Poker Face, a 1970s-style “murder of the week” crime series, has already taken the US by storm, says Ed Power in The Telegraph, and now it’s finally arrived in the UK. The “charismatically husky” Natasha Lyonne stars as Charlie, a cocktail waitress with a “semi-mystically ability to detect lies”. She’s a “rasping powerhouse”, seeming possessed by the “restless spirit of post-Godfather, pre-Scent of a Woman Al Pacino”. It’s also chock-full of “game-for-a-chuckle” guest stars, from indie-cinema doyenne Chloë Sevigny to The Pianist’s Adrien Brody, and the tapestry of forlorn diners, sweltering rib joints and dingy bars gives the programme the authentic feel of the “American underbelly”. Anyone who claims not to like it “is probably telling porky pies”.
Creator Rian Johnson has spotted the perfect gap in the market, says Chris Longridge in Digital Spy. We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to “overstuffed, sagging 10-part dramas” full of cliff-hangers, where you either wait weeks and weeks or schedule a marathon binge to find out the ending. But with Poker Face, each episode has a “different location, a different crime and a mostly different catch”, meaning the whole story is neatly wrapped up in an hour-long episode. “You got it: it’s Columbo for a new generation.” Busy viewers looking for something they can dip in-and-out of will be hard pushed to find more “pacey, snackable TV”.
What you may have missed
Barry is both one of the “very best things on television” and one of the “most criminally overlooked”, says Stuart Heritage in The Guardian. The premise – a comedy about a hitman (Bill Hader) who decides to become an actor – makes it sound like the “hackiest sitcom imaginable”. But not only is it hilarious funny; it’s also as tense as Breaking Bad, occasionally terrifying, and has skirmishes and shootouts to rival any action movie. A special mention must go to Sarah Goldberg for her role as Barry’s on-off girlfriend Sally – she “might just qualify as the best actress working in television today”. The final episode aired last weekend; all four seasons are available to stream on NowTV here.