As a rule, I try to steer clear of jumping on any bandwagons. The reasons for this are two-fold. Firstly, I have never knowingly been fashionable and secondly my legs are quite short and I’d hate to be dangling off the wagon with my backside hanging out of my cords.
Thus, I was a little taken aback by the furore surrounding the return of Succession to Sky this week, the US-based black comedy-drama focusing on the machinations — and there are many — of the despicable Roy family.
I had kind of heard about it before and like a 21st century Henry Kelly returning to Going for Gold, I was a little nervous of playing catch-up, as there have already been two seasons of the HBO show that have gathered more gold than your average Luxembourger on Henry’s watch.
To those not in the know, Logan Roy, played by Brian Cox (the old, gnarly one, not the one with the telescope) is the patriarch of Waystar Royco, a multi-headed media behemoth with a world of other assorted shady businesses.
Since series one he has been on his way out, apparently, and thus his equally contemptible offspring have been battling it out to succeed him, hence the name of the show.
Helpfully the producers welcome us wagon hoppers aboard with a resume of the season two finale when Logan’s son, Kendall, spills the beans on all sorts of wrongdoing and fingers his dad for them.
And that’s where the fun starts.
I’ll admit it’s not an easy ride. If you like your drama more along the Heartbeat or Hetty Wainthropp Investigates route, then this isn’t going to be your thing.
We meet Logan and the non-Kendall siblings and hangers-on at an airport where they discuss their next move, the options being offered as ‘either New York or Geneva or London or Singapore or Los Angeles’.
Now, if this was Del Boy you’re going to need a bigger van to get all those names on, for Logan Roy you split into two planes and while some are sent to New York, you go to Sarajevo because you can’t be extradited, thus why Peckham was ruled out.
Meanwhile, back in the Big Apple, Kendall, a man with all the warmth of Pingu eating a Pear Picking Porky on an ice flow, has somehow managed to align himself with cousin Greg, who is as bright as a three-watt bulb. One of his tasks is to gauge his ‘cultural thermometer’ — that is ‘before I get my media monitoring in place, I might need you to stick the socio-political thermometer up the nation’s a** and take a reading’.
As I said, Hetty Wainthropp this is not.
Greg is a marvellously dim character, so watch him rise to greatness, his line of the episode telling a chuffed Kendall that the Pope has started following him on Twitter, only to reveal in the blink of the eye that ‘it’s a pope, not the Pope’.
In amongst the backstabbing, machinations, threats, jockeying for position and general all-round skulduggery, the show is littered with some outstanding, laugh-out loud lines, mainly delivered by the masterful Cox and virtually none of them repeatable here.
I’m hooked, this is playing catch-up on a scale that Henry never imagined.
I have 20 episodes to watch now before the next instalment.
Thankfully, there aren’t just as many to get to grips with in another Sky offering as COBRA: Cyberwar returned this week, the first three episodes being served up as Robert Carlyle returns as the Prime Minister.
In the last series, I am reliably informed, the UK was going to hell in a hand cart with planes dropping out of the skies, power cuts caused by solar flares and riots on the streets. This time we have a Ukrainian oligarch killed by a vicious drone, lorries coming through the ports loaded to the gills with nuclear nastiness and, most of the Kent coast being blown up and washed away in a tsunami after an explosion on a wartime wreck and all the government’s communications have been hacked by a group called ‘Ruin Britannia’.
Ruminating whether to let the drone drivers go free or arrest them for the death of the poor man who broke the fall of the oligarch’s helicopter, the PM had a message for the wary security chief.
“You don’t get to kill an innocent British citizen and waltz off home with a new handbag and a bottle of Johnnie Walker,” he said as all thoughts turned to him as Begbie in Trainspotting when, and I am paraphrasing a little here, he hinted ‘that lassie got glassed, and no chap leaves here till we find out what chap did it’.
That’s nothing to the language I’m expecting in Succession over the coming weeks — it would make Begbie blush.