TV picks of the week: Inconvenient roomies

Five shows that will keep couch potatoes glued to their screens over the coming week.
Nathan Miller (Will Arnett, centre) suddenly finds his mother back in his life and home.
Nathan Miller (Will Arnett, centre) suddenly finds his mother back in his life and home.

Pick of the Week: The Millers

When parents get divorced it can be an unsettling time for children. In the case of The Millers, the kids are all grown up and their parents' divorce is a big, fat inconvenience.

Featuring a distinguished cast, including Margo Martindale (of The Americans and Justified), Beau Bridges, Will Arnett (from Arrested Development) and Jayma Mays, The Millers revolves around what happens to an already dysfunctional family when the parents divorce after 43 years and move in with their adult children.

Nathan Miller (Arnett) is a small-time TV reporter hankering to be an anchor, who only reveals his divorce to his parents, Tom (Bridges) and Carol (Martindale) when they come to stay. Long-suffering Tom sees Nathan's split with his wife as his own opportunity to cut loose from Carol and announces, "If he gets to be single, then so do I."

Carol and Tom then move in with a child each - bumbling Tom shifts in with Debbie (Mays) and controlling Carol with Nathan - and both parents quickly begin to cramp their children's style: "I didn't get a divorce from one controlling woman just to turn around and become roomies again with the original puppet master," says Nathan.

Martindale has played some formidable maternal figures in recent times - her hillbilly gangster matron Mags Bennett in Justified especially.

Being a sitcom, her Carol might not be quite as formidable, but she does like to be in control.

"When she's trying to tell people what to do, she's really in her own mind, as I am in mine, only trying to make you a better person. So that's kind of fun to try to find the good side in that, instead of looking at it as a criticism."

The Millers, with its traditional multi-camera format and live audience, has been a welcome challenge for the 62-year-old, who describes her first few weeks on set as "terrifying". "You're out there in front of an audience, you know, you're on a tightrope without a net."

Martindale's work over the past few years - she is in Masters of Sex on SoHo, as is Bridges - has nudged her further under the spotlight and she's enjoying the recognition. "People used to stop me and say, 'Don't you work at the post office?' 'No, but I've played that person,' and then I say, 'I'm actually an actress.' They go, 'Oh no, that's not it. You couldn't be an actress."'

The Millers is the latest show from Greg Garcia, the creator of My Name is Earl and Raising Hope, and it's likely to appeal to fans of those.

Its first season started in the US last month, to wide-ranging reviews. Said the San Francisco Chronicle: "The show has its moments, but almost all of them belong to Martindale."

When: Sunday 9.35pm
Where: Prime
What: All in the (split) family

Comedy pick: Whites

Brit comedian Alan Davies is returning to small-screen drama this week with a new show set in the kitchen of a British country house hotel, which neatly skewers the world of professional kitchens we've come to know so well through reality TV.

Davies plays head chef Roland White (looking rather a lot like Marco Pierre White), a man who can cook with the best of them, and was on the brink of success 15 years ago, but has lost his passion for foodie brilliance somewhere along the way.

His laziness tends to get the better of him these days, along with various other distractions, like trying to write a book. His long suffering sous-chef Bib (Darren Boyd), and restaurant manager Caroline (Katherine Parkinson) buoy him along, but every dinner service is a challenging affair.

When: Sunday, 10.45pm
Where: Prime
What: Chef afflicted with lazy brilliance

Drama pick: A Mother's Son

Rosie (played by Hermione Norris) and Ben (Martin Clunes) have recently set up home together, after both separating from previous spouses, and with their respective teenage kids, created a newly merged family.

Things are a little tricky, but nothing out of the ordinary for a blended family with four teens.

When a local schoolgirl is found murdered it shakes not just the local coastal town, but the family, as Rosie starts to find evidence that seems to point to her own son, Jamie, while Ben's son, Rob, seems to have some secrets of his own.

The event begins to tear at the thin fabric holding this new family together, particularly when Rosie's aggressive ex becomes involved, and Rosie herself feels frozen by horror and doubt.

When: Sunday, 9.30pm
Where: TV One
What: Teenage son starts behaving suspiciously like a murderer

Comedy pick: Getting On

It may be a remake of a BBC series of the same name, but with Getting On, HBO has created another show that refuses to tiptoe around the edges and instead leaps straight into the world of geriatric care in all its difficult, awkward glory.

It follows the daily lives of a dysfunctional ragtag staff of nurses and doctors in the elderly care unit of a Californian hospital as they struggle with the darkly comic realities of caring for patients who are, well, getting on, in an overwhelmed healthcare system. It stars Laurie Metcalf as Dr James, who was hoping to become a medical research star but has found herself ground down by wayward patients; Alex Borstein as Nurse Dawn, whose obsession with finding a man undermines her work; and Niecy Nash as Nurse Didi, the no-nonsense newbie.

When: Thursday, 8.30pm
Where: Soho
What: Laughs amongst the trials of ageing

Wildlife pick: Shark Week

Ah yes, just in time for summer, ready to get you feeling all apprehensive about swimming in the ocean, it's Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week. Feared, admired, threatened, and misunderstood, sharks have a special place in the minds of many, and Shark Week hopes to go beyond that with shows that look at the science of shark behaviour, and amazing stories of survival and up-close encounters.

Up first is a documentary from natural history producer Jeff Kurr, called Great White Serial Killer. Kurr investigates two fatal shark attacks off California, using evidence found at both sites to try and determine whether one shark was responsible for both attacks.

Next they screen Return Of Jaws (Sunday, 8.30pm) in which a robot submarine is used to track Great Whites off the shores of Cape Cod.

When: Daily from Sunday, 7.30pm
Where: Discovery Channel
What: Following fins and jaws

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