I may never forgive More4 for shamelessly losing the rights to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – I still cry about it every night – but it has recently started to quietly invest in quality shows. The superb Boss began its unfortunately short run last night (Thursday 11pm More4) with an incredible tour de force in acting by Kelsey Grammer, who plays Mayor Tom Kane of Chicago, suffering from a degenerative illness. Exhilarating and chilling in equal measure his performance is something not to be missed in a show which is scheduled for a film to conclude two seasons that I look forward to completing quickly. The smart, powerful and uncompromisingly brutal writing from Farhad Safinia serves to enhance the programme from being just another political drama or a vehicle for ‘Frasier’.
Nashville (Thursday 10pm More4) is another quality recent addition. TV shows based around music do not always have great reputations for drama (see Glee, Smash, Hannah Montana) but this has excellent pedigree. Written by Callie Khouri, who also wrote Thelma & Louise, it should come as no surprise that the main protagonists are two strong, successful and well rounded women fighting against the patriarchal society that they inhabit. The always excellent Connie Britton plays Rayna James, a faded country music superstar in, you guessed it, Nashville. Her fight is in trying to stay relevant when her family need her, her age is against her and her husband is determined to run for political office with the aid of her tyrannical father. Hayden Panettiere plays Juliette Barnes, the Taylor Swift-like young, arrogant superstar who has the looks, the youth and the following but lacks the respect that she so desperately craves. Add in Clare Bowen as the naive, scared but supremely talented waitress Scarlett O’Connor and there are three women occupying the three main roles on a US TV show not called Girls. Wonderful stuff. (And this song gave me goosebumps)
And then of course you have the mainstays of More4. Father Ted, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Time Team, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Come Dine With Me and wonderful documentaries. I will never complain about seeing Father Ted reruns, you hear me, NEVER. And my mum will never complain about seeing Time Team reruns, you hear me, NEVER (except for last night when she bemoaned the fact that they will no longer be making it). Of course Curb is pretty, pretty, prettay good and Come Dine With Me is always good for a cheap laugh or two. The documentary strands including Cutting Edge, Dispatches and Britain: My New Home (Friday, 9pm More4) are always thought provoking and well made.
As with any channel there aren’t always programmes to your taste. I’m not a fan of Grand Designs, Location, Location, Location or any of the aspirational property TV but they are big viewer favourites and you always need them to support quality drama. If you like those then good luck to you. And if not, there’s always Kelsey Grammer.