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8 crime mini-series to watch this weekend

8 crime mini-series to watch this weekend
Image: Sky Atlantic
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Kate Winslet’s latest drama, Mare of Easttown, has been winning praise from critics and viewers alike. The seven-part series, currently available on Sky Atlantic, is a reminder that - in a world of sprawling box-sets - the old-fashioned crime mini-series still packs a serious punch.

Here are eight others worth a watch:

Your Honor, Sky Atlantic/NowTV

There is a class of actor who can sell a new show on their face alone. And judging by the promo campaign for Your Honor - which features little more than the pensive mug of its star - we can safely assume that Bryan Cranston has now reached its level.

First the obvious point: Your Honor isn’t Breaking Bad. That said, there are some pleasing thematic similarities for Cranston, as he once again finds himself in the shoes of a respectable family man forced to contemplate the unthinkable. Well worth a watch.

The Virtues, 4oD

Former Skins wunderkind Jack Thorne has been collaborating with Shane Meadows for years now through the excellent This is England series. But it’s their more recent standalone project - released four years after the skinhead epic wrapped up - that stands as their best work to date.

The fantastic Stephen Graham plays a recovering alcoholic who embarks on a gut-wrenching journey to confront a long-suppressed childhood secret. As you might expect from that précis (or even just the inclusion of Graham himself) this is no easy watch. It is, though, impeccably executed.

The Plot Against America, Sky Atlantic/NowTV

If there’s a modern novel that deserves the chance to breathe over six episodes then Philip Roth’s seminal work of alt-history (in which Hitler-appeasing Charles Lindbergh becomes America’s 32nd president) is as good a candidate as any.

With David Simon and Ed Burns (creators of The Wire) at the helm, this stellar adaptation takes its time to really do justice to Roth’s world-building: looking at how the election of a nativist and isolationist president, determined to keep the US out of the second world war, affects different members of a mid-sized Jewish community in New England.

McMafia, iPlayer

While the BBC is never going to match the firepower of Netflix and Amazon in the great drama war, they do like to fire the occasional shot. And McMafia, an extremely glitzy thriller partly based on Misha Glenny’s journalism, shows why that’s no bad thing.

James Norton stars as Alex Goldman, a polished City boy looking to cast off the shadow of his father - a highly-connected Russian plutocrat knee deep in organised crime. As with its predecessor The Night Manager, McMafia is deliciously high-budget - spending as much on glam locations than the average Beeb drama does across the board. At least on this occasion license-fee payers get their money’s worth.

The People vs OJ Simpson, Netflix

This big budget retelling of the trial that captivated the world back in the 90s is generally regarded as a high-mark for box-set television. And rightly so.

With a script that experty squeezes every point of intrigue from its subject matter and a cast (John Travola, David Schwimmer, Cuba Gooding Jnr) fit for a Hollywood blockbuster, it doesn’t take long to realise you’re on to a winner.

Six years after its release, The People vs OJ Simpson remains the finest ever dramatic depiction of a real-life criminal trial - doing justice to Jeffrey Toobin’s seminal book on the matter.

The Night Of, Sky Atlantic/NowTV

Given the kind of acclaim bagged by HBO’s The Night Of, it’s a miracle that none of the streaming services have been throwing their cheque-books at a second season. Goodness knows they like to string out a hit for as long as humanly possible.

Inspired by a BBC drama on the same theme, The Night Of follows a college student - played by our very own Riz Ahmed - fighting desperately to clear his name after being accused of murdering a love interest. Not the most novel premise; but - as those reviews attest - very well executed. Another string to an already weighty bow for the Oscar-nominated actor.

Viewpoint, ITV Player

Image: ITV

It hasn’t been easy to film television dramas in lockdown-addled Britain, which is perhaps why ITV’s new police thriller opens with a minimalistic premise: with much of the ‘action’ taking place in a surveillance apartment where DC Martin Young (Noel Clarke) is authorised to keep a window watch on a potential murder suspect.

Still, the drama is off to a promising start, with Clarke - once best known for low-bit London gangster films - continuing to mature as an actor. The inclusion of veteran Phil Davis amongst the cast (so far in a minor role) suggests future episodes will push beyond the Rear Window psychodrama and onto classic crime territory.

Sharp Objects, Amazon Prime

After the success of Gone Girl - both in its literary and cinematic forms - HBO turned their eyes to author Gillian Flynn’s back catalogue and, specifically, her even darker debut novel, Sharp Objects.

Amy Adams stars as a battle-hardened reporter who returns to her Missouri hometown to investigate the murders of two young girls, while Patricia Clarkson stuns as her overbearing mother - a sociopathic former socialite whose characterisation borrows equally from the works of Stephen King and Tennesee Williams.