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
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
books
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
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.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'