This Week’s TV Highlights: The Bridge, Smash, Vera, 2 Broke Girls, Very Important People

by Matt D

Welcome once again as we plunge into the best that TV has to offer us over the next week.

The Bridge (BBC4, Sat, 9pm)

It’s fair to say that BBC4 has had major success with Scandinavian imports, most notably The Killing and Borgen. They are hoping to repeat that success with their latest acquisition The Bridge, which is a co-production between Sweden and Denmark focusing, as it does, on the Oresund Bridge that connects the two countries. When a body is found of the bridge, half on the Swedish side of the bridge and half on the Danish side, both countries sent one of their detectives to hunt down the killer before he strikes again. The Danish sent the podgy, much-divorced and scruffy Martin Rohde, who throughout the series is in constant pain thanks to a vasectomy he recently had. Meanwhile from Sweden we have another in a long line of strong Scandinavian female characters in Saga Noren, a socially awkward individual who is sort of a cross between Lisbeth Salander and Sarah Lund, however swapping the latter’s taste in jumpers for a pair of leather trousers.

The serial killer storyline has more in common with the second series of The Killing than the first and generally doesn’t match that show in terms of quality but it is still a gripping thriller. If you have enjoyed the Scandinavian offerings that the channel has given us so far, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy The Bridge whose first two episodes air on Saturday night.

Smash (Sky Atlantic, Sat, 10pm)
For those who want something a little lighter for their Saturday evenings this American offering, presented as the grown-up Glee, may appeal a little more. I mention Glee as both of them feature regular intervals of singing, however in the case of Smash most of the numbers performed are original compositions that are relevant to the plot. The show stars Debra Messing as Julia, an author of musicals who has promised her husband that she won’t work for a while so they can adopt a new baby, however she is soon working with her co-writer Tom on a musical based around the life of Marilyn Monroe. Smash then follows the pair as they attempt to get it made by appointing Jack Davenport’s sleazy director and getting the money they need from Anjelica Huston’s veteran financier. What makes Smash stand out for me is the songs which are written by Hairspray’s scribes Mark Shaiman and Scott Witman, which sound original but oddly familiar at the same time. If that’s not enough for you then this also has the backing of Steven Spielberg who has a good track record when it comes to putting his name to TV shows.

Vera (ITV1, Sun, 9pm)
In a week of strong female detectives on our screens, including the aforementioned Saga Noren as well as the brilliant Scott & Bailey, we welcome back one more in the form of Brenda Blethyn’s DCI Vera Stanhope. For those who missed Vera the first time around, she was presented as a cantankerous yet caring detective who favoured large coats as she walked around the Northumberland area solving crimes as she went. This series sees Vera trying to mellow out a little more after being diagnosed with angina, so she has to cut down on the running and the drinking however is still ready with a barbed insult when a colleague rubs her up the wrong way. This week Vera has to solve a case involving her first ever sergeant, whose house has been petrol-bombed leaving him with severe burns and his 18 year old daughter in a coma. If you like familiar yet well-told mystery stories, then Vera is definitely the one for you and Blethyn is marvellous as ever in another role that she has made her own.

2 Broke Girls (C4, Wed, 11:05pm/E4, Thurs, 9pm)
I forgot to mention that this bawdy American sitcom started its UK run last week, debuting on Thursday night on E4, however if you did miss it don’t despair as Channel 4 are repeating the first episode on Wednesday night, before the second episode airs on E4 on Thursday – you also have the option to catch it on 4OD.

The show centres around two girls who work at the same diner and later end up sharing an apartment together, with the only things they have in common is where they work and their lack of money. Kat Dennings, possibly best known for her role in Thor, plays Max a girl who has to fend for herself most of her life making ends meet by holding down several jobs, while Beth Behrs’ Caroline is a spoilt heiress forced to work after her disgraced father loses the family’s money and ends up in jail for fraud. The two decide that they will raise money to open their own cupcake business, so each episode sees them trying to put cash towards this total. While the humour in 2 Broke Girls is lowest common denominator stuff, there’s no denying that the two lead actresses have chemistry which some will find infectious. This is an easy to follow old-fashioned sitcom which I’m sure people will take to and keep tuning in week after week.

Very Important People (C4, Fri, 9:30pm)
With BBC1 airing a comedy triple bill on Friday nights, Channel 4 are trying to counteract this with their own line-up of funny shows including the returns of 8 out of 10 Cats, Stand-up for the Week and Alan Carr: Chatty Man. In between these old favourites is a brand new impressions show fronted by Morgana Robinson and Terry Mynott, both of whom did this sort of stuff on Robinson’s self-titled The Morgana Show, in which she made me chuckle with her take on Danni Minogue, Fearne Cotton and Cheryl Cole. Very Important People continues along that vein with a lot of the gags being obvious but the make-up being very impressive and some of the impressions almost spot on. Anybody who has seen the trailers knows that this is very hit-and-miss however Robinson’s take on the likes of Frankie Boyle and Natalie Cassidy are still very funny. While there is a constant string of witty gags, this isn’t Dead Ringers after all, I think there are enough laughs here to warrant you at least checking it out.

What are you looking forward to watching this week? Is there anything you think I’ve missed out? Leave your comments below.

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