27 April 2015

TV Crime Log: Empire, Enfield & Game

EmpireEmpire slips onto our screens with this week with little fanfare, but in the US it has been quite the phenomenon.

It arrived quietly only for the ratings to unprecedentedly rise every week—every single week—until, by the time the first season ended, it was the highest-rating drama for many years. It’s a drama about Empire Enterprises, a fictional hip-hop music company and the family battles for control of it, a kind of gangsta Lear.

Empire is on tomorrow night at 9pm, on E4. That’s the one that’s like More4, but with less Grand Designs.

I’m afraid that for the rest of this post I am obliged to take you back to the 70s, whether you want to go there or not.

Time was, nobody would touch that tired decade with a bargepole. Then along came Life On Mars and everyone remembered how much they loved –- or convinced themselves they loved—clackers and butterscotch Angel Delight, and now it’s quite the place to be. Ah, and how we miss the Cold War—with its Dead Letterboxes, Heathside Safe Houses and those loveable Sleeper Agents next door.

The GameSo I’m looking forward to The Game. It’s a spy drama featuring Brian Cox as Daddy, the Head of MI5. The trailers make it look very Tinker Tailor indeed, with one of those sound-proof rooms made out of egg boxes, brutalist menswear and people smoking, like, a lot.

The blurb is majestic in loons:

London, 1972. When a defecting KGB officer reveals the existence of a devastating Soviet plot by the name of Operation Glass, the charismatic head of MI5 must assemble a secret committee to help protect Britain.

As the Soviets awaken sleeper agents to carry out the plot, the new team are faced with an unidentified and invisible threat.

The first agent reactivated is a civil servant, bullied and blackmailed into working for the KGB. As MI5 scramble to identify his role in Operation Glass, Joe Lambe becomes obsessed with the reappearance of his nemesis, the Soviet agent codenamed Odin.

I think The Game has been sitting around on a shelf somewhere at the BBC for quite a while before being activated –- I hope that doesn’t portend problems. It begins on Thursday at 9pm, on BBC2.

The Enfield HauntingThere’s more dodgy 70s haircuts in The Enfield Haunting. This is the account of –- it says here –- real events that took place in an ordinary house in Enfield in 1977. For whatever reason, a poltergeist kicks off big time. You may remember those sinister photos of girls bouncing up and down on their beds while David Soul smiles blandly from a poster on the wall.

Adapted from Guy Lyon Playfair’s book This House is Haunted, the drama is based on extensive documentation, recordings and witness statements. Its got a top-notch cast, too, including Timothy ‘Turner’ Spall and Matthew ‘Edmund’ Macfadyen

In this age of wall-to-wall cop and lawyer and medical shows, it’s nice to see Sky Living doing something different. It’s on Sunday at 9pm.