Damien Lewis....well worth the wait in superb Wolf Hall drama
One of the most eagerly awaited dramas of the year hit our screens last week on BBC 2 and it didn't disappoint. Wolf Hall - the six part adaption of Hilary Mantel's novel was an hour full of superb acting, compelling drama, intriguing plot and even though Damien Lewis as Henry VIII didn't appear until the last five minutes, it was well worth the wait.
Having not read the book first, it must be said I felt at a distinct disadvantage and thought the central figure of Cromwell was actually Oliver Cromwell until some other character referred to him as Thomas! You need your wits about you to follow the intricate plot if you don't know your history, which I didn't.
In a nutshell it is 1529, although it does go back and forth a bit, but Henry VIII has been married to Katharine of Aragon for 20 years. He is now seeking an annulment of the marriage because she has failed to produce a son and he has set his sights on Anne Boleyn.
It is an amazing cast but is Mark Rylance as Cromwell who steals the show. A relatively unknown actor (to me anyway) he is captivating as the enigmatic Cromwell - a blacksmith's son who becomes the King's Right Hand Man.
Although historically Cromwell is portrayed as cunning and devious - a ruthless scourge of monasteries, the scene where he loses his wife and daughters to Spanish flu is breathtaking in it's tenderness and yet there is practically no dialogue. The grief is etched into every line in his face.
It's not your usual Tudor bodice ripper, so far anyway. There was no wild orgies or gay trysts to be seen but then again it was only the first episode. Thankfully we have five more to go.
And from one extreme to another - Danger! Amanda Brunker at Work on TV3 last Thursday night. I must confess the only reason I watched it is to do a hatchet job because I cannot stand Amanda Brunker! She is over confident, bossy, opinionated, brash and yes ok beautiful! But despite the fact the programme was really quite silly, Amanda herself was actually funny, especially at the very end when unknownst to herself she was displaying a builder's bum for all the world to see!
This reality format has been done to death so really the essence of the show was quite boring and we all knew what to expect. Amanda goes to work on a series of tough jobs, last week she was 'working' as a general operative with a construction company in Roscommon. We saw her hooking up (What?!) with a team of construction workers who taught her to lay blocks, underpinning and shovelling concrete. To be fair, she did get her hands dirty even if we all know she only did each job for about five minutes so the camera crew could get the shots.
But it was all the double entendres and sexual innuendo that I found really tedious. When asked to go on top in relation to one job, she smirked, "I love being on top." She went onto refer to a pipe as a bit like a vibrator and commented on how big it was. It was all a bit obvious and a bit unbecoming of a woman who likes to call herself a journalist.
If she had stopped making the smutty jokes and asked her colleagues more questions about how the building crisis had effected them it would have made for a far more interesting programme. Brunker did however redeem herself to a certain extent in the end by climbing to the top of a massive crane, not a bother on her.
If she kept her mouth shut she'd be grand!
ONES TO WATCH
Fortitude, Thursday, Sky Atlantic, 9 pm
There's a huge amount of new shows starting this week, so much so that we'll be spoilt for choice. One that I have been waiting months for is Fortitude on Sky Atlantic, the latest offering from the Scandi Noir genre. It's been hailed as Twin Peaks meets The Killing, so either way it can't be bad! Fortitude is a small town in the Arctic Circle where a murder is the catalyst to unearthing the town's darkest secret. Starring Christopher Eccleston, Richard Dormer, Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon and Sofie Grabol of The Killing, it is a stellar cast.
Regarded as one of the safest towns on the planet, when the murder takes place, the local community are rattled to the core. The murder unsettles everyone especially Governor Hildur Odegard (Grabol) who harbours big plans to turn the quaint town into a site for high end tourism. Suspicion falls on newcomer, Vincent Rattery, a young British Scientist doing ground-breaking research into cannibalism among polar bears and the changing environment.
How To Get Away With Murder, Thursday, RTE 2, 10 pm.
Also starting on Thursday night is Shonda Rimes new legal thrilller, How To Get Away With Murder, starring Oscar nominee Viola Davis who plays the lead role of Annalise Keating, an inscrutable defence attorney who has happens to be a top law professor. As fearless in the courtroom as she is in the classroom, Annalise represents the most hardened violent criminals and she'll do anything to win their freedom.
The Good Wife, Thursday, More 4, 9 pm.
Staying with legal drama, the sixth season of the Good Wife is back this Thursday and it kicks off with a bang! Cary is arrested for heroin trafficking , a calamity that results from the firm's connection with the drug lord, Lemond Bishop.
While Kalinda investigates who in Bishop's crew is accusing Cary, Alicia has to break of the negotiations over Diane joining Florrick Agos to raise the $1.3 million bail for Cary. Meanwhile in the office of Alicia's estranged husband Peter, the scheming and wonderful Eli Gold is doing his best to coax the governor to drop his opposition to her running for state's attorney.