Thursday 27 October 2016

Ian O'Doherty: One million people can't be wrong, but they can be cheated

Published 12/11/2013 | 21:30

Tom Vaughan Lawlor, in another display of histrionics as Love/Hate’s Nidge
Tom Vaughan Lawlor, in another display of histrionics as Love/Hate’s Nidge

What? That's it? But . . . we wanted more, so much more.

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That has been the reaction from the million or so people who tuned into Sunday night's hugely hyped Love/Hate finale, and the post-broadcast reaction was one of angry confusion, with more hate than love as furious punters cried foul over the lack of any real conclusions.

Well, unless you were dopey dentist Andrew or dead-eyed juvenile sociopath Wayne, that is. Both of them were well and truly concluded in pretty definitive ways.

In fact, the murder of Wayne, who found a suitably squalid end, will have seen the nation’s cat lovers going to bed happy that the kitty-killer got his just desserts.

But the consternation of the viewers, who had expected more crash and bang to their wallop, was understandable if misplaced.

After all, this is a show that has placed great store in killing off the more favoured characters, and the demise of the dashing Darren at the conclusion of last season was enough to throw the teenage female population of Ireland into a mass convulsion of hormonal rage and tear-soaked scrunchies.

It is easy to manipulate the heartstrings of a committed audience and the writer didn't do that. He decided to absolutely infuriate them instead.

In truth, the main problem with Sunday's episode was that it bore all the hallmarks of a classic penultimate episode rather than a finale – everything moved forward at a fair old clip, setting things up.

But anyone looking for a satisfying conclusion would have been left scratching their heads in bafflement at the lack of a digestible dénouement. And, crucially, it also bore all the marks of a show that picked up some potential story lines, sniffed them for a bit and then discarded them with no explanation, leaving the viewer wondering if they had missed something.

Even though I've never bought into the Love/Hate love-fest with the evangelical zeal of some of the show's more recent converts, there have been moments of undeniably assured television.

In fact, the most memorable scene of the season came not with any of the marquee moments, but in the quiet exchange between the increasingly unhinged Fran and the badly brain-damaged Tommy, who didn't realise he was about to be killed.

Brilliantly played by Killian Scott, Tommy's inability to understand his predicament (keeping his last, condemned man's cigarette "for later") had subtle echoes of the real life case of mentally damaged death row inmate, Ricky Ray Rector, who, like Tommy, asked to keep the pudding from his last meal "for later". It's moments like that which make Love/Hate a genuinely compelling piece of writing, and that small exchange was far more interesting than the increasingly absurd histrionics of Nidge and Fran.

In fact, the episode finished to the raucous Sex Pistols classic 'Anarchy In The UK'.

But there's another Johnny Rotten line that will seem far more apposite for many viewers: "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

Irish Independent

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