Damien Loves gives his top picks for TV, March 2 - March 8.
Sunday March 2
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9pm, BBC One
Zounds, monsieur, but they have made a lot of these Musketeers programmes! Or does it just feel that way?
The children's show they're trying to pretend isn't
a children's show has been running six weeks now, and there's still a month to go after this.
It's a fun way to kill your brain for an hour if there's really nothing else on, but imagine, for a second, if all those resources, all that running time, had been ploughed into at least trying something like a British True Detective.
Peter Capaldi continues to steal it all as
the crafty Richelieu tonight, in an episode that
sees d'Artagnan and Aramis attempting to help
out a young woman whose baby has been taken away by armed men. Who is she, and why the kidnap?
Could it have anything to do with the unexpected reappearance in the palace of King Louis's disgraced and banished mother (guest evil and mental hair from Tara Fitzgerald)?
Monday, March 3
Storyville: 5 Broken Cameras
10.30pm, BBC Four
Storyville continues to be the gift that keeps giving, delivering almost nothing but excellent documentaries from all corners of the planet.
The strand has a knack for spotlighting unexpected films that might otherwise have passed us by, but tonight's has a well-earned repute, having been Oscar-nominated last year. The broken video cameras belong to Emad Burnat, a farmer in the Palestinian village of Bil'in, in the occupied West Bank. He first bought a camcorder in 2005 to capture the first steps of his newborn fourth son, Gibreel. The baby's arrival coincided with a push by the Israeli regime to take away more of his town's land, in order to erect their massive "security wall." Alongside home movies, Burnat began to document protests, the iron fist that met them and a compelling daily record of life in a state of siege. This powerful, defiant, sometimes gentle and always human film was edited together from four years' of his footage, in partnership with Jewish-Israeli director Guy Davidi.
Tuesday, March 4
10pm, BBC Two
Comic book fans will recognise the name of the Glaswegian artist who has drawn the likes of X-Men, Superman and Batman over the years - or at least, his pen name.
Born Vincent Deighan, he took up the Quitely moniker when he first started out in Scotland's underground comix scene in the late 1980s, in
case he upset his family with strips like The
Greens, his enthusiastically raw parody of The Broons.
Since then, along with Grant Morrison and
Mark Millar, Quitely has been one of a group of Scottish writers and artists who have had considerable impact on Marvel and DC, the behemoth publishers of the trade, while striving to pursue a personal vision.
A must-see for budding pencillers and proud
geeks alike, this film follows him over the course of one day (and night) as he works in his Glasgow
studio on his latest collaboration with Millar, Jupiter's Legacy, a series about aging superheroes and their offspring.
Wednesday, March 5
Inside No 9
10pm, BBC Two
In this week's trip into the precarious minds of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, Number 9 is a room - to be specific, a dressing room, in the bowels of a London theatre.
Here we meet Tony Warner (Pemberton), a thundering ham whose full-blooded Macbeth has made him the toast of the West End. Waiting in the wings, meanwhile, "like a TV set on standby", is admiring young understudy Jim (Shearsmith), quietly hoping that one day he might yet get to take the lead.
His actress-fiancée Laura (Lynsey Marshal) is pushing for him to take his chance when it comes
- but is she going to get all Lady Macbeth about it?
Alongside some deliciously catty actorly bitching (pointed lines about winning "a recurring role in
Game Of Thrones"), the script cleverly offers parallels with The Scottish Play, just to whip them away again.
Fine stuff, played by a cast relishing it, including Julia Davis as a sour stage manager and Rosie Cavaliero as Tony's mousy, hard-pressed dresser.
Thursday, March 6
Thursday-Saturday, 9pm, BBC Two
When, back around 1922, John Reith laid out the BBC's mission, he famously boiled it down to those three little words: inform, educate, entertain. You can't put it better than that, but every now and then they decide they have another buzzword to add. If the Corporation's First World War season is anything to judge by, the mantra has now been appended to include "deluge".
Consider. Britain didn't enter the war until August 1914, meaning the centenary is still six months away. Already, though, battle fatigue among viewers is growing intense, as yet another exploration explodes on yet another platform. It's an easy critical joke to describe a historical documentary as feeling like it lasts longer than the events under study, but with this season, it's the literal case.
Across BBC TV, radio and online, some 2500 hours have been ringfenced for the First World War over 2014-18, meaning that, were you to devote 100 days to doing nothing but consuming it - without even a toilet break or fishcakes - you still wouldn't get through it all. Meanwhile, as ITV and Channel 4 get in on the act, the danger of mission creep looms large.
It's entirely right that TV should not only mark this anniversary, but also test its legacies and meanings, and do so in a manner that is significant and substantial. But I'm not sure carpet-bombing is the way to go about it. Last week's double-whammy of opposing historical readings, with Max Hastings arguing in one film that the war was a good and necessary thing, and Niall Ferguson countering in another it was a tragic and wasteful mistake, was a good piece of self-negating cut and thrust. But coming after Jeremy Paxman's Britain's Great War and associated programming, and with the pressing knowledge there are years more to come, these voices get diluted.
Add to this that, while the Paxman programme made a decent fist, nothing about it made the case for it needing to exist at all - not when we already have two definitive volumes in the BBC's 26-part history The Great War (from 1964) and Channel 4's 10-part The First World War (from 2003), based on the work of Hew Strachan. Both are landmarks. Both are also being repeated in this current season. Of course, it would be a hopeless situation if we decided we shouldn't make new TV programmes because there are brilliant old ones. However, with the BBC's budget under pressure as never before, the question of whether this season is the best use of limited resources is legitimate.
Which brings us to 37 Days, a deadly dull three-part drama on the days leading to war, as played out in the corridors of power in London and Berlin. The BBC is keen to tag it "political thriller" to disguise that it's mainly male actors of certain vintage talking while wearing stiff collars in a series of lovely rooms.
There's a good cast, best of all Ian McDiarmid, delightful, sly, sparky and almost entirely wasted as Edward Grey, the foreign secretary getting a hairy feeling as he reads the tealeaves from Sarajevo. But while it does a good job of laying facts out, it does nothing else. Labouring under a say-what-you-see voiceover, the effect is like looking at a waxwork diorama, while listening to a headset. It would be a fine classroom tool, but it's heavy marching for primetime over three consecutive nights at the weekend. And it won't be the last. This won't all be over by Christmas.
Friday, March 7
Storyville: Muscle Shoals - The Greatest Recording Studio In The World
9pm, BBC Four
Another fine choice from the Storyville selector with this chance to see director Greg "Freddy" Camalier's meticulous, heartfelt homage to the pair of feuding studios in the tiny town in rural Alabama that between them produced scores of classic recordings across the 1960s and 1970s, including deathless tracks by Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Percy Sledge, and The Rolling Stones' Brown Sugar.
At the centre of the story is the figure of Rick Hall, a southern-fired good ol' boy who, in the late 1950s, at a time of segregation and intense racial tension, founded FAME studio and fermented a sound that stewed black and white together in a way that would alter rock, soul and country for good. When his incredible house
band broke away in 1969 to open their rival Muscle Shoals Sound, the floodgates really opened. Aretha, Mick 'n' Keef, Steve Winwood, Jimmy Cliff and
Greg Allman are among the many veterans telling tales.
Be warned however - the show also features Bono.
Saturday, March 8
9pm, Sky Atlantic
Episode three of the best thing on television at the moment, and for a long time.
It's a slow burn and, if anything, the pace slips down another delicious few notches tonight as, back in 1995, the murder case seems to be slipping away from Hart and Cohle, and pressure builds for them to hand it all over to the new task force.
The discovery of the burned-out church leads to a travelling preacher, but his flock have few clues, beyond vague sightings of "a tall man" with a scarred face in the company of the dead girl.
Meanwhile, the pair are in freefall: Cohle's philosophy of life gets doomier, and Hart comes closer to breaking apart as his familial failings and falsehoods pile up, and his wife becomes evermore entranced by his new partner.
Cohle's stubborn diligence finally pays off, however, sending them off on a new track that leads deeper into a creepy, crazy heart of darkness.