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Mark Peters

 

My name is Mark and I am a natural-born pessimist.

Despite my chiselled handsomeness and rapier wit I struggle with low self-esteem and am a habitual liar (see above). There's a little devil perched on my shoulder that would happily have me scoff three muffins every day. These are my inner demons.

These are bog-standard mental turmoils, if you ask me; certainly nothing torturous enough to have driven me to harass a badger or copulate with kitchen appliances, and a relative cake walk compared with the anguish that plagued the feverishly inquisitive Leonardo da Vinci. The Renaissance poly-math had a flying machine full of inner demons to battle with during his eventful lifetime, enough, fortuitously, to flesh out a second series of Da Vinci's Demons, the far-fetched fantasy adventure series returning to our screens tonight at 10pm, on FX.

The last time we saw the 15th-century artist extraordinaire (Tom Riley; above), he had postponed his search for the Book of Leaves to save a wounded Lorenzo de' Medici amid the chaos of a sword-swinging free-for-all. But de' Medici's rekindled devotion to the artist didn't last long, once he realised the latter had also been doing the nasty with his mistress, reigniting their rivalry just before da Vinci's chief nemesis, Count Girolamo Riario, burst dramatically through the chapel doors.

Having spent most of the first season stumbling to find its feet, Da Vinci's Demons seems to have finally recognised that it isn't the mischievous younger brother of Game of Thrones it had hoped to be, and has begun to embrace its own identity.

We rejoin da Vinci, now with stubble and unkempt hair but still unable to button up his damn shirt, locked in a cell with the count as they both face decapitation by Incan warriors. Da Vinci's Demons is still ridiculously harebrained but, this season, the protagonist is less the cocky troublemaker and far more recognisable as the historical free-thinking genius we are familiar with, and with emphasis placed on the more contemplative and philosophical moments, the show is slowly starting to realise its potential.

Brand new hostage drama Crisis (Fox, Thursday at 9.50pm) is about, yep, you guessed it, a crisis. The United States president's son and a busload of his rich, spoilt classmates have been kidnapped by a well-organised army of hijackers en route to a school field trip - except the baddies aren't that well-organised. Despite being armed like The A-Team they manage to let slip the fat geeky kid, who is helped by the wounded rookie cop who was assigned to protect the presidential offspring. Thankfully, all is not lost, because chaperoning this gaggle of teenage cliches is a dorky father (Dermot Mulroney; Enlightened), who, as luck would have it, is an ex-CIA analyst.

So far so unbelievable but, hold on, it gets better. [Spoiler alert] It turns out that this unlikely parental hero is actually the criminal mastermind behind this whole, er, crisis, and he has a totally different end game planned except … in another inexplicable plot twist, the investigating FBI agent is the aunt of Amber, one of the kidnapped girls, whose mother is a billionaire chief executive (Gillian Anderson; The X-Files), who may or may not be linked to the whole dumb crisis.

Watch at your own peril.

 

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