5 things to watch this weekend – 16 to 18 July

Expensive telly, sumptous drama... after this little lot you'll need a good old purge – what are you watching this weekend?

14 July 2021

By Peter Hill

For All Mankind

Where’s it on? Apple TV+

A single, deft tweak of history – displacing Neil Armstrong as first man on the moon – gives this series its purpose and makes one giant leap for the credibility of Apple’s streaming service. This is bold, subversive television merging soap and science, aiming for the stars. Joel Kinnaman is the lynchpin of season one, the cocky astronaut around whom things – female recruitment, lunar exploration, family problems – happen. It has valour, sacrifice and majesty, then season two chooses to eclipse it. Hard to condense the stunning performances and lyrical drama unfolding here, but it’s a place for people like Sonya Walger’s Molly Cobb, a composite whose name nods to trailblazing pilot Wally Funk. You’ll hear more of her next week when, aged 82, Funk goes into space with Jeff Bezos. For reals.

Gosford Park

Where’s it on? BFI Player

Last week we mentioned Robert Altman’s film in passing. This week it lands on BFI Player and deserves more words. A lovely tagline — Tea at four. Dinner at eight. Murder at midnight — tells the tale of a whodunnit first nurtured by Bob Balaban, who was rewarded with a role. He’s one of 16 names above the title, a collective of heavyweights with no weak link. The aggregate egos should have toppled it, but Altman orchestrates it beautifully. Tom Hollander recently gave Radio 4 a flavour of the production, recalling how there was an open invite to watch the daily rushes, where the old man would sit in the back looking on and puffing a joint.

The Forever Purge

Where’s it on? In UK cinemas from today

Celebrate Freedom Day in style, mowing down the non-compliant as the fifth and final instalment of the franchise gallops into a superspreader event near you. Those pesky Libtard rules — limiting The Purge to a single night — are ignored by a what the press kit calls ‘a sect of lawless marauders’, who decide it’s time to purify America with a cleansing that never ends. You will know what to expect, and if you don’t then hear this: Michael Bay’s involved.


Where’s it on? BBC1, Sundays, 9pm

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End the weekend with a bowl of snacks and a persistent Frenchmen. Having arrived in that magnificent series, The Missing, Julien Baptiste earned a spin-off which landed in 2019. The first season mirrored its hero by having a slight limp, its narrative veering toward absurdity pulled back by the acting power of Tchéky Karyo. This time he’s got six episodes to help Fiona Shaw, whose family have disappeared in the snowy Hungarian mountains. Conrad Khan, star of County Lines, also features so here’s hoping writer-creators Harry and Jack Williams are able to give a brilliant character a decent farewell.

The Swimmer

Where’s it on? GREAT! movies classic, Friday 9pm

My good friend Billy’s Turkish grandmother, who would welcome visitors with a bowl of cigarettes and a smile, said she knew only two great actors, whom she called ‘Kirik Dooglas’ and ‘Burch Lanchester’. She’s gone now, but Lanchester lives on through one of his best roles as Ned the amphibian adman. Attending a party, he opts to ‘swim home’ using his neighbours’ pools.

Adapted from John Cheever’s short story it’s a curio that Vincent Canby rightly christened “an open-ended hallucination.” Look out for Joan Rivers in her first credited role.