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10 things we learnt from watching TV last week

Downton Abbey

Feature by Tim Carson

Here’s what we learnt from watching TV between 24 October and 30th October.

1. Most of the contestants on this year’s X-factor don’t seem to be able to sing in tune. Perhaps this is the real reason for falling ratings rather than the new panel of judges. Contestants screeching their way through awful songs doesn’t make for good TV.
The X-Factor, ITV, Saturday, 8pm

2. Downton Abbey is going through a down-turn. While skipping merrily through months and years in a blink of an eye – or the flash of a date on screen – the second series seems to have taken to melodrama and slipped far too often into the ridiculous. While Matthew’s “miraculous” recovery was hardly a surprise it was hardly believable either, nor was the Earl’s snog with a maid in the cupboard. Still life is never dull at the Abbey.
Downton Abbey, ITV, Sunday, 9pm

3. The Walking Dead’s second season is thankfully just as excellent as the first despite the departure of series creator Frank Darabont. The first two episodes have been tense and gripping and carry a genuine sense of trepidation as every time a member of the “walking dead” appears you fear for the safety of pretty much every character. Genuinely scary. The Walking Dead, FX, Friday, 10pm

4. Anything starring Philip Glenister is bound to be good. The final episode of his four-part mini-series Hidden delivered a satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable and compelling tale of secret plots and dangerous dealings. It also left quite a few unanswered questions leaving the door open for the possibility of a second series which would be no bad thing.
Hidden, BBC1, Thursday, 9pm

5. Southland is one of the best cop shows in years, possibly ever. Brilliantly drawn characters with real flaws and passion, clever plots and excitingly filmed. Watch it.
Southland, More 4, Thursday, 9pm

6. Derren Brown’s a clever bastard. While his show on the mind of the mob and what we’ll do to others as part of a gameshow audience wasn’t as good as The Assassin it was still fascinating TV. Although it’s been done before as an experiment and it was obvious that the crowd would continue to opt for the cruel option every time, it was well executed with a slick, shocking ending.
Derren Brown: The Experiments, C4, Friday, 9pm.

7. The BBC’s new detective DI Richard Poole isn’t bad. The first episode of Death In Paradise saw DI Poole (perfectly played by Ben Miller) investigating the death of the former British police chief of the small Caribbean island of Saint-Marie. A typical fish out of water set up worked pretty well with a nice blend of humour and police work. Whether it’ll be enough to sustain eight episodes is less certain.
Death In Paradise, BBC1, Tuesday, 9pm

8. Everyone on The Apprentice – young or old – is annoying. The first episode of the junior version of the show proved that whoever picks contestants for the shows looks for the same thing – people you’d rather have nothing to do with. It’s sort of sad to see teenagers already exuding character traits you’d rather have beaten out of them.
The Young Apprentice, BBC1, Monday, 9pm

9. Talking of teenagers with traits you’d rather have beaten out of them – Educating Essex makes you hope that every school has a deputy head teacher like Mr Drew. While the pupils at Passmores school may not always think so, he’s a hero with the patience of a saint. You genuinely believe he wants the best for all the pupils no matter how much they rile him.
Educating Essex, C4, Thursday, 9pm

10. Battlestar Galactica – currently being re-run on Sky Atlantic – is without doubt one of the best TV shows ever made. Gritty, witty and with a twisting, shocking plot line that keeps you constantly on edge. Genius.
Battlestar Galactica, Sky Atlantic, Tuesday, 9pm

What did you learn from TV this week? Tell us…