Best TV for Autumn was not difficult to write as this year Autumn brings with it more reasons to hunker down and enjoy what is on the TV. There are some terrific series available now and some coming soon. With the reality of some long evenings ahead of us I have tried to pick a good cross section of viewing.
We watched this whole series, created by David Hare, on iPlayer even though it is currently running on BBC. The reason is that Hugh Laurie is outstanding as the self-made, forceful and charismatic politician, Peter Laurence, positioned in the cabinet as Minister for Transport whose public and private life seems to be falling apart – or rather is being picked apart by his enemies.
Helen McCrory plays an immaculate and manipulative Prime Minister. It is very well-cast with Sidse Babett Knudsen playing Peter Laurence’s mistress who I remember playing the Danish Prime Minister in Borgen, another outstanding political thriller. Patricia Hodge is the newspaper owner, Lady Roche, and there are many other well-known actors and actresses. I spent the first episode trying to remember where I had seen them before. Good game to keep the memory working!
Four people, one building, many lives. When life happens, you just have to deal with it. From the world of Doctor Foster. Actors including Alison Steadman, Victoria Hamilton and Adrian Lester lead the ensemble cast of Mike Bartlett’s new drama.
As we follow the lives of each of these inhabitants, their stories “unfold and intertwine in surprising ways”. Living under the same roof, you’ve got a struggling pilates teacher, an older couple, a grieving teenager, a young couple with a baby – and more.
Us is a BBC One four-part television comedy series based on the book Us by English author David Nicholls and adapted by him for the screen. The series stars Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves as a married couple, the Petersens. The story follows Douglas, the father, who tries to win back the love of Connie, his frustrated wife of twenty five years, during their “holiday of a lifetime” touring Europe, after she tells him that now their son Albie is about to leave home for University, she also wants to leave.
LOVE LIFE (ON IPLAYER)
In the 10 half-hour episodes of Love Life – created and written by Sam Boyd – Kendrick (who also executive produced) stars as Darby Carter, whose millennial misadventures in both the love and the life we follow at the rate of roughly one per instalment, moves through New York and her post-grad 20s and on into her 30s. So the opening episode has her in 2012 hoping for the kind of relationship in which, as narrator Lesley Manville explains in voiceover, you don’t have to change into a new outfit to meet up. “You just wear what you’re wearing because you are who you are.”
This is a light romcom but good binge watching when
EMILY IN PARIS
This is an American comedy-drama and a bit of escapism. The series stars Lily Collins as the titular character, Emily, an American woman moving to Paris for a job opportunity. It is a little unrealistic as Emily seems too young to be sent to do this job but do we really always want reality. Right now a bit of fantasy is just what I need so I am watching this for a break from our current lives.
THIS IS US
This is the ultimate to keep you entertained if you are facing a winter of isolation or lockdown. There are four seasons, 18 episodes in each season, and season 5 coming in November. The series follows the lives and families of two parents, and their three children, in several different time frames. It is heartwarming and and an emotional rollercoaster.
HENRY VIII: RISE OF A TYRANT
I know, yet another TV programme about Henry VIII. Surely there is nothing we don’t know about this historical giant. But there are new documents uncovered – letters from Wolsey which if you are a Tudor fan will not disappoint. Most of the newspaper TV critics did not rate this series very highly but I found it easy watching with a different insight into why Henry was so insecure and became such a tyrant.
THE SAME SKY (Walter Presents)
If you’re a fan of Deutschland 83, then your new spy thriller obsession starts here.
It’s East Germany in the 1970s, and Lars Weber is a “Romeo agent”; his task is to go West and seduce and spy on women who work in government or defence institutions. A young talent only just emerging from his espionage training programme, Lars is assigned the case of Lauren Faber, a data analyst for the British Secret Service at the Devil’s Mountain listening station. Under the strict, sceptical and somewhat twisted guidance of his handler Ralf Müller, Lars quickly proves his talent, making his first steps into Lauren’s wary and formerly closed-off psyche.
The director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, himself grew up in the 1970s and was a member of the Communist Party youth wing, which set up “friendship” trips to meet their counterparts in East Germany.
MOSCOW NOIR (Walter Presents)
A stylish, icily beautiful modern noir, WALTER PRESENTS: MOSCOW NOIR will follow one rich, young investment banker’s fall from the high life of a rich expat into the moral sewers of modern Moscow…
It’s 1999, the height of the Wild East, where post-communist chaos means that only one law reigns: money. A risky deal plunges the Swedish Tom Blixen into a battle between millionaires, oligarchs and their private armies. He is dragged into a mystery whose layers reveal themselves like a Babushka doll, leaving death – his own and his loved ones – only one step behind. As fact and fiction converge, Tom finds himself in a world of ghosts, both living and dead. But the most haunting ghost of all is still inside him…
Created by multi-award winner Mikael Håfström, this pulsating yet quietly profound thriller unravels as both a snapshot of a unique place and time, as well as a parable for our own extreme and unpredictable times today.
The most expensive German TV production ever lavishly recreates 1929 Berlin, from horrifying slums to glamorous nightclubs, supplying a rich backdrop for this police drama. Lotte Ritter – a street-smart girl from the wrong side of the tracks – secures secretarial work at the police station, but ends up assisting uptight, PTSD-suffering Inspector Gereon Rath in investigating an extortion ring where politicians are filmed with prostitutes, and then in the case of smuggled gold and chemical weapons from Russia. Season three focuses on a series of grisly murders at a film studio. The wars, of course, cast shadows over everything – both the traumatic legacy of WWI, and the rising spectre of the Nazis and WWII – making for a tense film-noir setting where the hedonism of the cabarets feels like the last, desperate party before it all comes crashing down. Stylish, riveting stuff.
THE CROWN SEASON 4
I don’t think I need to say anything about this series
Away is an American science fiction drama streaming television series, starring Hilary Swank.
Swank is Emma Green, the commander of a five-strong international team of astronauts and scientists embarking on a three-year mission to become the first humans to set foot on Mars. Things go wrong, a lot. Emma’s teenage daughter, Lex, is troubled by the fact that her mother is going to spend three years away from home on a mission that only has a 50/50 chance of survival; her husband, Matt, whom she refers to as “Shithead” – apparently affectionately – has a health condition that makes her absence tougher.
The second series has been cancelled which is disappointing for fans.
ENOLA HOLMES: (FILM)
Enola Holmes is a 2020 mystery film based on the first book in the series of the same name by Nancy Springer. The story is about the teenage sister of the already-famous Sherlock Holmes, who goes to London in search of her mother who has disappeared. While searching for her missing mother, intrepid teen Enola Holmes uses her sleuthing skills to outsmart big brother Sherlock and help a runaway lord.
So much Best TV this Autumn and as it looks like the only entertainment available to all of us you may want pace yourself as TV companies must be struggling to make dramas with all the Covid-19 restrictions.
For earlier TV reviews click HERE – most of these are still on iPlayer etc.