Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

20 December 2001 Edition

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The TV year that was: 2001

By Seán Ó Donaile

"You can Never underestimate the intelligence of the general public"-

P Barnum's cynical comment of over one hundred years ago is still accurate today, as channels increase their appeal to the lowest common denominator, with ever-increasing ratings.

What began as 'fly on the wall' real-life documentaries have descended into real-life soaps, in which individuals alter their personalities to appeal to the camera.

'Life on a Ferry' or 'Cops Live' have now been replaced by contrived situations, in which contestants are content to live their lives in a glass bubble for our amusement, to satisfy their own insecurities or quest for fame. Why anyone would want to watch someone dressing in the morning or clipping their toenails is beyond me.

Gone also are the days when the word "knickers" on TV would create a national controversy or when An Taoiseach pulled the RTÉ drama 'Spike' from our screens, after a nude model had appeared on screen.

We're now immune to 'white-trailer-trash', twenty-stone men wearing their wives knickers or running off with their mothers.

Network 2's 'Podge and Rodge' conversing about "scabs on my willy" or giving "blowjobs to their neighbours" scarcely raises an eyebrow on a Monday night.

Bring back Mary Whitehouse.

The attacks on the Twin Towers were a further development of live war TV and a sad indictment of the shallow, superficial nature of Western society. Some even resorted to buying popcorn as they watched live footage of the second explosion on multiple screens in city centre workplaces.

The days when we were shocked by Famine in Ethiopia seem to have disappeared as the snuffing out of thousands of lives in New York was met with amused detachment by some and mobile phones have been jammed with 'jokes' since mid-September.

What happened after in Afghanistan was equally shocking and the callous regard for Afghan lives was portrayed by AirForce ground-staff signing their names on missiles bound for civilian casualities.

New channels have been working on overdrive as they cash in on their bonanza in the name of peace. All objectivity and the quest for genuine TV journalism are lost in the rush to 'stamp out terrorism' and TV has once more created, particularly in the USA - where they need to learn most from their past mistakes - a general consensus in society with little or no questioning.

Our national day of mourning was little more than an excuse for many to 'get full' on Thursday night and the insincere guff was a reminder of the national craze 'for peace' post-Warrington and the Papal visit.

The loyalist blockade of the Ardoyne Road was compulsive viewing for some, who watched live footage of children walking to and from school where the pathetic and dangerous behaviour of loyalists was exposed by the cameras. Indeed, the cause of unionism/loyalism was damaged more by the actions of loyalists in Drumcree and Ardoyne than by thirty years of the IRA.

Meanwhile, The Simpsons continues to be the most accurate portrayal of modern Western society, with Homer quickly replacing JFK as the national mantelpiece icon and the Sky One show replacing the Rosary as quality family time.

Barney Gumble and Ned Flanders have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Marge wants the money for a new fur coat.

Other highlights of 2001 were Daniel O Donnell's 40th Birthday bash on 'Live at Three - asleep at Five Past', the family feud on'The Waltons', which left ten dead, and Mary Harney's wedding.

While harshly criticised by many, her honesty on the loneliness of a single life was moving - "coming home to an empty to run the bath for you at night".

Fair play to you, a Mháire, but you may retire from politics.

Pat Kenny continues to strut his stuff and has recently had a chart topping single dedicated to his trousers, but he'll never fill the boots of Gay Byrne, Gerry Kelly on UTV or dismal John Daly on the Beeb.

Ireland failed successfully to win the Eurovision and the DUP brought their handbags to Stormont and Mitchel refereed between the warring hordes of the SDLP and the Paisleyites.

Nollaig Shona!

Christmas Crackers!

Christmas TV Preview

Movies to watch out for

*Toy story (RTÉ 1, Christmas Day)

One of the best kid's movies for years as Woody and Buzz do their best to defeat the baddies though you'll still be wondering why you've spent £450 on presents and your child still wants to play with a cardboard box.

*The Truman Show (BBC1, 30th Dec)

Jim Carey and the gorgeous Natasha McElhone star in this 24/7 reality soap - the boy who lives in a TV bubble. Reminds you somewhat of the 'lived for TV' lives of Lady Di and Gazza and the sad consequences.

*White Christmas (RTÉ 1, Christmas Day)

Ok, so Bing Crosby turned out to be a big meanie alcoholic and wife-beater, but it'll remind us of our childhood when all we got was a teddy with one ear and a kick in the arse.

*Good Will Hunting (BBC 2, 22nd Dec)

What with half the country falling in love with their shrinks, it's reassuring to see that Matt Dillon doesn't fall for Robin Williams, as he attempts to save him from a life of abuse. Marvellous altogether.

* A Christmas Carol (TV3, Christmas Eve)

Albert Finney rescues this classic from a poor script - no need to outline the plot and you'll probably be scoffing mince pies and cider before and after Midnight Mass.

*A Dinosaur's Story (Christmas day)

Ian Paisley stars in this autobiography directed by Stephen Spielberg. Something to get you away from the mad aunts and the obnoxious brother in law and his pink diamond jumper.

*One of our Dinosaurs is Missing (UTV, St. Stephen's day)

Follow up to the above with Sammy Wilson on the run from Stormont turning up on the set for Emmanuelle. Madcap Disney comedy with lots of evil Chinese spies with funny pigtails and big knives.

*Thelma & Louise (UTV-27th Dec)

Two bored and repressed housewives abscond from their ICA crochet classes and end up in the Grand canyon via lots of cop chases and reneck cowboys who get what's coming to them.

*Blotto (29th Dec)

Not about last night but Laurel and Hardy making their

annual appearance, causing all sorts of mayhem and up to all sorts of

carry on - sure ye couldn't keep up to them.

*Faster Pussycat! Kill!Kill! (New Year's day)

Flamboyant, exciting caper as three preposterously proportioned Yanks

embark on a a mindless orgy of drink and pillage . Sure isn't that what

Christmas is all about?!

Christmas day Specials

Westlife and friends (RTÉ)

Cian and the lads don their Christmas best to lend us some festive cheer. Daniel O' Donnell will be sporting his new poloneck and Marty Whelan will be auctioning his wig for charity.

The Queen's Christmas Message (BBC)

Something us southern bumpkins have been denied the pleasure of - the perfect excuse to walk out of yer Aunty Monica's Christmas party.

Eastenders (RTÉ)

More foreign muck - the Mitchel's are up to no good, Bepe cannot confront Angie about his love for Beckie, Simon is in a spot of bother with Ron Dickson, Curley confesses his love for Phil and Miley runs off with the turkey and the man from the Daz add.

Is this what Pádraig Pearse died for?

Auntie's dazzling Bloomers (UTV)

Terry Wogan lends us some hilarious moments as people fall into swimming pools and trip over dogs, with a guest appearance from Bob Monkhouse - sure to get you into the festive spirit.

Father Christmas' BiG Adventure (Channel 5)

The bearded fellow takes all the family to his kingdom, where they all have to fork out $25 to sit on his knee , and the kingdom turns out to be a converted mart.

Fr. Ted's Christmas Special (C4)

Fr Ted and Dougal take the wrong turn in a Department store and end up in the knicker and bra section with hilarious consequences. Mrs Doyle keeps the kettle boiling and the bishop finds rabbits in his bed.

Dream team (Sky One)

The boys Cup Final goes according to plan until evil terrorists kidnap Roy's wife and Mohammed Al Fayed buys the club at half-time, selling all the players and running off with the captain's wife

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