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Mark Peters

 

Stand-up comedian Dylan Moran once proclaimed, "It's not easy being a man, you know. I had to get dressed today … and there are other pressures."

The sardonic Irishman was being more than a little ironic; as men are forever being reminded, our lot is far more comfortable than that which women have to endure. But that's not to say it's all one big cakewalk for us hairy-backed Homo sapiens; oh no.

Take fictional detective John Luther, for instance; a brooding, furrowed-browed hulk of a man, he certainly carries more than his fair share of troubles, on extremely broad shoulders, in Luther (BBC Entertainment, Thursday at 9pm). Last time we saw the detective chief inspector (Idris Elba; The Wire), the proverbial poop had been flung at the big spinning cooling device. His soon-to-be ex-wife had just been murdered by his double-crossing colleague and former best friend, who is now also dead, thanks to the itchy trigger finger of Alice Morgan (the mesmerising Ruth Wilson; Jane Eyre), a sociopathic genius with whom Luther shares a disturbing bond after he failed to convict her for murdering her own parents. Phew!

Those events seem to have left the volatile Luther beaten down and exhausted; and, having returned to work, his grieving involves a little ill-advised Russian roulette to kick-start the day. With storylines so utterly ludicrous, Luther proudly pleads guilty to all charges of absurdity. In lesser hands it would have been disastrous but Elba and the accomplished cast keep this character-driven cop drama spellbinding.

Another guy with trouble on his mind is creative maestro Don Draper. Period drama Mad Men (FX, Wednesdays at 11pm) returned last week with two-hour premiere The Doorway. Kicking off season six at the tail end of 1967, it saw Draper and Roger Sterling mulling the significance, or otherwise, of their lives. Continuing in that vein, the pace stays slow and steady; but that doesn't mean it's any less the riveting booze-and-cigarette-smoke-saturated drama we've come to know and love. The show's certainly not lethargic and with plotlines involving questions of loyalty and deception fermenting nicely, the new season is heading in an intriguing direction.

The advertising world of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is shot through with sadness and humour - not to mention outrageous chauvinism - and the eye-candy visuals continue to make Mad Men one of the most stylised, alluring and thought-provoking shows on television.

Creator Matthew Weiner has already confirmed season seven will be the last - and Mad Men will be greatly missed.

If nothing else, it demonstrates that, not so very long ago, it really was a (sexist) man's world - even if getting dressed was a process fraught with the pressure to look sharp.

 

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