TV / DVD

Indian Summers

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Indian Summers, the most expensive drama Channel 4 has ever produced, is the explosive story of British rule in India and the natives’ fight for independence. It is set in 1932, a time when British rule is weakening. The story opens in Simla, a hill station in the Himalayas, where the British enjoy a luxurious summer and the natives wait on them hand and foot.

Cucumber, Banana and Tofu

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Banana

Channel 4’s new cross-channel series consists of three strands showing across Channel 4, E4 and 4oD — Cucumber, Banana and Tofu. The titles are references to states of male sexual arousal. This is a return to Queer As Folk territory — the taboo-breaking 1999 TV series — and none the worse for that.

Tofu is a documentary series about sexuality, while Banana and Cucumber are drama series. Cucumber, written by Russell T Davies, features Henry and Lance, a middle aged gay professional couple dealing with the fallout after they have the date night from the inner circle of Hell.

Olive Kitteridge

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Olive Kitteridge is not a happy woman. In the first two minutes of this slow-paced, bleakly humorous HBO mini-series she is preparing to shoot herself in the glorious autumn woods of Maine, northeastern US. The series is based on a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Elizabeth Stout and directed by the acclaimed film maker Lisa Cholodenko.

Most of the rest of the series is a flashback to 25 years earlier, in the 1980s. Then she was a spiky middle-aged maths teacher in a small coastal town, living with her teenage son and her husband who she finds deeply irritating.

Veep

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Armando Iannucci, writer and director of The Thick of It and In the Loop, here takes his political satire from Whitehall to the White House. Set in the office of the fictional vice-president Selina Meyer, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus of Seinfeld, Veep was touted as an American version of The Thick of It. Sadly the series does not match the comicality or great observation of its British original.

"The number two" is overpowered by a phantom president who never appears on screen. The first few episodes show Meyer struggling to accommodate the interests of both Congress environmentalists and oil barons: a task that is, of course, full of spectacular blunders and a shambolic ending. Veep needs to be complimented for depicting the close ties between big business and the political establishment.

However, in this series Iannucci fails to fully explore any wider political context, concentrating mainly on the administration itself.

Boss

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Showing Thursdays at 11pm on More4. Previous episode are available through 4OD

Boss, a US TV drama that has just premiered in Britain, focuses on the political manoeuverings of the Mayor of Chicago and his opponents. But it smacks more of The Sopranos than the West Wing, with a bit of King Lear thrown in. It is a portrait of the politician as a gangster and of the gangster as tragic hero.

Continuum

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A cop show with a lead called Cameron may not sound enticing to readers of this magazine, but stay with me. For a start, Continuum reinvigorates the tired police procedural format with a time-travel story arc, and does so more credibly than the late and unlamented Crime Traveller.

In the process it raises interesting questions about the kind of future capitalism is creating, and the role of collective action in social change.

The plot follows Vancouver cop (or "Protector") Kiera Cameron, who is transported back in time from 2077 to the present when a group of rebels called Liber8 effect a daring escape from their imminent executions. She dedicates herself to preventing them from subverting the future, in the hope that she will discover a way to return to her time.

Tsar to Lenin

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Herman Axelbank's film Tsar to Lenin provides an unparalleled film record of the Russian Revolution.

Axelbank worked at Goldwyn Pictures in New York. In 1917 he spotted a newspaper headline: Revolution in Russia! "I wish I could take motion picture there," he said. "We don't have any of our own from 1775."

The American revolutionary Max Eastman helped him make the film. An early supporter of the Bolsheviks, Eastman had travelled to Russia in the 1920s. He had close political relations with many of the leaders of the Soviet regime and especially with Leon Trotsky.

Ken Loach at the BBC

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Today Ken Loach is an internationally feted filmmaker. But he was also once a prophet in his own country. Working with a generation of radicals, he excelled at what became known as the drama-documentary - a TV genre that was socially engaged, aesthetically experimental and politically influential. It made working class people the subject of public service broadcasting. This essential collection has many of the key works which now deserve the widest rescreening for their enduring relevance and artistic courage.

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