Saturday 23 September 2017

Ian O'Doherty on Christmas TV viewing

The Doctor
The Doctor

DESTINED to be forever remembered as Father Ted, there are still those of us old enough to remember a time when Morgan was a scabrous, furious voice hurling invective at the great and the good from the sidelines he'd been banished to.

A prickly character who managed to alienate many of those around him during a long and frequently frustrating career that saw him hamstrung by not playing the game, he still managed, with the likes of Fr Trendy and, of course, Scrap Saturday, to combine mimicry with a coruscating contempt for authority.

Hopefully this tribute will be more than a saccharine celebration hosted on a channel that did more than most to clip his satirical wings.

Hopefully, as well, it will explore some old myths -- such as the one that RTE turned down Father Ted.

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE

(CHANNEL 4, CHRISTMAS EVE, 1.10pm; RTE ONE, CHRISTMAS DAY, 7.10am)

Forget about moaning about Christmas repeats for a moment, it should be illegal for TV stations not to show this every year. If you haven't seen it and dismiss it as just another shameless piece of fluffy feel-goodery, you really owe it to yourself to catch Frank Capra's 1946 masterpiece. If you have seen it, then you'll know that it's both a savage indictment of the banks (hey, it's still topical, nearly 70 years later) and the redemption of a man planning to kill himself on Christmas Eve which, you have to admit, rather belies the twee image of the movie in some people's minds.

Probably the biggest compliment that can be paid to It's A Wonderful Life is that even the biggest Grinch will find themselves watching with a big, goofy grin on their face while a tear rolls down their cheek.

In fact, if the line "We love you George Bailey" doesn't get you every time, then you may very well be dead inside and simply don't realise it yet.

CHARLIE BROOKER'S 2013 WIPE

(BBC TWO, DECEMBER 28, 10.40pm)

Brooker's transformation from couch-based curmudgeon flinging his own inimitable brand of corrosive filth at the quirks of popular culture into a bona fide celebutard has occasionally been less than smooth. His relationship with former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq saw him become a most unlikely paparazzi target. But Brooker has long been the most whip smart and irreverent cultural critic we have.

His previous Screenwipes have always been viciously entertaining and they've long overtaken Have I Got For News For You as the preferred destination for those who like their comment to come with a side of snark.

TOTES AMAZEBALLS

(RTE TWO, DECEMBER 27, 10pm)

Coming shortly after the earlier tribute to Morgan, it is interesting to see how far Morgan's legacy has reached. Or, as the title of this wrap-up of the year would suggest, hasn't reached. Hosted by Eoghan McDermott, this promises to be a 'wild ride' (dear Lord) through the trending events of the year, it has lined up such reliable (as it was reliable they would be booked for the show, that is) talking heads as Mario Rosenstock and Jennifer Maguire.

Expect angry words, vicious personal slurs and sweary language -- from the viewers watching, that is.

DOCTOR WHO: THE TIME OF THE DOCTOR (BBC ONE, CHRISTMAS DAY, 7.30pm)

What used to be a welcome treat has developed into full-blown omnicoverage in recent weeks as the BBC milked its most lucrative cash cow to the point of cruelty. But today is the day when Peter Capaldi finally gets his grubby paws on his very own sonic screwdriver.

Early reports have suggested that Capaldi will be a more traditional departure from Matt Smith's Doctor, who was just that little bit too hipsterish for some. But regardless of the oversaturation of Doctor Who in recent times, this is the perfect Christmas evening viewing. As they say on the show: "Resistance is futile."

That is from Doctor Who, isn't it?

SARAH SILVERMAN: WE ARE MIRACLES (SKY ATLANTIC, DECEMBER 30, 9pm)

She may not be quite the fearless slayer of sacred cows she appeared (she admitted in her autobiography, The Bedwetter that she would only ever offend Christians and Jews 'because I don't want to be blown up by Muslims') but nobody does jaw-droppingly crude comedy with as cute a smile as the positively angelic looking Silverman.

Her apparently innocent naivety is, of course, a smiling Trojan horse stuffed to the gills with pitch dark humour. In fact,the next time some idiot says that chicks can't do truly edgy comedy, direct them towards We Are Miracles, which sees her riff on some of her favourite topics -- religion, sex and the kind of embarrassing revelations that will make you spend the entire show thinking 'did she just say that?'

The answer? Yes. Yes, she did.

Irish Independent

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