Sunday 18 November 2018

Bridget & Eamon, RTE2 review: The critics will say it's childish - but I laughed the whole way through

Bernard O'Shea and Jennifer Zamparelli in Bridget & Eamon, RTÉ2
Bernard O'Shea and Jennifer Zamparelli in Bridget & Eamon, RTÉ2
Bernard O'Shea and Jennifer Zamparelli in Bridget & Eamon, RTÉ2 Photograph by Paul Doherty
Bernard O'Shea and Jennifer Zamparelli in Bridget & Eamon, RTÉ2
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

I think I can predict, reasonably accurately, how last night’s first episode of Bridget & Eamon (RTE2) will be generally reviewed.

It’s silly, the critics will say. Childish. Not funny. Another waste of licence fee money, and yet further proof that RTE “can’t do comedy”.

They should never have had the arrogance to make a full-length, six-episode show out of a three-minute insert on Republic of Telly. Which is also not funny.

Who does Jennifer Zamparelli – formerly known as Maguire – think she is, acting? Who do RTE think they are, foisting this rubbish on us? How is Bernard O’Shea still being given work?

Bernard O'Shea and Jennifer Zamparelli in Bridget & Eamon, RTÉ2
Bernard O'Shea and Jennifer Zamparelli in Bridget & Eamon, RTÉ2

Reference will be made to British and American comedy, and how they’re far superior (reference will probably not be made to the fact that they have a billion times the budget). Unkind comparisons will be drawn to all-classics of the genre, like Fawlty Towers, as if that wasn’t a totally facile and pointless thing to do.

It will be argued that “great” comedy says something about the world, whereas this is basically just a series of daft jokes. You’ll be almost literally able to hear the sigh of disappointed condescension. The review may well finish with a mention of Father Ted, and how this drivel pales next to it.

That, I’m fairly sure, will be the “critical consensus”. And that, I’m also sure, will be wrong.

Because Bridget & Eamo – while it assuredly was silly, and childish, and didn’t say diddly-squat about diddly-squat – was also very funny. Honestly, I laughed the whole way through. It was funny, and it was fun. And isn’t that supposed to be what comedy is all about?

I guess it depends on your attitude to the form. Some people want comedy that makes them think as well as laugh, that moves them, or is dark and satirical and profound.

Personally, I don’t give a rat’s ass about any of that. If something does all this while also being funny, that’s fine; but when I want to be moved or inspired or made to think, I’m happy to read a novel or watch a serious drama.

From a comedy, all I ask is that it be amusing – and Bridget & Eamon was very amusing.

Also very inconsequential, for sure, with a plotline hardly worthy of the name. Bridget accidentally gets a box of (then-illegal) condoms delivered, and becomes a dealer. They make loads of money. It ends up going to the local priest, via overstuffed Trocaire boxes. She gets pregnant again. The end.

But for me, the “comedy” part is much more important than the “situation” part, and actually I’m quite sick of shows which have great set-ups and are, theoretically at least, hilarious…then neglect to write any actual jokes, almost as if that’s beneath them and their “art”.

This was packed with genuinely great one-liners and sight gags. The references to 1980s Ireland were spot on, and guaranteed to make you smile if you remember those plastic-fantastic (nah, not really fantastic) times. And the playing was spot on by O’Shea and Zamparelli; although the Midlands accent wobbled the odd time, I was pleasantly surprised by how good her acting was.

As with shows like Beavis & Butthead, Bottom, or indeed Republic of Telly, this was astronomically stupid television – and I mean that as the highest compliment. It had no pretentions to art, it didn’t look down on its audience or aim to please the critical Brahmins rather than the entertainment-seeking masses.

As I say, if you want art or profundity, do something worthwhile like reading Proust. If you want a good belly-laugh for half an hour, Bridget & Eamon are your only man (and woman).

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