicholls' Booker-nominated Us, this week in TV is dark and emotional
David Tennant has proven, time and time again, that he can do pretty much everything. From The Doctor to Hamlet to the demon Crawley in Good Omens, villains come as naturally to Tennant as heroes. But his latest role as 80s serial killer Dennis Nilsen is a different beast altogether: both banal and terrifying in equal measure.
The three-part ITV drama Des, unfolding from Monday to Wednesday this week, examines Nilsen’s conviction and his subsequent trial. Although he’s the star of the show, most of the focus falls on Detective Peter Jay (Daniel Mays) who investigated the victims, and the posh biographer Brian Masters (Jason Watkins) who interviewed Nilsen for many years.
At first mention, Knockemstiff sounds like an unimaginative, fictional name for a secluded American town. But, yep, it’s a real place – or it was. In The Devil All the Time, it's reanimated for a brutal, bloody family saga spanning from World War II to the Vietnam War. Tom Holland slings his way into the title role – following a web of Avengers movies, playing Spider-Man – as Arvin Russell, a young man fighting to protect his family.
Many just and corrupted characters converge around Arvin: including an unholy preacher played by Robert Pattinson (Tenet), a twisted couple played by Jason Clarke (The Aftermath) and Riley Keough (Under the Silver Lake), and a crooked sheriff played by Sebastian Stan (Avengers: Endgame). Adding to this eclectic cast list, the film also stars Bill Skarsgård (IT), Eliza Scanlen (Babyteeth), and Mia Wasikowski (Judy and Punch).
Possibly the most elusive and experimental show of the year, The Third Day combines mystery TV drama with immersive theatre. In an unlikely collaboration between HBO and Punchdrunk International, this series blurs reality and fantasy to create a newly absorbing experience.
When Sam (Jude Law) travels to a mysterious island, he’s sucked into the lives of the residents and the various rituals that take place. With serious Lost and Wicker Man vibes, The Third Day looks to be the TV event of the season. Emily Watson and Paddy Considine also star.
That well-designed interrogation room returns! The premise of Criminal basically lifts the interrogation scenes from Line of Duty and stretches them into hour-long episodes. The first season was split into 12 self-contained stories for different European countries, three for each nation. Now the UK version has been blessed with a second season, which is even better than the first.
With four new suspects, the Criminal UK team tackles tales of murder, rape, and online grooming. Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones), Sophie Okonedo (Death on the Nile), Sharon Horgan (This Way Up), and Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory) star.
A lot of prequels have the feel of existing purely for marketing purposes. It's clearly a similar case for Ratched, the upcoming prequel for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which traces the origins of the ruthless and authoritarian Nurse Ratched. But like most of the projects created by the fruitful Ryan Murphy (Hollywood, The Politician, American Horror Story), this Netflix series has an explosively colourful intrigue about it.
Arriving in northern California in 1947, Mildred Ratched (Sarah Paulson) seeks employment at a prestigious psychiatric facility, where new and dodgy experiments are being conducted on the human mind. She enters the system and rises inside it.
What if your life is suddenly upended within a single sentence? In Us, this happens to Douglas (Tom Hollander), a middle-aged biochemist who’s a husband and a father of one.
Before he and his family embark on a Grand Tour around
Europe, his wife Connie (Saskia Reeves) suddenly turns to him and says she’s
thinking of leaving him. Seizing an opportunity to rekindle his marriage, he persists
with the Eurotrip while keeping the idea of divorce secret from his son Alfie
(Tom Taylor). As they travel through these famous landmarks, Douglas reflects
on his relationship and the emotional hurdles he and Connie had to overcome.
Us is based on the Booker-longlisted novel by David Nicholls.
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