Last Chance to See, BBC2
The Last Days of Lehman Brothers, BBC2
Harper's Island, BBC3

Wit and repartee as Fry and friend seek the endangered manatee, while dull confusion reigns at soon-to-be-extinct Lehman Brothers

Dodos: adorable. The T Rex: awe-inspiringly terrifying (no, not Marc Bolan's big hair). Woolworths pick'n'mix: Amusingly delightful. And extinct, the lot of them. Which brings us, surreally enough, to this week's televisual treats.

Not quite extinct, but heading that way due to poachers, is the Ama-zonian manatee, as sweet as the dodo and the subject of the first episode in Stephen Fry's new series, Last Chance to See. Into the murky waters of a tributary of a tributary of a tributary of the great Brazilian river goes Fry, alongside zoologist Mark Carwardine.

The dynamic duo are picking up where Carwardine and Fry's friend, the late novelist Douglas Adams, began 20 years earlier, on the trail of various endangered species – though it soon becomes clear that Carwardine is a fair bit more dynamic than Fry: while the former is off in a tiny craft to photograph a potentially deadly emerald tree boa, Fry busies himself trying to get reception on his BlackBerry.

In fact, more than the hunt, it is the interplay between Carwardine and Fry ("I'm hot and I'm sweaty and I'd like to be in my hotel, but what am I moaning about? Mark told me to close the door last night because vampire bats might come in") that really makes this show. Carwardine is as knowledgeable about the natural world as Fry is about everything else, and their repartee is as joyously witty as one might expect.

Sorry, did someone mention manatees? Well, as it happens, the lugubrious behemoth (Hey! Enough about Stephen Fry already!) stays hidden in the wilds, but the two men are lucky enough to chance upon one towards the end of the programme ... albeit in a zoo. Nevertheless, its beguiling innocence immediately makes it clear why Fry is moved to opine that it would be positively indecent of us to let this wonderful creature die out.

Not quite so gentle (nor, would many say, are they so worthy of saving) are the financiers in The Last Days of Lehman Brothers. Corey Johnson, as Lehman boss Dick Fuld, has all the charm of a Tyrannosaur on heat and then some, as he battles to keep his bank afloat. Actually, more to the point, as he barks at his underlings. Because he doesn't really seem to spend that much time trying to save his business – just wandering around in his office, huffing a lot and putting in the one call, to US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, when all seems lost.

It's all very fast-moving, and at first comes across like a financial-catastrophe special of The Hustle with its strange choice of music and first-person narration (by a character who intermittently seems forgotten about), but for all that, it was hard not to get completely lost by a drama that decided not to name names. (Who were all those bankers in Paulson's get-together? Who's Fannie, for that matter? And what on earth are CDOs? And why does James Bolam have a strange Texan-via-Geordie twang? He's meant to be from Mississippi? Really?).

And, ultimately, it was hard not to be bored by what was one of the most important – and dramatic – events of the past year. The end of Lehman – and the programme – couldn't come soon enough. Maybe boardrooms just aren't cut out for TV specials. Better tell the producers at Dragons' Den.

No such problems over on Harper's Island, where guests at a wedding being held in a small community near Seattle are being bumped off with impressive alacrity – not to mention inventiveness. Thirteen episodes, 25 suspects, one killer. This is the pick'n'mix of extinction. Fizzy cola bottles or pineapple cubes? The flirty blonde or the annoying Englishman – who's going to get it next? As it happens, it's that bloke who used to be on LA Law (and chopped in half, no less), but it doesn't really matter, because this is pure confection for the eyes, a guilty pleasure there's no need to feel guilty about. It's glossy, it's sexy, it's Sunset Beach crossed with Scream, it's downright stupid. But, my goodness, is it fun. And it's one sure way to slash the guest list.

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones