Critic’s Picks: ‘Bletchley Circle,’ ‘Revolution,’ ‘New Girl’/’Mindy Project’


Each week Times TV Critic Mary McNamara offers her viewing picks for the coming week:

“Bletchley Circle”: Socially provocative and gorgeously acted, this three-part British miniseries, which ends this week, rather astonishingly manages to leverage the current enthrallment with period dramas (it’s set in 1952), the eternal fascination with suspense procedurals involving serial killers and the roots of modern feminism.

A group of four women become friends while working in a top-secret department of British intelligence known as Bletchley Park, in which they used pattern analysis and general brilliance to break German codes. After the war, however, they scatter, forced, like so many women, to return to the confines of “normal life.” When a series of gruesome murders occur, Susan (the always wonderful Anna Maxwell Martin) begins to see a pattern. Going to the police produces no results, so she reaches out to her Bletchley Park pals and soon they are back in business.


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Apart from being a fine and tricky murder-mystery, “Bletchley Circle” explores the psychological minefield of the post-war experience from a variety of angles, including and especially the women who, for a unique and limited time, were valued for their intellectual talents, only to be given a permanent pink slip after the war’s end. PBS 10 p.m.

“Revolution”: “What do you do when the lights go out?” has become “How do you cope when they might come back on?” Possibly the first post-post-apocalyptic show, “Revolution” is now examining the perils and possibility of a technological restart in the midst of a battle for the soul of the nation. Things get confusing, and visually cluttered at times, but the corruptive tendencies of power give things a tonally fixed point and it’s always exciting to pit advanced wiliness against advanced weaponry. How the women keep their hair so soft and shiny in a world without conditioner, however, remains a mystery. NBC, Monday, 9.

“New Girl”/”Mindy Project”: With its one-two punch of ensemble wackiness, Fox is making Tuesday the new Thursday. Let the cable networks experiment with the blurred lines of humor and drama; these two shows are unapologetically and exuberantly comedies, in the old-time sense. They will make you laugh, out loud. And if that’s not enough, Rob Reiner once again guest stars on this week’s “New Girl.” Fox, Tuesday, 8:58/9:30