Parents of the Band (Friday 8.30pm, BBC1)
Oh dear, this could get messy. This Jimmy Nail starring sitcom casts the Geordie crooner as one of a group of parents who want to muscle in on the band being formed by their teenage offspring. Okay, it doesn’t sound that bad, but it misfires from the start with a mercilessly low gag rate. Is it too late to bring back After You’ve Gone?
The IT Crowd (Friday 10pm, C4)
Ah, this is more like it. It takes a misguided attempt at sitcom like Parents of the Band that really makes you appreciate the quality of The IT Crowd. A trio of central characters that work well together, some nicely executed performances, comedy that ranges from observational to absurdity, and, most important of all, some gags that make people laugh. It’s not a classic, but at least it is funny.
Merlin (Saturday 7.35pm, BBC1)
This week’s tale of everyday magic folk is called The Labyrinth of Gedref, which has a delicious, Tolkein air about it. Silly Arthur, he’s gone and killed a unicorn, which is a Very Billy Thing To Do as it brings a curse down on Camelot. Ooops! Guess who’s going to save the day…
Outnumbered (Saturday 9pm, BBC1)
Perhaps the best show on the box at the moment, and if you’re not watching, then shame on you! Outnumbered is sublime and familiar and laugh out loud funny as Claire Skinner and Hugh Dennis attempt to keep their boisterous brood under control. Hugh Dennis is just brilliant, which is a surprise as he’s probably best known to a wider audience (outside Radio 4) as a low rent secondary character in My Hero (shudder). In tonight’s episode, granddad moves in and TV is banned for the day. Are they mad?!
Rebus (Saturday 9pm, Alibi)
John Hannah is a better Rebus than Ken Stott. Discuss.
Wallander (Sunday 9pm, BBC1)
A lavish new detective drama for BBC1 that brings Kenneth Branagh back to television for a very welcome turn as Inspector Kurt Wallander, based on the books by Henning Mankell. Swedish detective Wallander investigates the links between a girl’s suicide and the brutal slaying of a government minister. Branagh is good casting for Wallander, and if these adaptations are well done, they should fly. Van der Valk for the Noughties?
Louis Theroux: Law and Disorder in Philadelphia (Sunday 9pm, BBC2)
Louis Theroux’s quiet yet subversive charm is always fascinating to watch as he uses his seemingly harmless air of bemusement to get under the skin of people in a variety of extreme environments. In this revealing piece that sees Theroux play ride-along with the Philadelphia police force’s rapid response unit. Even the unflappable Louis for once looks a little rattled by some of the quite shocking scenes encountered on the streets of the city. Good stuff.