REVIEW / Business as usual in television's capital city

THE FIRST episode of Headhunters (BBC 1) last week will have had admirers of Doug Lucie, the writer, hanging on by their fingernails. Its first image was one of those moody, meaningful shots which zoom in to linger on a long stare, in this case that of Francesca Annis, who had just snipped a rose bloom with castrator's efficiency and was gazing pensively at her ruthless husband. What followed seemed to be not only standard genre stuff but standard genre stuff cannibalised from old standard genre stuff now resting in the television junk-yard. And how long had it taken to get to the screen? Dramas about thrusting businessmen with no ethics and soured marriages were big in the Eighties weren't they? Isn't all this stuff about the ugly voracity of capitalism a bit dated?

The script didn't help - an extraordinary anthology of cliches which made you wonder whether the whole thing was a subtle satire on the form or whether Lucie was merely condescending to the medium because he needed to mend his roof. 'OK, I'm going out on a limb here', 'Tell me about it', 'I've rather put my head on the block', 'I'm there for you', 'They're my friends, you could try to be civil', 'Whatever happened to loyalty', 'I suppose you must despise me'. All these and many more. It was like a K-Tel advert for Duff Dialogue Classics, complete with backing visuals in which immaculately dressed men and women hung round each other's office doors being sardonic.

Only in the final minutes, when a distressed victim of one of Simon Hall's personnel raids opened his veins in the executive washroom, did you sense that the thing might turn a corner. We were definitely round the bend by the end of the second episode and so was Hall, having succumbed to a moral conversion that made Saul of Tarsus look like a ditherer. This was altogether less predictable, proving, among other things, that Lucie hasn't lost his talent for vicious dialogue. The man who finally tipped Hall over the edge was Roger Garrison, a heroically nasty record executive with an oven-stripper mouth. 'What he knows about pop music could be written on Kylie Minogue's tits,' he sneers about a colleague at one point. At the end Hall sits and weeps in the garden, his faith in free enterprise shattered and our faith in Doug Lucie on the mend.

ITV has put its hands up in the face of David Jason's ratings firepower and handed over a two-hour slab of the Sunday schedule during which he can play the mildly dyspeptic Inspector Frost. His nip isn't as fierce as Morse's but where the script doesn't actually invite you to laugh he's much better at making you forget Del Boy and Pop Larkin than you might have expected. Elsewhere he uses that trademark double-take, with its tiny lift of the eyebrow, to excellent effect. Unfortunately the series is its own worst enemy, a good thing played at a pace which reminds you of Soviet funeral music.

The curse of Tomorrow's World (BBC 1) has claimed another victim. A few months ago they produced a special report on Moscow, with a chirpily optimistic sign-off, which they had to hastily rewrite when the Russian coup intervened. On Friday night their LA special was similarly wrong- footed; before the quake, the preview tape looked fine, including reports on LA's new Metro system and recent advances in seismic prediction - after the earthquake it had cracks big enough to lose a Buick in. They replastered in time for transmission but don't be fooled. If they want to come to your city, just say no.

Finally, an apology to NYPD Blue (C4), which I wrongly accused of a continuity error last week. Several viewers wrote to point out that the director was merely cutting from reflections in the bar to the scene itself, thus giving the impression of a reversal. So it was tricksiness on their part, not incompetence. My eyeballs have been reprimanded for seeing what it suited them to see and sentenced to three weeks of Pobol Y Cwm, without remission.

Some editions of Saturday's paper wrongly credited Thomas Sutcliffe with writing the television review. It was in fact by Jasper Rees

Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
    She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

    Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

    The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
    American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

    Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

    James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
    Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

    Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

    Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution