Comedy is a serious business at RTE. That’s All We Have Time For is a panel quiz show in slow motion with obviously scripted ad libs and it just isn’t funny. No doubt the title – not funny – refers to not having enough time, money or wit to think of enough funny lines except Snow Jokes.
Then there’s Katherine Lynch’s Single Ladies that looks like a repeat from last year or a video left over since Christmas. More naff gags than funny and a repeating section about Ronaldo was cringe-making. Needs new material.
Now that RTE have killed off The Clinic, and there wasn’t much of an outcry or protest, for a while it looked like TV3 was going to make the series but that sort of went quiet. So Sunday viewers have the return of the restaurant series, RAW, with less sex, or craziness and it has Aisling O’Sullivan, from The Clinic, as the new owner and there is an air of interest about her, a sort of aura of expectation. But the joy of Raw is the return of Jojo, played by Charlene McKenna, who is such a presence, the camera loves her as much as the audience does. I’m not sure if there is a long-term prospect for such a series but as long as O’Sullivan and McKenna are there, this will be the best Irish programme since Bachelor’s Walk.
Can’t say that I was ever a particular fan of Anna Nolan, maybe that was because of the sensationalist headlines from her stint in Big Brother, as a lesbian nun. She didn’t work any magic either in the Afternoon Show, but her story – a nun’s story – in O Sister Where Art Thou? was sad and tender and she came across as a caring, honest, loving person who told her story about why she joined a Loreto Abbey in the nineties. It was sad that many who entered with her refused to be interviewed but of those who did, it was good television about private lives and a relationship with others, the choices we each of us make or made and how her life and our lives turned out. This was a well-made and very interesting low-key look – not looking for answers but trying to see how life and life’s choices shape people.
Out of the snow and slush comes the warm contentment of cuddle up with the tele stories, as both BBC and UTV bring back those warm biggies to gladden our hearts. For the next 10 weeks that leads into Spring BBC1 will delight on Sundays with more gentle tales from Larkrise To Candleford. It returned with news that the central Timmins family had come into an unspecified legacy and it touched the hearts of viewers with its simple comparison of contemporary problems of people dreaming beyond their means for their children’s future; in a time of recession – although that word was never used. A beautiful story, well told and well-meaning too.
On UTV, for a similar period, viewers welcomed the familiar return of Wild At Heart with its flowers and elephants in a game reserve in the heart of warmest, happiest Africa. The opening episode had a hot-air balloon, a wedding, nostalgia, a daft storyline and a party at the end to banish the cold cold winter and gladden the least sentimental among us with its blue sky hopes and dreams under African skies. Stephen Tompkinson is still the soft vet and his new love is that all-smiling, all-embracing, Dawn Steele, who radiates Colgate charm and never-say-die spirit. Sure it does the heart good to be safely wild on Sunday nights.
The new RTE2 sci-fi drama, Flash Forward, got off to a good and mysterious start last week. A mysterious event causes lots of people worldwide to black-out for 137 seconds and while unconscious most people had dreams – flash forward dreams, six months into the future. The opener had lots of tension and bits of stories and some lies to keep you guessing. One wife dreams she is with a new partner, one guy just sees himself in a toilet reading a newspaper and a lesbian FBI agent finds herself having a sonogram and pregnant. Another sees a dead child, or a presumed killed-in-action daughter (Irish actor Brian F. O’Byrne) plays this father. And there’s more . . .
Strange thing ABC in America had high hopes for the series in a Lost mode but one nomination in major awards and despite record sales worldwide, the BBC held the next 14 episodes until March. Don’t hold your breath or read the US reviews. I have and will still watch it. Question is – if you see the so-called future, can you do something to change it and save a loved one. Watch out for FRI Special Agent Al Gough, as he tries to solve or prove this.