As with the novel, there’s an underlying commentary about the idle rich and their brand of debauchery, barely obscured by the polished marble and fine linen. The bigger picture, however, takes a back seat to Patrick’s status as a walking time bomb, fumbling from one awkward situation the next, craving chemically induced relief.
For Showtime, this handsome co-production with Sky Atlantic nevertheless feels like a coup, a jolting exercise in awards bait — premiering near the end of the Emmy eligibility window — featuring a versatile star (he’s also been in a PBS movie and “Avengers: Infinity War” in the last month) at the height of his powers.
The pay channel is using “Patrick Melrose” to inaugurate an expansion of its original series to Saturdays, and it’s surely a shiny bauble to help get people’s attention.
Granted, in the way the episodes are presented, there’s not necessarily a strong sense of momentum in Patrick’s story. Thanks to Cumberbatch, it’s nevertheless worth the investment watching him stumble along.
“Patrick Melrose” premieres May 12 at 9 p.m. on Showtime.