While affable British actor and comedian James Corden continues to schmooze with supermodels, rock stars and Hollywood's glitterati in the United States as host of The Late Late Show, the "chunky unit" also returns to our small screens this week as hapless trouble-magnet Phil Bourne, in the second series of adventure comedy The Wrong Mans (BBC Entertainment, Wednesday at 9.55pm).
The darkly comic caper, inspired partly by the Coen Brothers' black comedy Burn After Reading, stars Corden and the show's co-creator and writer, Mathew Baynton (the pair first worked together on award-winning comedy Gavin & Stacey), as two unassuming small-town office workers who inadvertently get entangled in a web of espionage and mistaken identity. Last season's cliffhanger saw Phil and Sam (Baynton; above right with Corden) being pursued by British intelligence service MI5 and about to get into a booby-trapped car.
Witty writing, which has an emotional depth that never hinders the storyline, ensures the show works well as a blend of action and comedy. Also helping is the fantastic comic chemistry between the show's two leads, who claim that "if series one was the frying pan, this is the fire".
With friends, family and Russian gangsters now all believing they are dead, Sam and Phil have fled to Texas, where they are under witness protection. But, once again, they find themselves in trouble, having stumbled upon a human-trafficking ring, and forge a plan to return to England. Of course, nothing goes to plan and after being banged up for drug smuggling they are left with no choice but to steal the glass eye of a white supremacist inmate. As they attempt to befriend the gang leader, Corden gets to deliver one of the show's many coffee-spitting gems: "We don't have to be racists, we just have to hang out with some. It's like watching Top Gear."
The Wrong Mans is one of the best comedies on tele-vision this year, and it succeeds in turning everyday Joes into reluctant heroes. New sci-fi crime drama Stitchers (Fox Crime, Wednesday at 10pm), on the other hand, struggles in its mission to turn geeky lab boffins into beautiful, brilliant detectives.
Aloof tech genius Kirsten Clark (Australian model Emma Ishta) is stuck in a constant déjà vu loop. Suffering from temporal dysplasia, she can't perceive the passage of time, which makes her the ideal secret agent to root around in the heads of dead people. Being dressed in a skin-tight rubber catsuit and dunked into a giant fish tank enables our sassy protagonist to be "stitched" into the minds of the recently deceased, deciphering their secrets and using their memories to solve bamboozling murders.
This NSA-ish programme is run by a handsome and flirty scientist aided by a barely-out-of-school crack squad of gifted but socially stunted tech operatives. Charged with finding the location of a bomb, Clark quickly learns to cross the line between life and death (thanks to that hi-tech jumpsuit, of course) before discovering links between her father and the covert hacking operation she is now a part of.
Playing like a fluffy lightweight teenage cross between iZombie and Criminal Minds, Stitchers may leave you wishing for your own dose of temporal dysplasia.