Damages (Sundays, 10.20pm, BBC1)

Take a soundtrack by LA band The VLA; a cast that throws together Ted Danson, Rose Byrne and Glenn Close; and a disorienting non-linear storyline, and you begin to understand why Damages is so quietly addictive.

Despite a slow start, series two is rapidly proving every bit as compelling as the first. A fantastic comic performance from Danson, whose character Arthur Frobisher has hilariously turned to mystic healing to atone for past wrongdoings, provides the perfect counterpoint to the show's otherwise relentlessly dark timbre.

But the true acting accolades go to Close as ruthlessly manipulative lawyer Patty Hewes, who is seemingly devoid of any moral compass. The most chilling aspect of the show? The evil characters - and there are many - are all too believable.
Poppy Brech

The Speaker (Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8pm, BBC2)

Speaking in public can be horrifying, even for the experienced. And children speaking in public can be horrifying to watch, especially when they are addressing an intimidating line-up comprising comedian Jo Brand, ex-basketball player John Amaechi and RADA drama tutor Jeremy Stockwell. Listening to the auditions - hundreds of kids' speeches - was deeply tedious.

It had some good points, and I liked the naivety and occasional swagger of the kids on the show. Unlike older reality TV participants, they were guileless and just happy to be on telly, so were innocently funny. But my biggest problem with The Speaker is that it conjured up a terrifying vision of a future where children take to their soapboxes about why going to bed early is wrong.
David Constable