RTE had a dose of the nostalgias for the guys and dames who reputedly created the celtic tiger – the advertising hot shots since the swinging zinging sixties. Ireland’s Mad Men promised, like good adverts, much more glitz than it delivered. Using the hit US show Mad Men as a template, we got lots of cigarette smoke and old Major adverts, but of the sex, wife swapping and designer dresses, we got not a gossip, nit a tittle, not a tattle, but remembering the adverts was a blast – a real trip down memory lane.
Central to it all was Waterford based artist, poet and radio star, Niall Bracken, a former MD of a famous ad agency. So it was people like Niall who created a need for things we never wanted in the first place.
I loved the way RTE used advertising spaces to deliver a clever contemporary message.
Another Miss Marple series, and another Miss Marple and this time Julia McKenzie seemed too young for the part but curiously wasn’t in story for a long while. These Agatha Christie stories have been taking liberties, like the last one had lesbian killers and the opening episode this time had a sex scene in which the audience discovered the killer but didn’t know it, so to speak. But having a well-known actor in that role was a mistake.
Once again there was a stellar cast with Ken Campbell as a drunken butler muttering the nursery rime of the title – A Pocket Full Of Rye. Wendy Richards was a scatty cook and Ralf Little was wasted as a junior detective.
Too much posh period stuff, lots of cigarette smoke, a tickling grandfather clock like another nursery rime – Hickory dickory dock.
About 5 million watched it but 6 million watched its rival on BBC1 – Waking The Dead.
Much more harrowing was the C4 showing 9/11: Phone Calls From The Tower. The recorded voices of mostly concern and reassurance to loved ones was so sad to take. Sad also was the father whose daughter called for help but he was miles away. Later he planted a tree in her memory. The calls of reassurance were saddest, like the son who reassured his mother – I’ll be alright and I’ll call you. He never did again.
Like the comfort of a poem, the families found the recorded voices comforting. This was the horror for me.
Still are thy pleasant voices,
Thy nightmares, awake.
For death he taketh all away,
But them he cannot take.
Small comfort indeed.
Caroline Quentin is back as the working mum Detective Inspector, Janine Lewis and her easy shambolic way of getting to the heart of the crime. She is surrounded by a great team and some new additions and again the hinted at role of the Ian Kelsey as her kids father-figure. Quentin has a great following and this series five is another winner.
RTE must have twisted Eugene O’Brien’s arm a lot to get him to revisit after four years the feckless midlands drama of spoiled by their mammys males (namely big child Scobie, well played by Garrett Lombard) in Pure Mule, The Last Weekend.
It was as slow as a bad play, going nowhere fast and lots of summer dreams are just about dreams of going places. But Charlene McKenna, as the equally Bruised and feckless Jen, who came back to bury her mother, saved the two-parter by her very presence. The camera loved her and the slower the images of her, the better the story got. One thing about television, it can do slow better than theatre and still be interesting.
Not sure why BBC1 put out the feel-good drama over five afternoons at five about the girls/women who joined the Women’s Land Army to do their bit for the war. Land Girls was great Sunday slot material and it was happy and sad, like Heartbeat. Mostly rosy-cheeked girls who used vinegar to soothe sunburn. Filled with happy summer clichés, with a weak local lord and his frosty sneering red lipped wife. And to add disbelief to cliché, there was Mark Benton from the Halifax advert acting like the local yokel selling dodgy carrot whiskey. Same night he was a hammy criminal in The Fixer. Bad timing all round.