Dublin legal eagles: (from left) Rory Keenan as Eric, Fiona O'Shaughnessy as Meg, Amy Huberman as Tara, Neil Morrissey as Vincent and Emmet Byrne as Ray in new RTÉ drama Striking Out
Strangely though, the same level of quality control doesn’t seem to apply to the television drama nominations (other TV genres, such as comedy and factual, are parcelled into a separate ceremony).
As is the norm, the Best Drama category is dominated by productions whose eligibility arises from being wholly or partially shot here or in Northern Ireland, using Irish crew and actors: Game of Thrones, Vikings, and the BBC’s brilliant Line of Duty.
And that’s all this is about. Making up the numbers in the latest desperate attempt to pretend that RTE drama hasn’t been stuck in a rut of mediocrity since the end of season three of Love/Hate — after which that initially cracking series ran out of ideas and road.
At least Paula had some decent actors (Denise Gough, Tom Hughes, Owen McDonnell) giving decent performances. But it was nobody’s idea of one of the better dramas, let alone the best, of 2017.
The other two, however, don’t have any redeeming features. They’re turkeys. Stinkers. Duds. After the first season of the ropey, soapy legal drama Striking Out, I wrote that it wouldn’t merit a second glance in the schedule of any other major broadcaster (and RTE counts as a major broadcaster).
The first couple of episodes of season two provided no evidence that much has changed. If anything, the characters are even more absurd and the plots even more silly and implausible than they were before.
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Still, Striking Out can be relied upon for the occasional unintended laugh, usually courtesy of Fiona O’Shaughnessy, whose over-the-top performance as hacker-cum-gumshoe Meg Reilly is so epically strange and mannered, it borders on the surreal.
Acceptable Risk, a drab, flatly directed and thoroughly unconvincing Irish-Canadian conspiracy thriller, supplied neither laughs nor thrills.
Star Elaine Cassidy’s performance consisted of looking sullen while folding and unfolding her arms for six episodes.
It’s not as if this poor standard is anything new. All of RTE’s flagship dramas in recent years — Charlie, Amber, Clean Break, Rebellion —have been largely dreadful. And all of them have been nominated for IFTA awards.
It’s about time the Irish Film and Television Academy stopped kidding itself and stopped trying to kid viewers as well.
We’re the ones, after all, who ultimately have to foot the bill for RTE’s substandard dross.