The documentary The Sad People Factory (TVB Pearl, Thursday June 2, at 9.35pm) explores some of the social, diagnostic and economic issues that surround, confuse and ultimately try to define the condition known as depression.
"Here we go again", I thought, depression being categorised as a purely medical and pathological condition. Having been a teenage sufferer, I know there's more to it than that.
However, the programme goes on to deconstruct this myth quite well, by opening up the conversation to psychiatrists and psychoanalysts from a number of leading research institutions. A feature of the discussions is the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual, a dictionary, if you like, of psychiatric conditions and the criteria that define them. It was first published in 1952 and evolved out of the selection, processing, assessment and treatment of soldiers by the United States armed forces in the second world war.
One of the issues with a collated dictionary of terms is the obvious lumping together of a huge range of manifestations of a complex condition and the inevitable pathologising and medicalisation this attracts. This is explored quite nicely, as is the cultural celebration of people in positions of power who are manic. At the other end of the spectrum, depression is considered negative and a sign of failure and weakness.
The programme goes on to explore the power structure that perpetuates a medicalised and pharmaceutical-based system, with claims of disease mongering being driven by a need for sick people to sustain economic viability. That the programme does not interview experts from that system does suggest a demonisation of the pharma industry, but the implication is a powerful one.
The 10-episode American horror series Outcast (Fox, Saturday, at 10pm) is based on the comic of the same name by Robert Kirkman, whose credits include Ultimate X-Men and Marvel Zombies for Marvel Comics - so a good pedigree in the screen-writing department.
Young Kyle Barnes searches for answers as to why he's been suffering from supernatural possessions his entire life, with his sister, Megan (Wrenn Schmidt; Boardwalk Empire), attempting to help him through the crisis. The pilot episode introduces us to the main ensemble and the complex relationships that intertwine the lives of people in the fictitious small town of Rome, West Virginia.
Outcast gets off to a crunchy start, introducing a rather interesting take on TV snacks. If you are terrified of … no, I'm not going to spoil it for you.
All good so far, and I'll whip on my ex-Hollywood art-director's hat to admire the high production values, with cinematography that amplifies the creepiness. There is good chemistry between the leads, whose ambiguous relationship unfolds cleverly.
The programme does suffer from predictability, however, mainly because of a saturation of films in The Exorcist mould - you know, 360-degree pea-soup - since the early 1970s. So the story strays into cliché at times, although in one scene that borrows from a cultural horror-icon, the set-up is broken nicely by a delightful twist and quite powerful kick in the face.