The Weekend's Television: Louis Theroux: The City Addicted to Crystal Meth, Sun, BBC2
Revelations: Talking to The Dead, Sun, Channel 4
Rock'n'Roll Hotel, Fri, BBC1

California screaming

"I'm studying to be a drug counsellor," said Diane, in Louis Theroux: the City Addicted to Crystal Meth.

She grinned a little sheepishly as she said this, the awkward fact being that Diane is also addicted to crystal meth and currently gets high around four times a day with her husband Karl. Empathising with her clients was going to be no problem. Remembering to turn up to her appointments with them might be. It has to be said that neither Diane nor Karl looked like typical meth-heads. The modest house where they lived appeared neat and clean – rather than an insanitary sty – and their relationship was clearly durable. The longest time they'd spent apart was seven-and-a-half years, the result of two inconveniently overlapping prison sentences, but incarceration aside they'd bucked the meth-head trend, which is for a trail of broken and violent relationships. They even seemed to have fairly reasonable dentition, rather than the mouthful of broken urinals that is one of the drug's gifts to its devotees. But they were both hooked, and, one sensed, not enormously interested in getting unhooked. Diane wept at the thought of her five children, all lost to her, but when asked about rehab Karl was dismissive: "Rehab only helps those who are ready to quit and if you're ready to quit you don't need rehab."

Theroux filmed his documentary in Fresno – a Californian city which is the crystal-meth capital of the United States – and it was a bleak landscape he captured: flat agricultural land filled with strip malls and paste-board houses and populated (from this partial perspective) by grievously damaged people who were doing an inordinately good job of damaging the people next in line. When Theroux visited a former dealer called Kevin, he discovered Kevin's infant children wandering round the house as his cronies got high. Shouldn't they, umm, perhaps be in bed? he asked, all trademark hesitancy. "We cain't be asleep when they're up," replied one of Kevin's friends in a "duh" tone of voice. This way, he implied, adults and infants could synchronize their crashes. Other children had survived relatively unscathed into teenagehood – if seeing your mother only on supervised visits counts as unscathed. And Theroux didn't probe to hard about the economic underpinning of a £100-dollar-a-day habit. Asked about his relationship with one of his friends, Kevin said: "Really, I'm like his manager. He gets stuff and I tell him what it's worth and help him sell it."

Theroux also visited a rehab centre where drug workers were struggling to cope with the social costs of this breakdown – a regime that seemed to consist of a lot of low-rent Jeremy Kyle sessions, in which users and relatives confronted each other in front of an audience who clapped and whooped at each positive affirmation. It didn't seem to be working very well. Senteka – who'd sworn blind that she was clean and going to stay that way – was last shown back in prison. At the film's end, Diane was still doing meth, and Karl revealed that at least one of the sources of the pain she was attempting to dull was her own childhood, when she'd been pimped out by her parents to drug dealers in return for a couple of rocks. "It look tempting, Louis, eh? It look tempting?" Kevin had asked, lighting up in front of the reporter earlier in the programme, oblivious to the fact that he had the only angle in the room from which it didn't look like hell.

Richard Alwyn, who made Revelations: Talking to the Dead, a film about a spiritualist church in east London, described himself as having what he'd thought of as a "healthy scepticism" when he began work. Not nearly healthy enough from my perspective, since it faltered in the face of a pretty underpowered lucky guess from one congregant about what his dead grandfather had been like. A healthily sceptical film about spiritualism would be very dull, since it would have to include all the errors and false starts and cul-de-sacs that mediums stumble through as they grope their way to their "astonishing" revelations about the dear departed. Still, in comparison to crystal meth this particular anodyne is relatively benign, even if it exploits similar griefs and fears, and in the end Alwyn's gentleness with his subjects came across as tender-hearted rather than dumb. I loved the headline from the Psychic News too: "Diver Claims to Have Seen Steve Irwin in Spirit Form". Wouldn't you think his spirit might prefer dry land?

Rock'n'Roll Hotel is a jolly-enough study in character, the character in question being Mark Fuller, a nightclub owner who is converting a Soho building into a boutique hotel for musos. His mobile appears to have the Carmina Burana as a ringtone, which I can't feel is the best way to ease the pressure of the fact that almost every call is more bad news.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
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
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
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
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.

    Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
    Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

    Stolen youth

    Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
    Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

    Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

    He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
    Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

    Made by Versace, designed by her children

    Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
    Anyone for pulled chicken?

    Pulling chicks

    Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
    9 best steam generator irons

    9 best steam generator irons

    To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing