It seems like ONLY yesterday that the television channels were bombarding us with adverts teasing all the wonderful, sparkling goodies they’d be stuffing into our stockings for Christmas.
In quite a few cases, and much like some childhood Christmas presents I can recall, what was promised in the ads turned out to be considerably more exciting than what was inside the box. But never mind.
No sooner have we scoffed the few remaining still-in-date mince pies than the cycle of the television seasons has begun again.
Spring may not be in the air just yet, but spring is most definitely on the air as the various broadcasters unpack what we can expect in the first quarter of 2022.
First out of the traps is Virgin Media, which launched its spring line-up yesterday. Topping the bill are drama, crime and dramas about crime – although the first of the two big series leading the charge, Holding, looks like it’s going to be spiked with plenty of dark comedy.
You’d expect nothing less, since it’s a four-part adaptation of Graham Norton’s debut novel of the same name, which was a bestseller in 2016.
Set in a west Cork town, it stars the always excellent Conleth Hill as local Garda sergeant PJ Collins, a gentle mountain of a man who hides from the residents, consoles himself with comfort food and does very little in the way of police work.
Not that there’s much work outside the trivial to be done – until the discovery of human bones during redevelopment work presents him with a cold case to be solved.
Directed by the inimitable Kathy Burke, it looks great fun from the clips I’ve seen and comes with a top-notch cast, including Brenda Fricker, Siobhán McSweeney, Pauline McLynn and Charlene McKenna.
Siobhán McSweeney also figures, in a rather more serious role, in the rather more serious Redemption. Paula Malcomson plays Collette Cunningham, a Liverpool-based detective who returns to Dublin to learn the truth about the death of her estranged daughter.
Real crime rather than the fictional sort is on the agenda in season two of the outstanding The Guards: Inside the K, which once again follows the day-to-day challenges facing the gardaí charged with policing their sprawling west Dublin beat.
It’s a superb series, unflinching in the reality it depicts, yet empathic to all sides. It shows us the human face of the gardaí without ever dehumanising anyone else or resorting to crude stereotyping.
Another crime-focused documentary series, The Criminal Assets Bureau, takes a look at CAB’s first 25 years. It comes with the promise of unprecedented access to the investigators responsible for seizing the assets of some of the country’s most notorious criminals.
Likely to be a harrowing watch, but perhaps a necessary one, four-part series Crash Scene Investigates tells the stories of Irish car crashes, how they happened and their long-term impact, with contributions from bereaved families, first-responders, garda and forensic investigators.
Meanwhile at the frontline of fluff, Lucy Kennedy takes a break from hanging out with minor celebrities to hang out with people who live unusual lifestyles in the four-part Lucy’s Tribes.
Dating shows are all the rage right now, so Generation Dating should have no trouble finding an audience. The format sees twenty-something singletons matched up with the over-65s to help one another find love and share their experiences of a changing Ireland.
Online players are no longer just a way of catching up with programmes you missed. Broadcasters increasingly use them as a complementary service, offering programming that can’t be squeezed into the conventional channels.
So, if you’re feeling nostalgic for the ’90s, red swimsuits, hairy chests and lots of shots of jiggling surgically enhanced bodies, you’ll be delighted to know the Virgin Media Player will be carrying all three seasons of the original Baywatch from this month. Spring doesn’t get any springier than Pamela Anderson in slow motion.