Curfew (Sky 5, 9:30pm Fridays)
I never fully appreciated the cultural impact of Peaky Blinders until I turned on the cricket this summer and noticed the Sky Sport commentary team had all started dressing like 1920s Birmingham gangsters. "I love Peaky Blinders," Craig McMillan would be explaining seemingly every time I tuned into the New Zealand vs England test series, "it's brilliant."
Well, Macca, here's some news you're going to want to hear. The producers of Peaky Blinders have a new show and, if it manages to have anywhere near the same level of sartorial influence, then in a couple of seasons' time you might just find yourself swapping your pork pie hats and tweed waistcoats for a new wardrobe of cowboy hats and ostentatious winter coats.
Curfew is the brainchild of Peaky Blinders producer Matthew Read, who it seems has gone around pinching the best bits of several different action franchises in order to create this magpie's nest of a show. A bit of Walking Dead zombie outbreak here, a touch of Fast and Furious street racing there, add in Game of Thrones' anybody-anytime-anywhere approach to killing off characters and we're in business.
All this action takes place in a dystopian Britain, where a lethal virus (of which we don't learn the full details until a bit later in the series) has made everybody's life pure misery. This particular strain turns people into fast-moving feral zombies who come out only at night, resulting in the enforcement of the titular 7pm to 7am curfew. Yes, you do get to see a curfew-breaker being picked off one by one in the first episode - and yes, it's very scary.
Only in this hellish environment would an illegal and deadly 1000km street race begin to seem like a good idea. The winner is promised sanctuary on an idyllic virus-free island owned by medical start-up entrepreneur (and presumed mega-villain) Max Larssen (Adam Brody), who beams in via satellite to officially start the race.
For a show with such a high-octane, all-action premise, the first episode sometimes feels a little slow as it does the necessary groundwork of scene-setting and character introduction. To start with, the focus is on a couple of the race's more relatable participants, with flashbacks gradually fleshing out how they all got to this point. The one thing they seem to have in common is their mechanic: hard-nosed Errol "The General" Chambers (Sean Bean), who is also competing in the race alongside his pregnant girlfriend Faith (Rose Williams).
It's a surprisingly star-studded cast, although some of the biggest names (Miranda Richardson, Billy Zane) don't show up until the next few episodes, when the action increases and things start getting interesting. It's a confident move to hold so much back for the first hour of what is only an 8-part series, but the first episode does enough to show this weird genre mash-up is a lot more promising than it initially sounds on paper. Give it time and who knows, it could even become as big as Peaky Blinders.