This Week’s TV Highlights: Titanic, Words of the Titanic, Beavis and Butt-Head, Later Live with Jools Holland, Louis Theroux: Extreme Love, Grandma’s House

by Matt D

As we approach the coming week I will once again take you through my TV highlights.

Titanic/Words of the Titanic (ITV1, Sun, 9pm/10pm)
It’s been dubbed Drownton Abbey by some and the majority of the viewers have actually jumped ship since Julian Fellowes’ version of the Titanic story started three weeks ago. Those of you who have read my reviews now that I have found it a struggle at times and I’m really not a fan of the narrative structure that sees the same people drowning week after week. In this final instalment we get to see who lives and who dies while catching up with some of the snooty first class characters we met all the way back in episode one. Following on from the dramatized version of the story we have another retelling of the Titanic in one-off documentary Words of the Titanic. In a similar fashion to the Captain Scott programme that aired a couple of weeks ago this show will use the diaries and letters written by passengers and crew to tell the story in their words. These letters are read both by actors, such as Roger Allam and Richard E Grant, and family members of those onboard the ship which should give Words of the Titanic an even more personal feel. So if you’re after a programme to respectfully mark the anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking I would hold out for the documentary rather than the overblown drama.

Beavis and Butt-Head (MTV, Mon, 10pm)
Before the likes of Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers came Beavis and Butt-Head the original cartoon series which took things a little further than The Simpsons and featured two unruly teenagers as its protagonists. Beavis and Butt-Head really were just layabouts having no regard for authority instead spending their time watching music videos and making harsh comments about the musicians. Almost fifteen years later creator Mike Judge has revived his most famous creations for another series but thankfully hasn’t changed things a bit not that anybody wanted him to. In 2012 we find the delinquents trying to get girls by emulating the Twilight movies and trying to turn themselves into either vampires or werewolves by getting bitten. This surreal story really suits this programme and at the same time updates it for a new audience without alienating original fans. Obviously the dissection of music videos and TV is also kept around with Jersey Shore being the main targets in this first episode but for most of us tuning in this will be a chance to relive our misspent youth.

Later Live… with Jools Holland (BBC2, Tues, 10pm)
The Jools Holland show is a must for all music fans mainly as it seems to be one of the only ways of seeing live music on the TV these days. The show is now broadcast live in this thirty minute programme and this week’s star turn is Paul Weller who will be performing tracks from his new album Sonik Kicks hopefully alongside some of his more classic hits. The other big names on the bill are The Macabees as well as Mike Skinner who will be familiar to most as part of The Streets. Lesser known acts include the brilliant Beth Jeans Houghton who will be performing tracks from her debut album, American soul singer Willis Earl Beal and Brazilian vocalist Ceu. If this isn’t enough for you there will be the extended not live version of the show featuring extra tracks at 11:50 on Friday night.

Louis Theroux: Extreme Love (BBC2, Thurs, 9pm)
As we all know Louis Theroux isn’t to shy away from tough topics, he had to spend time staying with Paul Daniels enough to drive any man insane, and here he travels to America to meet children who are on different points on the autistic spectrum. His destination for the majority of this documentary is the Developmental Learning Centre in New Jersey as Theroux spends time getting to know certain families with children who have severe learning difficulties. As someone who has worked with autistic children I know how difficult they can be and this film does give a very extreme view as Theroux spends most of his time as a bystander unable to help however as the programme progresses he does befriend one of the boys who is wowed by his fame back in the UK. Any Theroux documentary is worth a watch and with a subject that is very close to my heart this is set to be a well-produced if uncomfortable to watch programme.

Grandma’s House (BBC2, Thurs, 10pm)
Ending on something a bit lighter is the welcome return of Simon Amstell’s sitcom Grandma’s House which returns for a welcome and long overdue second series. Since we last saw fictional Simon and his dysfunctional family his grandfather has passed away, as did the actor who played him Geoffrey Hutchings, so he has now moved in with his grandma in order for her not to be lonely. However it is not long before the arguments begin especially between Janet Front’s classic Jewish mother Tanya and the brilliant Samantha Spiro as Aunt Liz. This was one of my favourite sitcoms of 2010 and I’m so glad it’s back as it is essentially a Jewish Royle Family with a bit of Curb Your Enthusiasm thrown in for good measure. Despite the tragic passing the brilliant ensemble cast, which also includes Linda Bassett and The Thick of It’s James Smith, all bounce of each other terrifically. Programmes such as this and Twenty Twelve do give you hope that the future of British comedy isn’t that bleak after all.

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