Last Night's TV - The Bear Family and Me, BBC2; Above Suspicion: Deadly Intent, ITV1; The Lakes, ITV1

Close encounters of the furred kind

The resounding message of Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man was that fraternising with wild bears will end in tears. "I believe the common character of the universe is not harmony," Herzog' s German-accented voiceover ran, over some lingering footage of a rotting animal carcass, "... but chaos, hostility, unt murder." Gordon Buchanan doesn't appear to have seen Herzog's documentary, in which bear-loving Timothy Treadwell was killed and mutilated by one of his furry chums. For
The Bear Family and Me, Buchanan chose to spend a year in the wilderness of northern Minnesota with a group of black bears – smaller than grizzlies, but perfectly capable of giving an overfamiliar cameraperson a concussion with a clip round the ear. "When you look into a bear's eyes," the curly-haired Scot mused, "they've got a mad look about them." You could say the same of him. Buchanan's first clammy-palmed encounter with a bear, as he followed it into the woods alone with nothing but a beeping radio transmitter to discern its whereabouts, made for genuinely tense television.

Buchanan was aided in his quest by local bear biologist Dr Lynn Rogers, who introduced him to his favourite female, Lily, and her cute young cub, Hope. Rogers' methods are unconventional: he wanders calmly up to the formidable creatures and feeds them grapes to earn their trust. Eventually, he anticipates, they'll become so accustomed to his presence as to ignore him, thus allowing him to observe their authentic natural behaviour. (Won't they also, I wondered, become accustomed to the free grapes?)

During the course of filming, Buchanan was nipped gently in the thigh by Lily, but it was Rogers' scientific principles that really came back to bite him. The bear and her child became separated, and the scientist found the starving cub, which presented him with a dilemma: allow nature to take its course, or intervene to reunite his research subjects? Even Springwatch lets its ducklings die. But given that Rogers' assistant was blubbing, and that he'd sentimentally christened the cub "Hope" in the first place, what do you think he did?

As the teaser for tonight's second episode made clear, however, there's every chance that Hope may yet die anyway, a turn of events that would be truly Herzogian in its symbolism. As the wistful acoustic soundtrack started up, I could think only of the great Bavarian director's chilling words: "Chaos, hostility, unt murder"...

These, conveniently, were also the themes of ITV1's 9pm offering. Lynda La Plante's Prime Suspect rose above its generic title to become a televisual classic. Her latest creation, Above Suspicion: Deadly Intent, is unlikely to live long enough in the mind to transcend its two generic titles. La Plante might just as well have called it "Under Suspicion: Sudden Death", or "Crime Drama: Some Coppers Investigate Some Murders". It does, at least, feature Kelly Reilly and Ciaran Hinds as its chief investigating officers, both of whom have the chops to deliver their equally generic lines with almost enough conviction to be plausible.

The preposterous genre clichés piled up faster than the bodies: a bent ex-cop; a man who alters his identity with cosmetic surgery, then ungratefully knocks off the surgeon; an autistic savant with a head for numbers. The new drug I assumed La Plante and co had invented as their MacGuffin – fentanyl – actually exists (I looked it up) and is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Nevertheless, I'd stopped paying much attention to the plot by the end of the hour, once I realised I'd have to tune in to two more episodes to find out who the man with the new face might be, and whether the autistic chap can count matchsticks as quickly as Dustin Hoffman.

Rory McGrath has undergone a transformation (not, I must warn you, a cosmetic one) from professionally sarcastic panel show contestant to professionally earnest chronicler of provincial quirk. Remarkably, the first series of The Lakes, his show about a summer in the life of some charming Cumbrian eccentrics, seems to have passed me by. It must have done rather well, or else been generously funded by the British Tourist Authority, because the opening episode of the second series – back by popular demand! – was filled with expensive helicopter shots of the region's scenery.

I tend to distrust the notion, perpetuated here by McGrath, that country folk are somehow innately friendlier than city-dwellers. But sailing enthusiast Joe and his sailing enthusiast fiancée, Lindy, did seem jolly pleasant, as did Rob the micropig farmer, and marathon-running, Channel-swimming Thomas "Gladiator" Noblett, who was born with his feet the wrong way round.

Joe and Lindy's wedding plans were, naturally, sailing-themed, with the groom arriving by boat for the ceremony at Ullswater's Inn on the Lake. What went strangely unmentioned, however, was that the same hotel was once the setting for another television show called The Lakes: Jimmy McGovern's 1990s melodrama, filmed at Ullswater, boasted infidelity, gang rape and the drowning of three schoolgirls among its plotlines. The grittiest bit of drama in McGrath's version was weather-based: would the sun shine on Joe and Lindy's big day? Do bears shit in the woods?

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

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.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn