Succession is “bigger, badder and bloodthirstier than ever”, says Alan Sepinwall in Rolling Stone. The last time we left the corrosive Roy dynasty – two years ago in real time – prodigal son Kendall (Jeremy Strong) had just publicly dropped cruel patriarch Logan (Brian Cox) and the family business in a human-rights scandal. That’s where we pick up in season three. Whistleblowing Kendall is an internet darling, yelling “F*** the patriarchy” at paparazzi. His family have started calling him “Woke-ahontas”. I hated Succession at first, but after giving it another spin during lockdown, I fell in love with its dark comedy and barb-trading “rich ***holes”. Call it Stockholm syndrome, but I’m finally sold.
“In rating terms, it’s a minnow,” says Anita Singh in The Daily Telegraph. Succession dominated the 2020 Emmys, winning outstanding drama, best lead actor, best direction, writing and casting. But the first series averaged just 150,000 viewers an episode here, and the second season had 1.1m viewers in the US. Weird. Every line of dialogue is still “a gem”. Logan and Kendall conduct a ferocious conversation over the phone, with a secretary as go-between. “I’m gonna grind his f***ing bones to make my bread,” growls Logan. “OK, well, tell him I’m going to run up the f***ing beanstalk,” says Kendall. Absurd but brilliant. The only shame is that it airs in weekly instalments. “An hour of this isn’t enough.”
Succession is on Sky Atlantic, Mondays at 9pm, and on Now TV. Watch a trailer here.
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Blair and Brown: The New Labour Revolution
Like a rockumentary about a troubled “winning songwriting partnership”, the BBC’s Blair and Brown is pure popcorn politics, says Suzi Feay in the Financial Times. It begins in 1983: although Michael Foot’s Labour is trounced at the ballot box, two young guns win Sedgefield and Dunfermline East, “and set off for Westminster to shake up an out-of-shape party”. The rising star was actually Brown, with his “tanklike intellectual domination of the discourse”. They were squeezed into a windowless basement office, recalls Blair’s speechwriter Douglas Alexander, “literally the Lennon and McCartney of the Labour party”.
The reason Blair bested Brown is clear here, says Ben Dowell in The Times. Blair is “slicker, more measured, less prone to tantrums than his erstwhile chum”. Blair tells the documentary that Brown taught him everything about politics and how to write a speech. Meanwhile, the words “it should have been me” are practically etched on Brown’s furrowed brow. But Blair’s real mentor, says Peter Mandelson, was Margaret Thatcher: Super Tone reasoned that after so many election wins, maybe “there were some things the Tories got right”. Intriguingly, Keir Starmer said of the Tories at Labour’s recent conference: “If they’re so bad, what does that say about us?” Are we ready for round two?
Not likely, says Suzanne Moore in The Daily Telegraph. I binge-watched it, “possibly out of nostalgia, possibly because the idea of a Labour government winning three terms now seems like a fairy tale”. Blair was so able, “he could have been in any party” – or, if he was American, president. Brown was granite. Robin Cook, Mo Mowlam and Clare Short were “at the top of their game”. As the poor get poorer, only Labour can save them. But a revolution requires ruthlessness. And communication. The new generation aren’t fit to tie their laces.
Blair and Brown: The New Labour Revolution is on BBC2, Mondays at 9pm, and on iPlayer. Watch a trailer here.