Proclaimed by various commentators as "the greatest television show ever" (in my view, it should be sharing the podium, at least, with The Sopranos and The Wire), Breaking Bad has just wrapped up in the United States with a huge fanfare finale. Hong Kong, meanwhile, has yet to get even a whiff of the show's crystal-meth-lab fumes. Similarly, cop show The Mentalist (which proves decent viewing figures don't guarantee quality) returns for only its second season this week (Fox, tomorrow at 8pm), despite the fact that US viewers are already being treated to the fifth. Our city really does appear to be off the scheduling radar at times.
Picking up roughly where he left off in the first series, disgraced "psychic" Patrick Jane (Simon Baker; The Devil Wears Prada), whose family were murdered by serial killer Red John, continues to use his powers of observation to investigate crimes. The Red John storyline takes a back seat this series, though, leaving Jane this week to look into the murder of a woman accused of stealing US$1 million (which is almost impossible to say without putting a little finger to the corner of your mouth, a la Dr Evil in Austin Powers) from her employer. The Mentalist continues to offer fairly compelling whodunnits but it's Baker's arrogant Jane who prevents it from becoming another white-chalk outline of a killed-off crime drama.
Another series debuting here this week - some three years after its initial release, in Britain - is The Impressions Show with Culshaw and Stephenson (BBC Entertainment, Saturday at 10.45pm). Given it's a comedy programme that depends on the celebrity news it riffs off being, well, news, it is likely the show will struggle to win over an audience now. With a sketch-show format harking back to the 1990s heyday of the genre, you can't fault mimics Jon Culshaw and Debra Stephenson for their impressions. Close your eyes and they do sound like British TV personalities Davina McCall, Ross Kemp, Michael McIntyre and so on. (Culshaw's mimicking of Ricky Gervais at his most smug is especially good.) But the real problem I have with impressionists is that however "funny" the situational comedy may be - and, to be honest, this is all a bit tired and obvious - it boils down to the same reaction every time: "Oh boy! That's brilliant! Spot on! That's exactly like him … OK … err … now I'm bored; next!"
And in this case, that assumes Hong Kong viewers will even have heard of McCall, Kemp and McIntyre.
Cheffing fabulous brothers Tom and Henry Herbert (above) - one a baker, the other a butcher - give us the inside scoop on baking this week (The Fabulous Baker Brothers; TLC, Wednesday at 7.30pm), and without - thank God - a cupcake in sight. As wholesome as their own breads and pastries, the pair, who belong to the fifth generation of a family bakery business based in the Cotswolds, err more on the side of chappy than blokey, with their posh brotherly banter and ruffled hair, and their hearty British recipes are sure to arouse some taste buds.
The culinary lust is first stoked with a perfect white loaf with which to make the ultimate chip butty before being further piqued by sticky chocolate donuts. It's hardly ground-breaking stuff but it's inoffensive and while the boys' aim of showing that baking is "not just for girls" won't encourage me into the kitchen any time soon, I sure could scoff half a dozen donuts right about now.