This Week’s TV Highlights: Once Upon a Time, Homeland, Game of Thrones season 2, The Undateables, Twenty Twelve

by Matt D

Once again here I am highlighting five shows that you might want to look out for in the week ahead.

Once Upon a Time (Channel Five, Sun, 8pm)
The second of the two fairytale-themed dramas that debuted on American TV this season after Grimm which is currently airing on Watch. For me Once Upon a Time is the superior of the two shows mainly because it has a bit more fun with its subject matter and has more of an original spin on the whole fantasy genre. It concerns Bounty Hunter Emma Swan who is surprised that the son she gave up for adoption comes to visit her and she is forced to return him to the town of Storybrook. Emma has links with the town that she is unaware of and it relates to a curse placed on Snow White and Prince Charming by the Evil Queen back in the fantasy world. While the premise is incredibly ludicrous I think that there is enough here to attract an audience who like a bit of fun from their TV shows. The production design is incredibly inventive while the performances from Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parilla and especially Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin are engaging. Once Upon a Time is an enjoyable show if at times a little bit contrived.

Homeland (C4, Sun, 9pm
While Sunday night TV is full of drama such as Titanic and the returning Silent Witness there’s no disputing the fact that Homeland is the best programme on TV at the moment. As we are now halfway through the series things have moved on quite a bit with unhinged CIA agent Carrie and war hero turned possible terrorist Brody now having a full-blown affair. As she now knows that he lied during last week’s polygraph test she is trying to get the truth from him during a weekend at her family’s cabin in the woods but will he be trying to get information from her? Meanwhile the terrorism plot increases as the CIA finally catch-up with Aileen and Saul is the one who is chosen to interrogate her. As always the writing is great and this episode really demonstrates the chemistry between Damian Lewis and Claire Danes.

Game of Thrones (Sky Atlantic, Mon, 9pm)
Another fantasy-based drama but one that is pure quality but seeing as it comes from HBO I would expect no less. Explaining the plot of Game of Thrones would both be quite complicated and also spoil it for people who have yet to see it but the programme is faithfully adapted from George R Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series which concentrates on the dynastic struggles between the noble families of the seven kingdoms of Westeros. The best thing about Game of Thrones for me are the wild exterior settings and a lot of attention has been paid to getting these right as the programme is filmed in four countries. That’s to take nothing away from the cast who include Mark Addy, Lena Headey and Emmy winner Peter Dinklage who all bring depth to their various characters. A strong fantasy drama Game of Thrones is another HBO hit although I would recommend you catch up with Season One before starting to watch the second run.

The Undateables (C4,Tues, 9pm)
Channel 4 are often known for documentaries that look at disabilities both physical and mental and their latest programme sees three disabled people looking for love. Asperger’s sufferer Richard, Luke who has Tourette syndrome and 3ft foot tall wheelchair bound Penny are all trying to find their perfect partner. With Richard only wanting to date somebody within a five mile radius of his home and Penny on the look-out for a tall police-officer the search isn’t going to be easy. I always feel that Channel 4 handle these sort of programme with sensitivity and by the looks of The Undateables it is trying to convey that there is much more to all of these people than just their handicaps.

Twenty Twelve (BBC2, Fri, 10pm)
One of our strongest sitcoms in recent years it’s a shame that Twenty Twelve is only airing four episodes this series and I just hope that a third series dealing with the team’s efforts to tidy up after the games follows sometime after the summer. The best thing about Twenty Twelve is that it pokes fun at those who converse in business speak but don’t really get anything done which isn’t great when these are the people who are trying to iron out the finer points of the Olympic Games. In this second episode the team are still trying to sort out the issues with the faith centre and consider converting the laundry centre into a Mosque to get the Algerian team on side. Just brilliantly funny and well-played by all the cast this is a comedy that I can’t recommend highly enough.

What are you looking forward to watching on the TV this week? Leave your comments below.