Tuesday 23 October 2018

Television review: A sense of nostalgia for things that are still going on

* Ireland In Crisis : Who Can Govern? (TV3)
* The Larry Sanders Show

Former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes
Former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

Remember when all those interviewers would ask Enda to name the date of the election, and he wouldn't tell them, and they'd all have a bit of a laugh?

It seems like 1956 since all that was going on, and Enda himself must look back on it with much fondness - imagine there was a time when he had so much power, he could sit there with a knowing grin, withholding such information? A time when journalists would happily set him up with his pay-off line, because they were all so giddy about the election that was to come?

Turns out that the nostalgia is kicking off all round, with TV3's Ireland in Crisis: Who Can Govern? taking us back through this election which technically does not qualify as nostalgia in the usual sense, in that it's still happening.

It is nostalgic in the sense that The Xtra Factor is nostalgic for the episode of The X Factor that ended before the ad-break. But then with any sub-culture in which addiction is considered normal - indeed many in politics will be almost boastful of their addiction to the game - time does not operate in the usual way.

No doubt it's like this in a crack house, whose denizens tend not to be clock-watchers, who are at times confused about the very nature of time itself, who might take 50 days to accomplish something which a normal person could do over the weekend, but who are happy anyway because they are in the right place, doing what they know.

They're loving this, the whole lot of them.

And looking at lreland In Crisis, you could see the attraction of it for a certain type of person - it's just so easy.

There was Alan Dukes, one of the "big beasts", as they say (they love the "big beasts"), a man who is revered by his contemporaries for the enormity of his intellect, and Dukes was talking about Enda's poor election campaign, "Once you're explaining, you're losing", he quipped.

Now that line is genuinely old, it is attributed to Ronald Reagan, or whoever gave it to him. And yet Dukes, with his brilliant political mind, was pleased to knock it out again as if he were imparting some original insight.

By sheer coincidence I happened to be reading about the magnificent The Larry Sanders Show, whose creator Garry Shandling died recently, and I was reminded of a line spoken by Larry's producer Artie, played by Rip Torn - he is talking about a certain brand of excellent Scotch, and he puts it like this: "It's Scotch whisky...Glenlivet, single malt. When you die, you'll go to heaven, say hello to God; and when God says hello to you, this is what you'll smell on his breath".

That is the sort of line you get from actual "big beasts", from people of enormous intellect, but let us give Dukes the benefit of the doubt here. He may have been rattling off a load of terrific Dukesian lines, which didn't make the cut - it is the case that political programme-makers look for the cliche with a kind of forensic intensity, dreading the thought that there may be one in the room, and they're not seeing it.

This time we even got a blast of "it's the economy stupid", which we hadn't heard for what seemed like days. Ah, they were loving it, never more alive than when the results are in, and they can "call" things that have already happened. It fell to Brian Hayes to say of the situation in which they now find themselves, that "absolutely no one saw this coming".

Oh yes, the fact that they were all wrong does not seem to bother them greatly, though in this instance Hayes is actually wrong, about the fact that they were all wrong.

Eoghan Harris wasn't wrong, yet he was conspicuous by his absence here, as he has been conspicuous by his absence from RTE's coverage, pre-election, post-election, and in this new electoral time zone which has been created due to overwhelming demand from all those who got it wrong, who are still getting it wrong, but who will continue to have a wonderful time regardless. Because this is what they do. I'd explain why Harris is never on these things, but hey, when you're explaining you're losing.

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