Entertainment TV & Radio

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Syriana

Paul Whitington

Published 30/08/2008 | 00:00

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Thursday, RTE2, 9.30pm

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George Clooney can do the suave, laconic Cary Grant-type role standing on his head, but he's also an accomplished serious actor who's well capable of tackling complex parts. He proved it last year in the excellent Michael Clayton, and in 2005 in his own evocative period piece, Good Night, and Good Luck. But in this complex geopolitical thriller by Stephan Gaghan (which Clooney produced), George dispensed with all vanity, gaining a couple of stone for his role and sporting an unsightly beard.

He did that to briefly dismantle the Clooney effect, because there's nothing particularly suave or heroic about the character he plays here. He is CIA agent Bob Barnes, a morally ambivalent CIA agent who grows a conscience when he learns of an American-backed plan to assassinate a progressive middle-eastern ruler who wants to diversify his country's interests before the oil runs out. But in this sweeping and ambitious film, this is only one of a series of interconnecting stories that aim to demonstrate the malicious geopolitical effects of the race for the world's remaining oil.

Cast Away (2000): Tom Hanks delivers one of his finest performances as a man who gets stranded on a desert island after a plane crash and struggles to retain his sanity. With Helen Hunt (Tonight, RTE1, 9.35pm).

Cold Mountain (2003): Sweeping, Oscar-winning Civil War epic from the late Anthony Minghella starring Jude Law as a wounded solider who journeys across America to be reunited with his sweetheart. With Nicole Kidman (Sunday, RTE1, 10.35pm).

The Negotiator (1998): Silly but entertaining thriller starring Samuel L Jackson as a police negotiator accused of corruption who takes hostages in a government building to prove his innocence (Wednesday, RTE1, 9.35pm).

Married to the Mob (1988): Gentle 80s comedy about an undercover FBI agent (Matthew Modine) who falls in love with the widow of a prominent mobster. With Michelle Pfeiffer (Thursday, Channel 6, 10.30pm).

Frantic (1988): Harrison Ford stars in this gritty and atmospheric Hitchcockian thriller from Roman Polanski as an doctor whose wife disappears on a trip to Paris (Friday, RTE1, midnight).

Just Friends (2005): Ryan Reynolds stars in this clever little romantic comedy about a man who comes faces to face with the high school sweetheart whose rejection of him (according to him) turned him into a womaniser (Friday, BBC1, 12.10am).

Seinfeld Monday to Friday, Channel 6, 7.30pm

Believe it or not, it's now 10 years since the last episode of Seinfeld was aired, but it remains -- along with Frasier -- in a class of its own sitcom-wise. In fact, it completely subverted the conventions of the genre and maintained an unparalleled level of excellence during its eight-year, nine-season run. Created and co-written by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the show starred Seinfeld as a version of himself -- the fussy and fastidious New York Jewish stand-up.

He and his friends Cosmo, George and Elaine share a common trait -- they are entirely self-obsessed, and none of them ever seems to listen to each other.

Mock the Week: Contestants including Fred MacAulay, Greg Proops and Frankie Boyle join host Dara O'Briain for the comic quiz (Tonight, BBC2, 9.40pm).

The Office: An American Workplace: In the first of a new series of the US version of the show, Michael organises an office fun run. Steve Carell stars (Tuesday, Channel 6, 8.05pm).

Mutual Friends: Patrick reintroduces Martin to the joys of the singles lifestyle. (Tuesday, BBC1, 9pm).

My Name is Earl: Earl and Randy set out to sneak Catalina back to the US after her deportation to Mexico (Thursday, Channel 6, 8.30pm).

Anonymous: Re-run of the recent series in which Jason Byrne persuades celebrities to don elaborate prosthetic disguises and attempt to fool the public (Thursday, RTE2, 9pm).

Friday Night with Jonathan Ross: Mr Ross returns after the summer break with a new run of his crude, rude and often very funny chat show (Friday, BBC1, 10.35pm).

Whistleblowers

Sunday, RTE1, 9.35pm

This brand new, two-part drama, which concludes on Monday night, is based on the real-life scandal at the Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda in the late 1970s involving a gynaecologist called Neary. And it tells the story of how one brave midwife had the courage to blow the whistle on a singularly high-handed consultant whose actions led to untold suffering.

Charlene McKenna stars as Karen, a young mother who is devastated when Dr Neary (Stanley Townsend) performs a full hysterectomy on her after the birth of her child. When new midwife Louise (Emma Stansfield) investigates, she is disturbed by the high number of hysterectomies that have taken place in the hospital.

Fiona's Story: Dark, one-off drama starring Gina McKee as a woman who struggles to hold her family together after her husband is accused of downloading child pornography from the internet (Sunday, BBC1, 9pm).

The Tudors: Sir Thomas More makes a bad career move when he refuses to recognise Henry as the head of the English Church (Sunday, TV3, 11.05pm).

Prison Break: In the first episode of the fourth season, Michael uncovers some staggering news when he goes to Los Angeles to avenge Sara's death (Tuesday, RTE2, 9pm).

Lost in Austen: Fanciful new drama in which a modern young woman discovers Elisabeth Bennett in her bathroom and changes places with the Pride and Prejudice heroine (Wednesday, UTV, 9pm).

Dirt: A forgotten child star takes the entire staff of Dirt Now! hostage and forces them to devote an entire issue to him (Wednesday, Channel 6, 9.25pm).

The Wire: Barksdale is distracted from his problems with the police by a run in with a rival dealer (Thursday, Channel 6, 9.25pm).

Looking for a Miracle Tuesday, RTE1, 10.40pm

It's easy to sneer at the trashy side of Lourdes. The town is one of France's big tourist draws and the shops filled with religious tat can be disconcerting. But for a lot of people it's a holy place, where the desperately sick and terminally ill can find solace, comfort and maybe even a miracle. This Would You Believe special marks the 150th anniversary of the Lourdes apparitions by following the journeys of two Irish women to the shrine.

Both Triona Phelan and Mary Claffey are suffering from the same form of cancer -- Triona is in remission but Mary is in the advanced stage. They come from different backgrounds and travel separately to Lourdes with different levels of faith and expectation. Triona has two young children and has come to Lourdes with them and her husband. Mary has come on an organised pilgrimage, and is visiting Lourdes for the fourth time. She cherished her time at the Grotto, but since the film was made has sadly died.

Living the Dream: Two sailors from Howth travel to Croatia to run a company specialising in yachting holidays (Sunday, RTE1, 8.30pm).

The Conspiracy Files: The truth behind the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie 20 years ago (Sunday, BBC2, 9pm).

About Beauty: Document-ary by Conor Horgan about artist Dorothy Cross (Monday, RTE1, 10.35pm).

Disasters: The freak storm that devastated Ireland in 1927 (Tuesday, RTE1, 8.30pm).

Future Shock: The Last Drop: Philip Boucher-Hayes on how Ireland may be running out of usable water (Tuesday, RTE1, 9.35pm).

Who Do You Think You Are?: Esther Rantzen's discovers the scandalous adventures of her great-grandfather (Wednesday, BBC1, 9pm).

Tyrone v Wexford Sunday, RTE2, 1.30pm

Here's a semi-final pairing nobody would have predicted at the start of the summer. Neither of these counties were expected to figure at the business end of the Championship, yet it's Tyrone or Wexford who'll face Cork or Kerry in next month's final. Conventional wisdom had it that Mickey Harte's Tryone were a shadow of the team that won in 2005 and no match for stronger sides such as Kerry, Cork or Dublin. So much for conventional wisdom: Dublin were very poor a fortnight ago in Croke Park, but in trouncing them Tyrone were back to their best, playing lovely football and putting down a marker for all-comers.

Wexford, meanwhile, have entered heady and unfamiliar territory. Hurling is supposed to be the county game, but this year the footballers have eclipsed the achievements of the other code. Logic tells us Tyrone will be too strong for them today, but in a season full of upsets, you never know.

Racing: Races from Sandown Park and Chester (Today, C4, 2pm).

Soccer: Angus Scott presents live coverage of Arsenal v Newcastle, with the Gunners looking to recover from last week's defeat (Today, Setanta Sports 1, 5.15pm).

Soccer: A round-up of all today's Premier League games, including Everton v Portsmouth (Tonight, RTE2, 7.30pm).

Soccer: Celtic take on Rangers at Park Head. Kick-off at 12.30pm (Sunday, Setanta Ireland, 11.30pm).

GAA: Pat Spillane and guests discuss the All-Ireland Football semi-finals between Wexford and Tyrone, and Kerry and Cork (Sunday, RTE2, 9.30pm).

Rugby: After last season's heroics, it's back to business for Munster, as they play Edinburgh away in the Magners League (Friday, Setanta Sports 1, 7pm).

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