Television drama is starting to fight back in the war with reality TV. Sunday night’s The Musketeers (BBC ONE) continues to swordfight and pistol its way in and out of trouble, though its casting, set and costume design make it very difficult to decide if it’s set in pre-revolutionary France or post-apocalyptic Sheffield.
And Porthos is increasingly looking like an extra from Duran Duran’s 1984 Wild Boys video. But it’s all rollicking good fun - and there’s nothing else on Sunday night at the moment, so it has the last-bit-of-telly-of-the-weekend slot to itself.
“I sometimes wonder, Jonathan, exactly what I married: free admission for life to the Twilight Zone?” So exclaims Jonathan Creek’s wife, Polly (played by Sarah Alexander), after witnessing this week’s accidental murderer hang herself at the theatre. Alan Davies’ quirky Jonathan Creek (BBC ONE) is the polar opposite of Sherlock, deft and underplayed. Creek seems not to notice the mysteries he’s solving, where as high-functioning sociopath Sherlock has to tell every detail to everyone. It’s also refreshing to find producers brave enough to cram quality drama into an hour slot rather that dragging out the same content for two.
In police drama Line of Duty (BBC TWO) things are just not as straightforward as the mystery world of Creek. Poor Lindsay is wrongly locked up on the set of the 1980’s Australian soap Prisoner Cell Block H, but you can’t help but feel she deserves it for other misdemeanours anyway. Meanwhile the equally dishonest pairing of Arnott and Flemming are trying to save their own necks. “Maybe there are some people out there who always tell the truth and those who always lie - the rest of us choose our moments. This is one of them,” says Arnott - possibly the only honest thing said the whole night. The show is in desperate need of at least one redeeming character before we all decide not to care.
Hidden away on Thursday evening is legal drama Suits (Dave). Now in its third series, Suits is slick, sexy, well-written and with great characterisation. I only know three other people who watch it. So please, if you’re also a secret Suits viewer, let us know - we need seven of us to ensure series four gets made.
Reality TV hasn’t completely thrown in the towel. Jeremy “I love that car” Clarkson and the Top Gear (BBC TWO) team are going strong. And I can’t have been the only middle-aged man to have drooled over the Mercedes 6x6 G-Wagon driven through the Emirates’ desert by Richard Hammond.
There was even more middle-age male indulgence in The Joy of Vinyl (BBC FOUR) - an entertaining documentary which presented a series of men-of-a-certain-age who had clearly listened to too much vinyl eulogising about the 7” disc. You just know that if the house was on fire, the kids and the dog would have to save themselves.
And finally, the nuclear option of reality TV is back. The Only Way Is Essex (ITV2) - aka TOWIE. Part reality TV, part soap, part 1960s Thunderbirds puppets, TOWIE is...indescribable. If you look carefully though, you might even think they are real people. It’s only when they speak that really gives it away. I managed three minutes of it before I started to lose consciousness and the will to live.