The week on TV: The Flight Attendant; Lucy Worsley Investigates: The Witch Hunts; Deputy Tokyo; Big Boys | Television
The stewardess (Sky Max) | now tv
Lucy Worsley Investigates: The Witch Hunt (BBC Two) | iPlayer
Deputy Tokyo (Starz Play)
big boys (Channel 4) | All 4
How disappointing when a first series is all tumultuous, slimy moxie, rebooting tired spy tropes, and then the second series falls from the sky like a popped balloon.
That’s how it feels with Sky Max’s second eight-part series The stewardess, again developed by Steve Yockey. Based on the novel by Chris Bohjalian, the first outing was about Cassie (Kaley Cuoco), a partying flight attendant recovering from childhood trauma with alcohol, who wakes up next to a corpse and finds herself drawn into a labyrinthine nightmare soaked in espionage. . A murder mystery marinating in an allegory of addiction, it was enhanced by Cuoco’s tragicomic flair for the channel update. Private Benjamin-era Goldie Hawn with added millennial abrasion.
The second season opens with Cassie at an AA meeting, nearly a year sober and in a relationship with a photographer (Santiago Cabrera). She’s still a flight attendant, but she has a secret “part-time job” as a CIA “civilian asset.” Of course, Cassie refuses to stay in her hallway (the CIA agent seems alarmed by this, as if he’s never encountered a Maverick before) and finds herself caught in a maelstrom of schemes, explosions and sinister look-alikes in Berlin.
For all convolutions – cut scenes, split screens – everything is boring. I saw the first two episodes and, dramatically, felt like I was trapped in a red-eye theft with seatbelt warnings (plot non-turbulence ahead!) echoing all along. Gone is the anarchic atmosphere, at all costs, which made the first series sing. Tonally, it sounds like a soapy spy caper. Familiar characters are categorically taken up: Annie (Zosia Mamet) the tense friend (we know that she is tense because she walks with the gait of a Pez dispenser); Rosie Perez hides unnecessarily in a North Korean subplot.
The new characters – Cheryl Hines’ chief spy, Mae Martin’s possibly sleazy flight attendant – look less drawn than hastily scribbled on a sleep-deprived TV producer’s napkin. Cuoco retains Cassie’s nervous brilliance but she is constantly forced to interact with herself (party girl, etc.). If it’s to appease viewers longing for the first Cassie series, it backfires, reminding you how prickly and daring The stewardess used to be. Sharon Stone is expected to appear as Cassie’s mother, which is an intriguing cast, so things could get even better. Right now he’s feeling clammy and unconfident, and no one wants to hear the pilot swallow in the cockpit.
A certain type of woman goes through life convinced that in days gone by she would have been burned as a witch. I’m one of those women (gobby, sun shower, shape for juvenile tarot reading) so my interest was piqued by BBC Two Lucy Worsley Investigates: The Witch Huntthe first in a new four-part series in which the historian re-examines infamous slices of the past.
Partly dramatized, the focus is on Agnes Sampson, who is accused, along with others, of using witchcraft to jeopardize the ship of Scottish King James VI. Questioned by the king himself, Sampson was then executed in Edinburgh in 1591, sparking a century of persecution against innocent people, mostly women, across the British Isles. Poor, illiterate, powerless, often working as midwives or folk healers, “witches” such as Sampson were tortured to “confess” and denounce others. It was, after all, a time when ‘witch stitching’ – poking bare shaven bodies, including the genitals, with long, thick needles – was real work.
Now, of course, there are other ways to “burn witches” – bow down, social media – but this was for real. This documentary emerges not only as an exploration of misogynistic hysteria, but also of political-religious ulterior motives: how it was a “good idea” for King James to confront witchcraft. Worsley’s “telly-bluestocking” style of presentation is so perfect for the subject that I couldn’t help but wonder if she, too, suspected she might have ended up tied to a stake, licking the flames. I wouldn’t be surprised.
More on StarzPlay hides Deputy Tokyoa flawed but engrossing eight-part yakuza-gangland thriller set in 1990s Japan, based on Jake Adelstein’s 2009 memoir of his time as a Tokyo-based crime reporter.
The Michael Mann (of man hunter, Collateral and miami vice) co-executive produces and directs the first episode – actually the sloppiest of the five I’ve seen, taking tedious times to establish how “gaijin” Adelstein lands his job at a reputable outlet, only to be chastised for trying to do it correctly. Representative Adelstein, Ansel Elgort (West Side Story) valiantly sports the period “Young Michael Douglas” partial mullet. Elsewhere, Rachel Keller is an enigmatic nightclub “hostess”, while Ken Watanabe (The last Samourai) plays a world-weary detective and Shô Kasamatsu is a conflicted gangster.
Partially subtitled Deputy Tokyo is not immune to the “Western gaze” – there are narrative ripples of “isn’t the American fearless and wonderful?” – but it doesn’t happen as often as you might fear. The Japanese characters are compelling, and there’s a concerted attempt to show a less crowded Tokyo behind the scenes, beyond even the seedy, violent underbelly. After an uneven start, the story – a grim ’90s noir saga about organized crime, drugs, sex and suicide – takes on the flavors of Jim Thompson-hits-Japan. I ended up investing properly in Deputy Tokyowondering how it would turn out.
big boys is a six-part semi-autobiographical new Channel 4 comedy, written and created by comedian Jack Rooke (Happy man). Directed by Jim Archer, it stars Dylan Llewellyn (James in Derry Girls) as Jack, who is gay, insecure, and flounders in romantic co-dependency with his mother (Camille Coduri) after his father’s death.
Finally arriving at Brent University, Jack, who has the fashion sense of a particularly extravagant Build-A-Bear creation, befriends Danny (Jon Pointing), a boy on the outside but mentally brittle. The opening double episode rips through cooler campus life (“You can’t call yourself working class unless you’ve burned the roof of your mouth on a Greggs”), and Jack’s first LGBTQ+ party: “You drank poppers?” big boys can be a tough scruffy run (think Fresh meat after downing a few boxes of cut-price wine), but I enjoyed its tigger spirit and unreserved embrace of difficult themes. Here’s a comedy that’s not afraid to bounce around in the dark.
What else am I watching
Obi Wan Kenobi
This star wars The spin-off series sees Ewan McGregor don the legendary flowing dresses to reprise his role on the big screen. Science fiction fans: may the force and the Disney+ subscription be with you.
Troy Deeney: where is my story?
Birmingham striker Troy Deeney is a passionate advocate for black history to become compulsory in the UK school curriculum. Formerly excluded from school, having become a father himself, he includes young black activists in the debate.
In 2021, this new comedy series released a super fresh pilot that left me feeling like I was 200 and counting. Using humor, music and street style, it follows the antics of a group of students in a school’s Student Guidance Unit and their ever-patient teachers.