BBC One’s addictive new series The Tourist shows that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel in order to keep viewers entertained.
What I mean is that this Australia-set thriller is full of events and character-types you’ve probably seen in loads of other films and TV shows from the past, but it’s packaged in such a sleek, confident way you won’t mind in the slightest.
The first episode in particular had so many intriguing incidents and plot twists that I can’t imagine how any viewer would reach the end of it and think “meh – I don’t need to keep watching”.
Jamie Dornan plays The Man – yes, that really is all the information we get about him in the credits – who in the opening minutes finds himself being chased along a deserted outback highway by a giant HGV lorry.
This pulse-pounding sequence clearly owes a big debt to Steven Spielberg’s glorious debut film Duel, but as I say, you don’t mind because it’s so well done.
When the pursuit comes to an abrupt end, The Man wakes up in hospital unable to remember who he is or why someone was trying to kill him.
From then on we’re in Hitchcock territory – with more than a smattering of Fargo – as he and inexperienced cop Helen (Danielle Macdonald) try to piece together his pre-crash life as his foes close in.
The Tourist is written by brothers Harry and Jack Williams, who also penned the hit James Nesbitt series The Missing, so they’re masters at taking a simple premise and stringing it out with delicious twists that make you unable to stop watching.
The BBC are dishing out episodes of The Tourist on a weekly basis, but you can watch the entire thing on iPlayer.
It’s so skillfully done and addictive I’d be surprised if most viewers don’t devour it in one sitting.
Sugar pops big egos
Has there really not been a series of The Apprentice since 2019?
While I can’t say I’ve spent the last two years pining for its return, I’d forgotten how undeniably compelling it is to watch a bunch of alpha personalities being belittled each week for our pleasure.
The business world has been transformed by the coronavirus pandemic – but not that you’d know by this new series.
The crackpot ideas are still flowing thick and fast and wildly inflated egos are primed for popping.
I’m just pleased the boardroom confrontations at the end weren’t conducted over Teams.
Lord Sugar likes to see the whites of their eyes.
More of the same
Do we really need another Star Wars series where the main character’s face is under a mask for most of the running time?
Can’t we just skip Book of Boba Fett (Disney+) and go straight to the more exciting-sounding Obi-Wan Kenobi series?
It’s a bit soon to tell whether this saga about the fan-favourite bounty hunter will be as well-received as Lucasfilm’s previous show The Mandalorian, although alarm bells are ringing.
Star Temuera Morrison seems to lack the charisma of Mando’s Pedro Pascal and two big action sequences in the first episode were seriously lacklustre.
But it’s early days and it’s worth remembering it took The Mandalorian a few episodes before it hit its stride.
True crime at its best
The Hunt for Bible John (BBC2) was a superb two-part documentary that went beyond just being about the crimes and victims.
It also spent a great deal of time building up a vivid picture of Glasgow in the late 1960s and explained how such a deprived environment could breed the notorious serial killer.
There are lots of bad true crime documentaries out there – this wasn’t one of them.
Film of the week: JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass (Sky Showcase, Wednesday, 9pm)
If the idea of a four-part, four-hour Oliver Stone documentary about the JFK assassination is a bit much to take, then this re-edited feature-length version might be more up your street.
I’d argue that Stone’s 1991 movie is the pinnacle of his career, so the fact he’s back examining the evidence again is cause for celebration. If you’re one of those people who believes the lone gunman, you’ll likely be irritated by this deep dive down the conspiracy rabbit hole.
But, I must admit, as a neutral observer, some of the evidence Stone presents from recently declassified files sounds mighty compelling.
He still doesn’t manage to answer the big question – how could such a monumentally massive conspiracy stay quiet for so long? – but there’s lots to ponder in this entertaining polemic.