Friday 20 April 2018

Watching Uri put the spooky into spooks

Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

The Secret Life of Uri Geller

Sunday, BBC2, 9pm, Falling Skies Tuesday, Fox, 9pm

Coronation Street

Monday/Wednesday/Friday, TV3/ITV, 7.30pm

For those of a certain vintage, the name Uri Geller brings a range of emotions, running the full gamut from scorn to ridicule. Is he a strutting martinet who had an almost Zelig-like ability to attach himself to whatever gullible star was passing at the time – John Lennon and Michael Jackson are quickly offered up as 'close friends'?

Or is he actually a spy who is happy to spend hours telling anyone who will listen that he doesn't like to talk about it?

That the Galilean spoon-molester had some dealings with intelligence agencies during the 1970s is largely uncontested – hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted on projects involving psy-ops back then.

But it was hard to escape the impression that Geller and his supporters had simply seen Scanners once too often.

Of course, the whole programme could have simply been a brilliant piece of misdirection by the CIA who wants us to look at Geller and laugh while they carry on with the real business of using real psychics to influence their real enemies. My God, they're cunning, that lot.

Q Falling Skies has already shown signs that it fancies itself as a bit more erudite than the usual Man vs Alien shoot'emup.

And Noah Wyle is perfect as former professor turned new president of an obliterated America, Tom Mason, who finds himself trying to maintain peace between the remaining humans and some aliens who may, or may not, be helping them in their resistance against the other, not so nice aliens. Yes, it pays to keep up.

When the brilliantly realised reboot of Battlestar Galactica first aired a few years ago, it proved that modern sci-fi can deal with the questions facing our own society better than most real world drama and there's no doubt that Falling Skies fancies itself as a bit smarter than the average Bear nebula.

Whether it reaches BG's level of uncomfortable moral determinism remains to be seen.

But this is season 3, so they need to start showing their hand.

Q At their best, soaps can capture a mood or question of the day – Beth Jordache's lesbian snog on Brookside seems harmless now, but was a big deal back then.

But some soap writers seem desperate to show their serious social concern and the eagerness with which some soaps grab a cause can be tedious at the best of times.

And Corrie's latest serious plot line is a classic example of misjudging its audience.

Julie Hesmondhalgh's character, Hayley, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this week and as the most polite, inoffensive resident of the street, it's a damning blow.

So what's my problem with this particular storyline?

Well, it was recently announced that Hesmondhalgh's decision to leave the soap at the end of the year prompted the producers to give her cancer and kill her off.

Hayley, that is. Not Julie Hesmondhalgh.

But with soap storylines now being trailed months in advance, the viewer already knows there is no successful battle she might mount against the disease, there's no point in becoming emotionally engaged with her fight, or journey, or whatever the accepted phrase for dealing with cancer is being used these days.

Instead, you're just looking at someone slowly and painfully dying. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but give me Beth Jordache's kiss any day of the week.

Irish Independent

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