His Dark Materials

Rating 7.6
Streamer BBC iPlayer
Seasons 2
Episodes 15 x 60 mins

The first season of His Dark Materials was the telly event of the year – well, especially for all the Philip Pullman fans out there – but the second season has landed with less of a fanfare.

The impact of show still stands – you’d struggle to look at it and not be amazed that this cinematic experience could be delivered right to our living rooms – but once the awe wears off, you might not be able to stay interested. You maybe need to be a member of the Pullman fan club to fully appreciate this series, or else there’s not much there to pull(man) you in. Which is actually a testament to his writing – there are so many mystifying details laid out in the novel trilogy that it’s hard to keep up with them on telly. But the series remains a feast for the eyes: Ruth Wilson’s alarmingly well-dressed Mrs Coulter has the scariest raised eyebrows on TV, and the new world Cittàgazze’s dreamy, cobbled streets, will have you longing to pop across the channel and visit Mont Saint-Michel. There’s no doubt the show is gorgeous, but unfortunately it has been polished to within an inch of its life – it’s all shine, with none of those grubby stains and finger prints which give a show life. 

The Telegraph’s Anita Singh is apparently not a member of the aforementioned fan club, as she thinks the second season, “lacks both the novelty of series one and the exciting narrative… what was once event TV is now a middling fantasy.” Ed Cumming in The Independent agrees, saying His Dark Materials “looks great, it’s robustly made, and there are great actors everywhere…but it doesn’t inspire as much wonder as it ought to.” In The Times Carol Midgely concurred that the first episode of season two “was a fairly flat opener,” despite being “beautifully, cleverly shot.”

First shown November 2019. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here:

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