Disappointing all star miniseries as eight interlinked separate stories explore climate change over the century and its impact on everyday lives.

Beginning in 2037, the first episode sets the foundations for the series with wildfires, floods, water shortage, mass migration and ecosystem collapse. Tel Aviv (COP37) and Antarctica are the settings with Bilton Industries (Kit Harington) set to be the corporate bad guys: Bilton has the technology to help the water shortage but profit and the shareholders are placed before environmental concerns. And that concept continues as the global temperatures continue to increase as the polar caps melt and the sea levels rise.

The science of climate change as the decades pass remains throughout the eight stories – but it’s the impact on the everyday that is prevalent. By 2046 it’s not safe to go outside for many without protective covering and breathing apparatus; in 2047, a synagogue in Miami looks to win the political battle to move premises as the rising water levels encroach on the building.

It’s a pretty bleak series exploring the cost of ignorance and ‘quick-fix’ policies as Bilton continues to be seen as a great leader in tech and innovation, yet at what cost? Kit Harington is one of the few characters present in more than one storyline – but how much of a saviour is his billions of dollars?

Extrapolations is a classy miniseries – but then boasting the likes of Meryl Streep, Marion Cotillard, Tahar Rahim, Edward Norton, Forest Whittaker et al , it’s exactly what you would expect. Sadly, quality may be there in bucketloads but consistency of narrative and storytelling is not. From the engaging episode 5 (2059) set in Mumbai and starring Adarsh Gourav and Gaz Choudhry as two small-time smugglers to the excess of episode 4 (also 2059) where brilliant inventor Indira Varma has created a pilotless, solar-powered plane, Extrapolations strives to deliver but generally falters when it moves outside the intimate of the everyday.

Rating: 54%

‘The Devil’s Hour’

A mysterious criminal with a unique relationship with time: a woman who awakens every night at 3.33am having experienced terrifying nightmares: a young boy with an intense social disorder. The Devil’s Hour is a six part supernatural-tinged drama full of suspense and unexpected plot developments.

Lucy (Jessica Raine) is a social worker with a heavy caseload yet she herself visits a child psychologist – her own eight-year son Isaac (Benjamin Chivers) is cold, withdrawn and devoid of any emotion. So much so the boy’s father Mike (Phil Dunster) has left, unable to cope with the emotional vacuum. Inexplicably, Lucy. dogged by terrifying nightmares, finds herself linked to a serial killer, Gideon Shepherd (Peter Capaldi), who has seemingly been active for several decades.

Over six episodes, The Devil’s Hour is a confusion of engaging uncertainties where nothing is quite what it seems. Wallpaper in one house appears in another, homeowners interchangeable as Lucy tries to protect Isaac and understand what is going on. It’s the arrested Gideon who holds the key – and in the interrogation room, he will only talk to Lucy. DI Ravi Dhillon (Nikesh Patel), in charge of the case, is more than happy to include Lucy in the challenge of the outside the norm investigation.

There’s an inevitability to similarities of other psychological dramas. But, bolstered by an excellent determined yet vulnerable Raine, The Devil’s Hour expertly dips in and out of memory and time, creating an engrossing supernatural narrative.

Rating: 71%

‘Conviction: the Murder of Stephen Lawrence’

A three part dramatisation, it took 18 years for the family of the murdered London teenager to finally achieve some kind of justice.

When DCI Clive Driscoll (Steve Coogan) inadvertently comes across a mass of seemingly abandoned case files, his curiosity results in the reopening of Stephen Lawrence murder case of 13 years earlier. A racially motivated attack had resulted in the black 18 year old being killed whilst waiting for a bus in south London.

Carefully revisiting evidence and attempting to reinterview witnesses and family members, Driscoll discovers police ineptitude and corruption as Stephen’s high-profile mother, Doreen Lawrence (Sharlene Whyte) continues to campaign for justice and wider anti-racism. With new technology available to assess evidence, Driscoll overcomes racism, internal stonewalling and the retirement of many of the investigating team to piece together new evidence in an attempt to charge some, if not all, of the five assailants.

It’s a respectful, moving and shocking three part dramatisation quietly and procedurally told as an embarrassed Driscoll works closely with an initially suspicious Doreen and ex-husband, Neville (Hugh Quarshie) now living in Jamaica. Two previous attempts had resulted in dashed hopes as evidence failed to convict. It still takes five years to bring charges against individuals who were the chief suspects 18 years earlier.

Rating: 66%

‘Queen Charlotte – a Bridgerton Story’

Bridgerton 3: a six part season providing a Bridgerton backdrop to Queen Charlotte’s marriage to George III and the social ‘experiment’ instigated by Dowager Princess Augusta and a reluctant parliament.

There’s only a smattering of Bridgerton regulars in season three as the majority of the narrative focuses on the arrival in London of teenage Charlotte (India Amarteifio) and the early years of her marriage to George (Corey Mylchreest). Bethrothed to George against her wishes, Charlotte is not happy. As we already know, things are not quite right in the royal household. But Queen Charlotte – a Bridgerton Story is set several decades before seasons one and two. As the older Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) struggles to secure succession from her many adult children, so she is reminded of the early days of marriage.

With George’s mother, Dowager Princess Augusta (Michelle Fairley) herself struggling with parliament to ensure the royal succession, the arranged marriage looks good for all concerned. Assuming Charlotte to be a passive minor German royal of good child bearing stock, as a black woman she is also perfect for the ‘experiment’ of social integration. But Charlotte is anything but passive and soon challenges royal protocol and prerogative. Expect plenty of clashes between mother and daughter-in-law, husband and wife, king’s valet (Reynolds – Freddie Dennis) and queen’s valet, Brimsley (Sam Clemmett) as Charlotte discovers she’s actually in love with her husband.

It’s a fun ride, interspersed with that of the elevation of the Danburys to the aristocracy – the first titled black family. Lady Agatha Danbury (Arsema Thomas) and Queen Charlotte become firm friends but Lord Danbury’s early death throws a spanner into the works regarding succession.

For fans of Bridgerton (and there are many!) invested in the characters, season three provides historical backstories to the three senior women of the series – Queen Charlotte (a personal favourite), Lady Agatha Danbury (Adjoa Anode) and Lady Violet Ledger Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell). But to be honest, like the first two seasons, it could have been achieved so much quicker. There’s a little too much of a young sulky/angry Charlotte eating alone or regaling Brimsley. The result is a somewhat repetitive narrative. But it’s lightweight entertainment well told exceptionally well cast – and it throws in social commentary of contemporary issues (racism, homophobia, sex, republicanism) for good measure.

Rating: 58%

Bridgerton Season 1

Bridgerton Season 2

‘The Recruit’ (Season 1)

In his first week in the legal department of the CIA, Owen Hendricks finds himself increasingly involved in dangerous international power politics that threaten the lives of all Eastern European agents and their contacts.

A routine task for the newest recruit – checking the veracity of mailed threats to the agency – results in Hendricks (Noah Centineo) dispatched to Phoenix and a women’s prison to assess former Russian asset Max Meladz’s (Laura Haddock) threats to divulge CIA secrets to the public. Hendricks believes its real and finds himself representing her back at Langley to convince Walter Nyland (Vondie Curtis-Hall) his department chief.

It’s the beginning of a thrilling cat and mouse espionage thriller as the seasoned Max looks to return home after several years in the US – but she needs millions of dollars as payment to buy her way back into the game. She needs help: the CIA all the way up to the White House have to determine whether that help is forthcoming and whether Max would be a reliable asset. But for a start they need to get her out of prison, sentenced as she is for murder.

The Recruit is high stake thrills from Doug Limon, director/producer of the Jason Bourne saga, but which also sees the Washington house-sharing domesticity of Hendricks and the backstory of Max’s arrival in the States. Arrogant but naive, the new recruit makes mistakes, both at home and at work, but his strut carries the day – and the manipulative Max trusts him. So much so, more experienced and calculating operatives – particularly take-no-prisoners Angel Parker (Dawn Gilbane) with her own agenda – are releuctantly forced to work with him.

It’s a charismatic, well-paced if flawed eight episode ride with that balance of thrills and domesticity. Hendricks obviously still has feelings for housemate and ex-girlfriend, Hannah (Fivel Stewart) and she, along with third housemate, Terence (Daniel Quincy Annoh), are innocently drawn into the world of secrets. But there’s no innocence about assassin gone rogue Max as the action flips from US soil to Europe.

Rating: 68%

‘The Responder’ (Season 1)

Heavy-duty, gritty Scouse (Liverpudlian) police crime series as Chris, an on-the-edge policeman and former detective, struggles to focus on a drug bust escalating out of control.

Written by former Merseyside first responder Tony Schumacher, there’s no doubting the authenticity of this five part series. Chris (a superb Martin Freeman) is a burnt out wreck, a man struggling with family and the honesty and responsibility of being a policeman in Liverpool. He’s not one hundred percent straight himself, with best mate from school, Carl Sweeney (Ian Hart), a local crime boss. A few tip offs have certainly gone Sweeney’s way. So when a very large stash of heroin gets stolen by local junkie Casey (Emily Fairn), there’s the assumption that Chris will quickly deal with it and return the goods to its rightful owner.

Nothing’s quite that straightforward as Chris starts to question his loyalties, not helped by the seasoned copper forced to partner with new recruit, Rachel (Adelayo Adedayo) who has her own personal problems. Pulled in all directions, an immensely likeable Chris with his vulnerabilities, his moral contradictions, his compromises and his anxieties makes rash decision after rash decision that have far-reaching consequences.

Rating: 69%

‘The Last of Us’ (Season 1)

A dystopian future as, with most of civilisation having being wiped out by a virus, a 14 year girl appears to be the only hope.

Marshall law controls the individual, heavily armed quarantine zones established to protect survivors from the infected. The mutated fungus Cordyceps resulted in aggressive, murderous creatures that are no longer human. Cities in particular were hardest hit with people forced to survive almost hand to mouth under the control of the ruthless FEDRA. Inevitably, the black market booms and, under such social control by armed troops, with it the rise of rebellious groups. The organised Fireflies is the main (armed) opponent.

Maverick smugglers Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Tess (Anna Torv) find themselves tasked with helping teenager Ellie (Bella Ramsey) out of the quarantine zone as ‘requested’ by Fireflies leader, Marlene (Merle Dandridge). But the relatively straightforward liaison at the Boston City Hall with a secondary Fireflies unit develops, instead, into a dangerous trek cross country. Ellie must reach a quarantine zone and safe place in Ohio – and Joel needs to ensure she does not fall into the wrong hands or get killed along the way.

Based on a smash hit video game, The Last of Us is a surprisingly and unexpectedly successful adaptation. In spite of its genesis as an all-action adventure, the series is sensitive to character development. Joel, still grieving the loss of his daughter in the early days of the pandemic, is steely and tough yet vulnerable. He is initially driven by the chance of being reunited with his brother, Tommy (Gabriel Luna), who is likely to be at the Ohio quarantine zone. But as the two survive everything that comes their way, so Joel comes to respect his charge.

The Last of Us is ultimately about love and loss and how to survive – yet, strangely, the most extraordinary single episode narrative is that of Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett). Theirs is a tenuous link to the intrepid pair but within the series, a tale of two (older) men somehow finding love within the safe confines of a fortified picket-fenced town is unlikely yet deeply affecting.

In its 10-episode season, in terms of story and plotlines, the first game is (according to those who have played the game) followed pretty closely, although the series develops and builds on some aspects. Critics to a tee agree this is the best video game adaptation ever.

Rating: 80%


A two part adaptation of Andrew O’Hagan’s novel of the same name, Mayflies is a tale of longstanding friendship, nostalgia and death.

Glaswegians Tully and Jimmy have been best friends for more than 30 years – even distance with married, successful writer Jimmy (Martin Compston) living in London doing little to diminish that bond. But an unexpected phone call will see Jimmy’s life change. It’s Tully (Tony Curran) – a man who has defined him since those teenage years. They have remained close – but the request from his best mate will challenge that friendship.

Interweaving the present day with the weekend in Manchester and the legendary Festival of the Tenth Summer five 17 year-old Glaswegians attended, Mayflies deftly tells its tale. Not only has Tully terminal cancer but he refuses chemotherapy. Even long-term girlfriend Anna (Ashley Jensen) cannot change his determination. With limited time, friendship and love are pitched against each other as Anna feels excluded from decisions being made by the two men.

It’s heartfelt in its telling as Jimmy finds himself between a rock and hard place – supporting his best mate yet doing things he does not agree with, the result of which distances him from Anna. Wife Iona (Tracy Ifeachor) provides much needed stability.

Based on a true story and O’Hagan’s own personal experience, Mayflies is unassuming and compassionate, nuanced and tender – even if somewhat cliched and lacking a more fleshed-out backstory.

Rating: 64%

‘The Leftovers’ (Seasons 1-3)

When 2% of the world’s population inexplicably disappear, one small town in the State of New York attempts to continue as normal as possible.

14 October 2014 – the day of the Sudden Departure. A crying baby in a car, a mother pushing a shopping trolley, a driver of a car wending its way through town – gone. Accidents worldwide, families torn apart. No explanation. Mapleton, New York is no different.

Three years later, attempted normality is a stop/start affair. But its an unstable world lacking understanding or acceptance of events linked to the Sudden Departure. Religious/spiritual cults and groups have risen – including The Guilty Remnant where its members have given up talking, taken up smoking and are ambivalent about life and survival. The Mapleton sect is led by Patti Levin (Ann Dowd, pre-The Handmaid’s Tale).

Over the next three seasons, Mapleton Police Chief Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) and Nora Durst (Carrie Coon), a woman who lost her husband and two children, grapple with understanding and finding answers. Their journey takes them beyond small town upstate New York to Texas (season two) and, finally, Melbourne and the Australian outback.

Character-driven, The Leftovers is at its best when it explores the emotional scars of the Sudden Departure: Garvey struggles not only with the loss of his wife Laurie (Amy Brenneman) to The Guilty Remnant but also an angry teenage daughter Jill (Margaret Qualley) and absent son, Tom (Chris Zylka). Durst is constantly looking for answers, expecting her brother Reverend Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston) to provide.

It’s an intriguing if at times infuriating series that, as the narrative progresses, becomes increasingly obscure. From the rise of spiritual groups and cults to the Texan town of Jarden (now a place of pilgrimage that has resulted in access being seriously controlled) that remained unaffected by the Sudden Departure, The Leftovers flirts with religion and spirituality. But its ultimately a human interest story as characters come and go over the three seasons – with the Australian narrative drawing closer to the truth and the possibilities of finding and perhaps understanding what happened several years earlier. It’s undoubtedly weird as we experience the physical, emotional and spiritual responses of the Sudden Departure and its long-term ramifications but as a cerebral experience, The Leftovers over its 28 episodes has few competitors. But whether its ultimately satisfying is a different question.

Rating: 69%

‘The Walk-In’

As far right and neo-fascist activity in the UK increases due to political unrest amidst the Brexit referendum, the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox shocks the nation. The action of an individual, the fascist group National Action seizes the moment to promote further racial unrest.

With violence and strife an everyday occurence, activist Matthew Collins (Stephen Graham) of Hope not Hate, himself a former member of the British National Party, looks to ways of infiltrating the group. Seen as a grass and turncoat, Collins and his family are targets by former colleagues and are constantly forced to move home. But Collins is determined to expose the membership, made the more difficult when the British government outlaw National Action as a terrorist organisation. Unexpectedly, Hope not Hate is contacted by a new member of NA – Robbie Mullen (Andrew Ellis). Revealing plans to murder a second Labour MP, time is short as HNH fight to protect their source as the police demand his identity.

Based on true events, this five part miniseries is a hard watch, highlighting the ease in which the far-right prey on and convince bigotry and hate. Opinions and language can be difficult to stomach. Yet The Walk-In is patchy, with its (too) slow unravelling building towards the courtroom tension. Crowd scenes are unconvincing and at times the dialogue slips into agit prop tropes. But the saving grace is a cast where Graham is excellent (as always) as is Leanne Best as his supportive but pushed-to-the-edge wife, Alison, whilst Ellis captures the vulnerability and fear of Mullen.

Rating: 62%