DRAMA SERIES The West Wing
Chancel :1, starts Thu 18 Jan, IDbrh.
Snappy and solid if schmaltzy
Jaw-dropprng drama and US polrtrcs have never been too far away from each other !It recent trmes And let’s face rt, rf The West Wrng can go some way to rnatchrrrg the hrgh tensron and hr/arre events of last year's Presrdentral electron, rt'll be pretty hreath-takrng stuff The serres arrrves here wrth a vast
DRAMA SERIES Thelnnocent
Scottish, Tue 7 Jan, 9.10pm & Mon 8 Jan, 9pm.
A bland story about a complex issue
A relatrvely srmple story, The Innocent portrays the devastatrng effects of rape allegatrons, focusrng upon the-lrves of the vrctrm and famrly, and also the shattered world of the accused.
The plot goes Irke thrs. Alrson Huntley accuses her best frrend’s husband, Davrd, of raprng her after a party. Relatronshrps collapse, chrldren cry, careers crumble The standard opposrng arguments surroundrng rape emerge, and Alrson's story becomes all
was the noooy s'aug"ter o‘ The Sopranos at last year's Emmys ‘\.’."r‘rre James Ganoolfrnr oesemedly waitzed away '.'.’.tr‘. the best actor gong for hs role as the messed-up rnafroso Tony, The West Wrng stole the nrght, nabbrng art astOnrsnmg nrne awards, the brggest e'.er haul by a srngle shots;
lllartrn Sheen rs the man rn the Oval Offrce, a Democratrc leader whose rntellrgence and humanrty are matched Only by hrs predrlectron for the cock-up and proneness for acodents Hrs arcles have therr problems too, but they are the ones keeprng the admrnrstratron afloat A very splendrd Rob Lowe plays the deputy communrcatrons drrector Sam Seaborn whose taste for the ladres may eventually be hrs downfall, whether the wrrters erI play the postmodern card and have hrm caught on camera remarns to be seen
Created by Aaron Sorkrn, the screenwrrter of A Few Good Men, the programme has a ‘e r set rn the Whrte House' feel and rts snappy dralogue and solrd characterrsatron has largely been the factors behrnd rts glorrous success, that and the Amerrcan ObSQSSron wrth getting some rnsrght rnto the gorngs-on wrthrn the most Srgnrfrcant burldrng rn therr country Almost the only thrng whrch threatens to let rt down rs rts 'here comes the moral of our story' clrmax and a schmaltzy srgnature tune whrch has the nausea-rnducrng rauntrness of Murder She Wrote Whrle you clearly can't have everythrng, The West Wing offers an awful lot. (Brran Donaldson)
too famrlrar. Thrs rsn’t somethrng that happens to nrce grrls Old-boy's club Iogrc rears rts hrdeous head, rangrng from the vrnclrc'trve, 'she had rt comrng‘, to the rrrelevant, and frankly rrdrculous, 'well, she was wearrng a rather shOrt skrrt' Funny how male rape vrctrms don't get grllled abOut how trght therr trousers were.
In an attempt to demonstrate the ambrgurty of the crrme, Huntley (Clare Holman), a hrgh-flyrng barrrster and drvorcecl mother-of-two, rs alternately portrayed as unstable and flrrtatrous, Or ratronal and restrarned. And rt wouldn’t do for the accused to be an ugly old knacker, then, of c0urse, there'd be no guestron as to hrs gurlt. Davrd (Paul Rhys) rs a seductrve charmer and, to make matters worse, an old flame of Alrson’s.
Prepare for some SurprISIngly bland actrng, the exceptron berng Davrd's long-Sufferrng wrfe Beth, played by Men Behavrng Bad/y’s Carolrne Quentrn rn her frrst dramatrc role and, grven her powerful performance, hopefully not her last.
’Of all rape cases whrch go to trral rn Brrtarn, only 10% re5ult rn convrctrons,’ Beth explarns. Thrs fact poses serrous questrons regardrng our legal system’s effectrveness rn dealrng wrth a crrme that's often as drffrcult to defrne as to prove. And conSrderrng the very real preludrces and assumptrons that already Surround thrs sensrtrve area, there are serrous questrons as to whether thrs productron ends up confrrmrng the assumptrons rt’s attemptrng to drspel. (Olly Lassmant
DRAMA SERIES Bad Girls
Scottish, starts Mon 1.3 Jan, 9pm.
\'.'nat .s rt about women and prison that seems to make ‘0' ton te r‘.lan .l‘ r‘ecab ﬁne p" we tune pleasures of gomg rrhrn These 0r spendrng trme ‘.-.:tn the \‘.Obb|y sets and flaky actrng of Pnsoner Cer" Block H And when the producers were Iookrng for The Governor, they sought Out Oscar-nontrnated Janet IclcTeer t'Or' the role When the males retalrate, rt’s unrtl‘ Porro’ge, a corrredt an s‘. as a classrc but hardly made any rnroads :nto our L;"(t("’\f<l't(1 no ahoﬁ. 'e “s 2e
So, whrle the H ladres became a gentrsne cult, a . . c females erl be antrCrpated by the nrne (“r'lron who were tuiﬁcr 4‘ :as', two Starrrng Srmone Young Person’s Gurde To Beconrrng A ROtA Star Lanhl‘, Penna Playrng The Ere/d Stephenson and Clarre Emmerda/e KIng, the S"()‘.‘. "HS" t "eltl back on the grrmrer aspects of lrfe In the cells whrle sttl‘ "('Itll"w"C2 an ..'t ke‘t sense of glamour, the rnmates are clad rn garrshly fas'rrsooanre ::a"n as ermoseo tt, H’s flared dungarees
FOr the thrrd serres, you can expect more forbrdden deserts, hart—nu ("(1 .r» try. exercrse yard and mrssrng lrp gloss, And hopefully rt xxrll ans\.‘.er the no (ruestxrrw wrll Helen turn Nrkkr rn? Can Crystal stay Out of trouble7 Ano ‘.'.‘il l—e'tne' (ref r: rr: the neck7 Trme \VIH tell, (Brran Donaldsonr
DOCUMENTARY SERIES Living By The Book Channel 4, starts Wed IO Jan, 9pm.
Have you ever read a self-help book7 It seems the world rs Spllt between those who love or loathe them and thrs four-part serres rnvestrgates therr appeal. Armrng to drscover whether the books actually work, three optrmrstrc srngle females agree to Irve therr Irves by datrng etrquette manual The Rules, for a month.
Our three gurnea prgs are self-confessed losers rn love, from the grrl who calls guys ten trmes a day to the one who's cookrng therr meals wrthrn hours after meetrng them. Sendrng vrdeo drarres of therr antrcs to the book's co-atrthors provrdes some hrlarrous moments as the two perfectly made-up and rrrarrtured datrng gurus look on rn horrrfred clrsbelref as the grrls break yet another ‘rule'
Essentrally, followrng The Ru/es means rnakrng men chase after you, castrrrg off any notrons of equalrty. Some mrght see :t as manrpulatron and the three grrls sourrm about not 'berng themselves' But by the end of the experrrr'tent, at least one of the partrcrpants has stopped actrng Irke a doormat, so rt can't be all hao (male vrewers may drsagreel,
Wrth future eprsodes coverrng books Irke Todd/er Tamrng, rt looks Irke there‘s lots more relatronshrp strarnrng rn store. (Loursa Pearsont
DRAMA SERIES Rebel Heart BBCI, starts Sun 7 Jan, 9.10pm.
Rrghtly or wrongly, most Brrts mrght belreve that Northern Ireland should be unrted wrth rts Southern nerghb0ur, but rather fewer know the tale behrnd Irrsh rndependence. Thrs drama may do somethrng to trp the balance, althOugh wrrter Ronan Bennett absolves hrmself of responsrbrlrty for any rdeologrcal message, suggestrng that ‘all I cared about was producrng a movrng story’.
The centrepOrnt of hrs taut drama rs yOung, rdealrstrc lr'rshman Ernre COyne (James D’Arcy) He takes a rather rneffectual part rn the 1916 GPO occupatron, but soon drscovers a vacancy as a runner for top brass, spendrng most of the frrst eprsode cyclrng enthusrastrcaliy round Dublrn whrle the speCraI effects department have fun wrth explosrons
Thrngs soon grow mOre serrous. Ernre falls rn love wrth Ita Feeney (Paloma Baeza) as uprrsrng becomes guerrlla war. He JOrns Mrchael Collrns’ IRA, and as the natronalrst movement comes to frurtron, and SrmultaneOusly fragments, acts of brutalrty prolrferate on both srdes, Ieavrng hrm to examrne hrs personal and polrtrcal motives.
Rebel Heart may attract flak for rts Sympathetrc attrtude to the IRA (not to mentron the Corrs theme tune), but rt makes for compellrng drama It may offer no solutron to thrs hate-fuelled conflrct, but Bennett has rllumrnated the problem boldly (James Smart)
Another desperate search for the missing lip gloss
SUVV‘S "‘ Iri'k'“:
The kids'll be alright with self-help
Personal and political warfare
S Jae—l8 Jan 200‘: THELIST103