That was the week that was for big issues with BBC1 doing Swine Flu: Everything You Need To Know and RTE running up the flagpole on Prime Time: Nama. And is this reviewer any the wiser? Any more re-assured? Pigs will fly, it seems. Apparently one expert says the swine flu isn’t a swine flu and it’s an airborne pandemic and another says it’s scare mongering. Fine Gael say that the Government Nama plan is a fairy tale to which Willie O’Dea TD says … that sort of attitude is Tommy Cooper Economics.
What are we to think? Prime Time looked at a field in Gracedieu in the city that cost a now bankrupt developer €7 million and questioned whether it would have any value even in ten years time with a glut of unsold houses. Why should Nama take this field into public protection?
Why should the public believe the people who believed the bankers and speculators before and believe you me, I haven’t an answer and I suspect the politicians don’t either. Score one!
That clever RTE1 programme, At Your Service, is back on Sundays, into a nice slot, after Fair City. The two Brennan Brothers have such enthusiasm for their projects, but they had their work cut out with the Skylon Hotel in Drumcondra. The owners, who never appeared, and left it to two willing but cautious managers to deal with the brothers. Good ideas were turned down by these faceless owners and sound financial advice was disregarded. It took weeks to re-decorate three rooms and it was the usual sure-you-know-yourself-excuses. Even signage change outside took six weeks to implement and you could see the staff were sceptical of a drumming workshop to get some element of life, buzz or change onboard.
Still, the two brothers carried on, but when the unidentified owners see the programme, you would have to think, they won’t be happy. Free publicity yes, but!
Casualty, the long running BBC1 medical drama, returned with a bang, a scary, edge of the seat fire and initially eight new junior doctors. It is a triumph of planning that they manage to vary these shows and keep the plot and pot boiling. And, this opening two-parter, was a cracker, crammed with interesting characters, and each one interwoven into a fantastic, gripping human interest story. These new, or surviving characters, established themselves in a densely plotted and developed storyline. Derek Thompson as Charlie was long-serving and excellent.
The plot of an explosion in a derelict supermarket, was exciting, and developed well over the two nights and is sure to bring in, if not increase, the rating. BBC are making a new docs and angels series, Crash, under EastEnders genius, Tony Jordan. It will look at the pressures young medics find themselves under.
The previews suggest it will be a bit like a Brit version of Gray’s Anatomy. So that can’t be bad.
Sadly, all is not well with the new improved edgier version of past-watershed The Bill. After all the hype about the later slot giving them a chance to deepen the content, while at the same time losing or killing off popular characters. So far, ITV have lost about a million viewers per episode, but they say that is down to the BBC show, New Tricks. Now Tricks has ended its run and what will be the excuse, now? Strangely The Bill has increased its family and younger viewers but lost the over 55s. It’s not easy to explain that, so expect some remedial action and a change in cast and a big bang storyline.
Watch out for a real gem of a programme going out twice a week on More 4, Saving Grace. Holly Hunter, who was once Steven Spielberg’s partner, plays Grace, a world-wise cop who has a wise male angel living in her house and he helps unravel her cases by a sort of question and answer method. Pure hokum but Hunter, as the Americans say, is a honey and she lights up the screen with her world-weary cynicism and live-in angel. The bright winged seraphim is her saving grace, as well as watching over her. There is also a great character actor as a priest friend – you know the kind – like Chris Cooper, in lots of stuff, you recognise his face but can’t identify him from the credits.
The RTE1 new series CSI Fada, about unsolved Irish murders, opened with a 1920s killing and cover-up, about a Stradbally, Co. Waterford, based postman, who disappeared on Christmas Day and became a legend, that ruined lives, as a key witness refused to corroborate evidence and the case collapsed. It made the UK papers and several papers had to pay for unsubstantiated allegations they made. What surprised me was the little actual evidence presented and at the end there was a statement that the state were going to release further documents soon. So, why didn’t the programme makers wait for that? Recently the local Stagemad Theatre Company staged a James Cheasty play, Prisoners Of Silence, loosely based on that story.