Arts and Entertainment

The Good Wife on More4 is in the midst of a reputation revision. Long-term fans of the smart, glossy legal drama, which began its fifth season on More4 last night, often complain it's not given the recognition it deserves. It's true that among crime and law procedurals (TV shows where a problem is raised and solved within a single episode) this is a show of unusual quality. But is The Good Wife really that good?

Tom Hodgkinson: 'We took a TV home. I admit I am weak'

The television is back. Five years ago, in a fit of anti-capitalist pique, I unplugged this instrument of Beezlebub. I decided that I didn't want all its horrors flooding into the family home. I didn't want The X-Factor, CBeebies, Dick and Dom, the Ten O'Clock News or the dreary gloom of EastEnders. Mr Murdoch and his evil ways could stay out of my house for ever. Like Plato, I decided to banish the playwrights and their portrayal of negative character traits from my ideal Republic. My children would grow up unsullied by the false promises of consumerism. Instead, they'd learn useful skills, carpentry and violin.

Totem, Royal Albert Hall, London

Cirque du Soleil has a highly successful formula that surrounds strong, polished circus acts with bombastic glitter and vaguely uplifting sentiment.

A production that doesn't live up to its promise: 'The French Detective and the Blue Dog'

The French Detective and the Blue Dog, Theatre Royal, Bath

In a small town "somewhere between Brussels and Bruges" a trapeze artist disguised as a laundry worker has been murdered. So opens Hattie Naylor's new musical, The French Detective and the Blue Dog, at Theatre Royal Bath's children's theatre, the egg. But this is a production that could have done with a bit longer in the incubator.

The Nutcracker, Coliseum, London

Strip away the outsize costumes and dream noodling, and marvel at the dancing
Murmurs is at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London SE1 (southbankcentre.co.uk), 20 Dec to 2 Jan

Heads Up: Murmurs

The Chaplin family circus comes to town

Surreality TV: the secret other life of George Osborne

A new web-TV comedy with a serious side is a hit – but its subject may not be laughing

Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House, London
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker / Jerome Bel, Sadler's Wells, London

Ashton, Macmillan and...Scarlett. This triple bill is a beautiful showcase of British choreography

Oscar and Al Pacino, Radio 4, Tuesday
Schtzngrmm, Radio 4, Sunday

Sorry Al, but you've been outperformed by an old Austrian poet

Holy Flying Circus, BBC4, Wednesday<br/>Mary Queen of Frocks, Channel 4, Tuesday

A dramatisation of the furore over 'Life of Brian' stayed true to the anarchic spirit of the Pythons

Matthew Norman: Who are we to demonise a man who inspires such loyalty?

If Liam Fox became a manager at McDonald's, Adam Werritty would pop up asking, 'Fries with that?'

Pythons annoyed by 'inaccurate' portrayal of debate in BBC drama

It was supposed to be a tribute to one of Monty Python's most famous moments, when the comedians took on religious figures incensed by their 1979 satire The Life of Brian. But the writers and producers behind the BBC's forthcoming comedy drama Holy Flying Circus have angered rather than flattered them.

Stephen King: The magicians of monetarism have very few tricks left up their sleeves

Developed economies are ending up with economic permafrost, where attempts to kick-start growth bump into economic reality

The 'best' joke at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival, according to 3,000 fans

He is a vitriolic stand-up who screams at his audiences – and today he has something to shout about after winning the best joke award at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival.

Sport on TV: Creatures of concrete jungle pave the way for bright future

When the five young street sports fanatics get together on Concrete Circus (Channel 4, Monday) after making their latest viral videos for the web, we're told "they meet in an anonymous urban space in London. No one notices them". Maybe in more innocent times, but now a huddle of hoodies on skateboards and BMX bikes is more likely to be something you watch on CCTV. The narrator is Dominic West, who played the cop McNulty in The Wire, and you expect someone to sidle up and try to score smack off them. For such superficial appraisals, we all deserve a smack.

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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee