Random, Channel 4
Wilfred, BBC3
Doctor Who, BBC1

The singular power of a poetic monologue is lost in its transfer from the London stage

Call me dogmatic, but there are some things TV producers should leave well alone.

Kerry Katona. Arthurian legend. Travelogues, when not presented by Michael Palin. And, I would contend, poetry. Don't get me wrong – some of my best friends are bardic. But the art form's imaginative scope is easily compromised by the visual demands of the small screen.

Such was the case with Random, an adaptation of Debbie Tucker Green's poetic monologue. Charting an extraordinary day in the life of an Afro-Caribbean family shattered by street violence, it was staged at the Royal Court in 2008 to general acclaim. That production's actress, Nadine Marshall, was back on board for a tale whose dramatic crux could not help but acquire extra resonance in the wake of riotous events.

You could see how this would make arresting theatre. Performing in a spotlit studio, the laser-eyed Marshall flicked back and forth between the various members of the household with quicksilver ease – from the sternly exasperated mum burning the porridge to the languidly self-assured son swaggering off to school, and his disaffected sister, full of bilious life musings. Each with their own distinctive patois patter, they were brought to life with astounding physical and vocal precision.

But, oh, the annoying embellishments. There were snippets of location scenes, featuring other actors. Camerawork that was both restlessly edited and relentlessly off-kilter. And selected phrases flashing up on screen as emotional bullet points. Tucker Green's sinuous verse desperately needed some room to manoeuvre; instead, come the tragic bombshell, I was rather too muddled to be moved. Not so with the final scene, however, which panned around the dead boy's bedroom as his sister lamented its obsolete contents: poetry in appropriate motion, for once.

Back on lighter ground, Wilfred flew under most critical radars when it launched last week. Was its misfortune to be on BBC3? After all, recent news of BBC4 budget-slashing has prompted the lip-smacking middle-aged culturati to heap ever more righteous indignation upon its youth-oriented cousin – so blithe to their patently worthier tastes as it happens to be.

It's a shame, anyway, because this silly dog story is assuredly great stuff, whatever your demographic. Emerging from his post-Tolkien lull, Elijah Wood plays Ryan, a fretful ex-lawyer cum quarter-life drifter. Coming off a failed suicide attempt, he finds solace in his interaction with his neighbour's pooch – though one that appears to him not as a bona-fide Fido but as an obnoxious Australian man (Jason Gann) in a floppy-eared suit.

But forget the delusional conceit: a trenchant study of male psychosis this is not. Rather, the premise is a launchpad for a buddy comedy that matches salty wit with sly sentimentality. Indeed, their cross-species comradeship most readily brings to mind the sweet boy-tiger pairing of Bill Watterson's comic strip Calvin and Hobbes – albeit with pot trumping peanut butter on their list of dietary choices.

Gann, meanwhile, is a bit of a revelation. Lewd, puckish and yet somehow completely loveable, he invests Wilfred with an acerbic humanity that plays to every pet owner's anthropomorphic fantasies. I especially liked his reaction to the gift of a bone in this week's episode. "That's like giving a basketball to a black guy," he griped.

Finally, to the good Doctor Who, which returned from a mid-season hiatus to the usual fanboy fervour. I say that because I know a couple of addicts, Argos-bought Sonic Screwdrivers, Tardis phone covers and all, even though, until this week I hadn't watched a single, full episode of Russell T Davies's revival. Blame it on contrariness, and feel free to revoke my critical licence forthwith.

Anyway, having made the belated plunge, I was expecting to be thoroughly lost by "Let's Kill Hitler" and I was, joyfully so. Confusion, after all, seems woven into its very fabric, the Doctor and his gang hamming up their constant bemusement while serving up knowingly indigestible exposition.

Take this sojourn to the Third Reich, in which the Führer was swiftly despatched to a cupboard to make way for a byzantine tale, involving mini time-travellers dishing out retrospective justice, a robot of assistant Amy Pond, and Alex Kingston on wickedly flirty form as the Doctor's love interest River Song/Amy's daughter Melody. Utterly charming as both script and performers are – and really, how does Matt Smith make that 28-going-on-68 thing so sexy? – I think I'm converted. Six years too late, mind you. Now, where's that TV reviewer's Tardis?

Arts and Entertainment

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Metallica are heading for the Main Stage at Reading and Leeds Festivals next summer

Music

Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain's daughter Frances Bean Cobain is making a new documentary about his life

Music

Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp

TV Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp

Arts and Entertainment
TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tvThe two new contestants will join the 'I'm A Celebrity' camp after Gemma Collins' surprise exit
News
The late Jimmy Ruffin, pictured in 1974
people
News
Northern Uproar, pictured in 1996
people

Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the new Paddington bear review

Review: Paddingtonfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Tony stares at the 'Daddy Big Ears' drawing his abducted son Oliver drew for him in The Missing
tvReview: But we're no closer to the truth in 'The Missing'
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
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.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
    10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
    Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
    'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

    'I am a paedophile'

    Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital