Sunday April 29



Arriving on Netflix, this new American import is a bit cheesy around the edges – and the B-movie vibe is amplified by the some slightly shoddy CGI – but if you like a monster mash it’s entertaining enough, with a story that grows hookier once it gets going. A mix of demon slaying and police procedural, our heroes are the Hastings family, who run the funeral home in the southern hamlet of La Rochelle, Georgia. As well as being the local undertakers, they double up by doing morgue work for the police, and also have another moonlighting job: the Hastings have a long history of fighting the powers of the occult and a knowledge of all things mystical, which is handy, as their strange little town isn’t just full of eccentric characters and violent, shady happenings, it’s actually the landing point for dark entities and unearthly phenomena breaking through from the other side. Playing patriarch Isaac Hastings, Mario Van Peebles leads the predominantly black cast, which is also consciously strong on kickass female characters.

Monday 30

Art On The BBC: The Genius Of Leonardo Da Vinci 9pm, BBC Four Art historian Dr Janina Ramirez launches a dedicated raid on the BBC archives, setting out to build a portrait of the ultimate Renaissance man by selecting clips from various programmes that have been made about da Vinci over the past six decades. The resulting megamix is a kind of handy reader, as she judiciously edits together the most pertinent footage of how various experts and presenters have explored his work (not only the paintings, but the inventions, the architecture and the pioneering study of anatomy) and illustrated his methods: from close up studies of his mastery of light and shade, to Andrew Graham-Dixon going all forensic Dan Brown, by using modern technology to explore what lies on the canvas beneath the Mona Lisa. It also, as a sideline, works as a mixed-up potted history of arts television presenting, running from the ambitious and chilly-snooty guides of Kenneth Clarke, through the muscular, argumentative prodding of the great Robert Hughes, all the way to, well, Fiona Bruce.

Tuesday May 1


9pm, Sky Atlantic

While the past decade or so hasn’t been a golden period for Al Pacino at the cinema, he’s recovered and redirected his mojo in his TV work: his performance as Dr Jack Kevorkian in You Don’t Know Jack, the 2010 biopic of the assisted suicide advocate, was one of his best in a long time. Pacino reunites here with the latter’s director, Barry Levinson, for another portrait of a real-life figure: Joe Paterno, the legendary college football coach of Penn State university. In 2011, after a long, record-smashing career, the beloved 85-year-old’s legacy was tarnished by his association with his former coaching assistant Jerry Sandusky, who was convicted on dozens of charges of child sex abuse spanning twenty years, with victims as young as boys eight-years-old. The question was, how much did Paterno know about his colleague’s crimes? Levinson frames the film through the determined investigation of a young reporter, Sara Ganim (Riley Keough), for a solid, at times crackling study of the case and the atmosphere around it, anchored by Pacino’s growling, weakening turn.

Wednesday 2


10pm, BBC Two

Another showing for the final series of Mackenzie Crook’s gemlike story of life among metal detecting folk. No apologies for highlighting a repeat as the best thing on TV tonight. While it comes on modest, the scenes that bookend this opening episode illustrate the subtle scope and ambition of Detectorists, which was not only the best homegrown sitcom of the past decade, but, in its background hum, a strange, burrowing meditation on the British landscape and the flow of time. We begin far from the fields our heroes usually patrol: in the glassy heart of London’s financial district, where, in a high office, chilly business people meet to discuss their plans to build a vast new solar farm in Danebury, right where Lance (Toby Jones) and Andy (Crook) have long been searching for treasure. Later comes a witchy, spine-tingling sequence, as magpies stir, and the old phantoms of the meadows’ past walk again, centuries rising and falling around them. You might just catch a hint of MR James. As well as crude double entendres.

Friday 4

The Jazz Ambassadors

9pm, BBC Four

There were no previews available for tonight’s entry in BBC Four’s music slot, but it sounds fascinating, uncovering a semi-hidden story about a moment when music, the Cold War and America’s Civil Rights movement collided. In 1955, the Soviet Union used stories about racism in America as part of its persuasive global anti-US propaganda war – a task made easier given the sheer amount of very real racism going on in the States. Against this backdrop, the black Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. convinced President Eisenhower that they had a secret weapon: jazz. For the next decade, some of the country’s America’s most influential jazz artists, including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman and Dave Brubeck, travelled the globe as cultural ambassadors, promoting a picture of harmony through their racially integrated bands. But the growing unrest of the civil rights struggle on the streets back home led to a painful moral dilemma: how could they promote the image of a tolerant America abroad, when their country still practiced Jim Crow segregation?