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Mark Peters

 

What would you do if the world as you know it suddenly ended? How would you cope if you woke up tomorrow morning to find a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by zombies, some of whom are hiding behind your curtains? Would you be the one to step up and save the world?

In his latest thought-provoking stunt, Derren Brown: Apocalypse (TVB Pearl, tonight at 8.30pm), the titular hypno-goblin summons his magical powers and convinces an unsuspecting participant, Steven, that a catastrophic meteorite shower has just crashed into Earth. Believing he is now in his own horror story and one of only a handful of survivors uninfected by a zombie virus, poor Steve is thrown head first into a stream of psychological challenges crafted to teach him the true value of his "missing" family and the life he has just "lost".

What begins as a seemingly cruel prank played on your typically insolent twenty-something soon turns into a life-affirming experiment as Steven, who has taken his comfy life for granted, battles to escape an invasion of the undead that would have most of us wetting our pants. Gleefully manipulated in Truman Show fashion by Brown and a huge cast of actors, Steven rises to the occasion and, facing his ultimate wake-up call, begins to reveal his true character and courage. Will he save the girl and see his family again? Will his underwear remain dry?

Renowned for his psychic and paranormal television spectaculars, Brown insists he possesses no mystical abilities and that his controversial stunts have always been an inventive combination of misdirection, psychology and magician showmanship. The two-part Apocalypse is no exception and continues the British mentalist's impressive run of compelling social TV experiments, cementing his position as the audacious maestro of mind control.

If you're a fan of detective Sarah Lund and her chunky knitted jumpers you'll have no doubt devoured all three series of Forbrydelsen (on DVD, as it's never made it to these TV shores), the haunting Danish crime drama, which proved to be an unexpected cult hit across Europe before it was adapted and transported to North America as The Killing.

Copenhagen was swapped for the equally dreary Seattle but the remake follows the successful brooding melodrama of the original. Given the recent popularity of Nordic noir (Wallander, The Bridge, Borgen), however, aren't we missing out on the gift of language and cultural exchange by watching such remakes, just to avoid having to read subtitles? The Killing, the third season of which begins on Tuesday (Fox Crime, 10.50pm), is not a bad show - far from it, in fact; it's an absorbing story that's beautifully written and well acted - but if you have already witnessed its far superior predecessor, subtitles and all, then it's only going to be disappointing.

If you find bleakness in Seattle a tad too gloomy, then fear not, because the repugnant boys of Paddy's Pub are back to remind us that It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (above). A ninth season of depraved and deplorable fun begins this Wednesday at 10pm, on FX.

A fine week of television to look forward to, then - unless, of course, your zombie flatmate has eaten the remote control.

 

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