Joan was pos­i­tively jolly, de­spite the fact that the 86-year-old from Co Gal­way was sum­moned to court for speed­ing

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE -

Watch­ing the pilot episode of Chance (Uni­ver­sal), di­rected by Lenny Abra­ham­son, I kept be­ing re­minded of Al­fred Hitch­cock’s great 1958 movie Ver­tigo. This was no doubt in­ten­tional. There was the same San Fran­cisco set­ting, the same femme fa­tale whose predica­ment lured the main char­ac­ter over to the dark side. And there was the same nag­ging sense that things were not as they seemed.

There, though, the sim­i­lar­i­ties ended. Hugh Lau­rie, play­ing neu­ropsy­chi­a­trist El­don Chance, is no James Ste­wart and Gretchen Mol, de­spite the blonde hair and air of mys­tery, will never be Kim No­vak, while Dubliner Abra­ham­son (Adam and Paul, Garage, Room) didn’t man­age to con­jure up the haunt­ing im­ages and sickly ro­man­ti­cism that dis­tin­guished Hitch­cock’s trou­bling mas­ter­piece.

Still, it was an in­trigu­ing opener that af­forded Lau­rie more range than he was al­lowed as the grumpy medic of the long-run­ning House. Here he was al­most as vul­ner­a­ble as his client Ja­clyn, with her tale of do­mes­tic abuse and con­fes­sion of per­son­al­ity dis­or­ders, in­clud­ing hav­ing an al­ter ego who “does things that I don’t”.

Un­set­tled by a costly mar­i­tal sep­a­ra­tion, he was easy prey, both emo­tion­ally and fi­nan­cially, fall­ing in with a dodgy an­tiques dealer’s hulk­ing as­sis­tant whose flair for right­eous vi­o­lence be­gan to ex­cite him.

How the se­ries will de­velop is any­one’s guess, but cer­tainly there was enough in this week’s pilot to war­rant fur­ther view­ing.

But if El­don Chance is head­ing for the dark side, Jimmy McGill has long been slid­ing that way, though still ca­pa­ble of acts of kind­ness, as he demon­strated in this week’s fi­nale to the third sea­son of Bet­ter Call Saul (Net­flix).

To be hon­est, I had as­sumed this would be the end of Jimmy’s story and that we would next see him rein­vented as Saul Good­man in re­runs of Break­ing Bad. But clearly his own pre­quel life isn’t over yet.

A ma­jor char­ac­ter may have died in this week’s sea­son-closer, but there are still loose ends to be re­solved, not least his re­la­tion­ship with the marvellous Kim, so a fourth sea­son seems in­evitable.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that there’s talk of Red­wa­ter (RTÉ1/BBC2) be­ing re­vived for a se­cond sea­son — a ru­mour given cre­dence by this week’s fi­nale, which ended on a bla­tant cliffhanger, though if you care a hoot about what hap­pens to any of th­ese clichéd char­ac­ters you’re a more tol­er­ant per­son than I am.

Still, RTÉ man­ages the odd in­ter­est­ing pro­gramme, if seem­ingly more by chance than de­sign, and this week’s Too Old For the Road? (RTÉ1) proved much bet­ter than I thought it was go­ing to be — a finger-wag­ging in­quiry into whether el­derly driv­ers are a hazard both to them­selves and to oth­ers.

In­deed there was no ser­mon­is­ing as pro­ducer-di­rec­tor Shane Ho­gan in­tro­duced us to five el­derly peo­ple from dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try and told us their sto­ries, some of which were en­liven­ing and some dread­fully sad, es­pe­cially that of 83-year-old Michael from Kilkenny, who hates driv­ing but does so for con­stant vis­its to wife Mar­garet, who has suf­fered strokes and is be­ing cared for in Thomas­town.

Michael’s view of old age was grim, though that of 86-year-old Joan from Co Gal­way was pos­i­tively jolly, de­spite the fact that she was sum­moned to court for speed­ing. “She’s un­be­liev­able”, said daugh­ter Berene­ice, “she’s like an Eveready bat­tery”.

Up­beat, too, was 88-year-old Anne from Kil­dare, even though in the past year she’d taken “a rapid leap into old age”, while 101-year-old John from Tip­per­ary loved the elec­tric car that en­abled him to visit his daugh­ter in Naas. In­deed, if he was com­pelled to stop driv­ing he hoped he’d “die fairly quickly”.

This ab­sorb­ing film was marred only by its mu­si­cal sound­track, which used jaunty show­tunes from an era even older than its par­tic­i­pants. The ef­fect was both in­ac­cu­rate and rather pa­tro­n­is­ing, but it didn’t re­ally take from a pro­gramme that was clearly made both with af­fec­tion and with a gen­uine in­ter­est in its par­tic­i­pants.

Given Theresa May’s calami­tous cou­ple of weeks, it was in­trigu­ing to re-watch her wip­ing the floor with her po­lit­i­cal ri­vals a mere year ago. This was the story re­called in Theresa v Boris: The Bat­tle to be PM (BBC2), a docu-drama in which the drama­tised bits were of­ten very funny in a The Thick of It kind of way.

The ac­tors por­tray­ing vam­piric May, buf­foon­ish Boris and ghastly Gove didn’t look like the peo­ple they were play­ing, but they were amus­ing none­the­less, while some of the ac­tual ad­vis­ers had pithy things to say. I es­pe­cially liked the guy from Team Boris who dryly re­marked of Gove’s late be­trayal of John­son: “It takes a very spe­cial sort of per­son to knife one of your best friends of over 20 years in the back.”

We heard, too, of May’s “com­pe­tence” and “safe pair of hands”, with ad­viser Gavin Wil­liamson as­sur­ing ev­ery­one that “the one thing I can prom­ise you is that Theresa will not be hold­ing an early gen­eral elec­tion”. She should have lis­tened to him.

The open­ing episode of Brazil­ian se­rial-killer drama Mer­ci­less (Chan­nel 4) was very rem­i­nis­cent of BBC1’s The Fall. As in that over­rated, in­deed in­creas­ingly lu­di­crous, se­ries, the killer is a hand­some young guy and we know his iden­tity from the out­set. Add into the mix some sleazy politi­cians and an im­pe­ri­ous fe­male cop and you have a thriller that’s quite ab­sorb­ing in a trashy sort of way.

But if you want a laugh, try Mas­ter of None (Net­flix) in which co-cre­ator, scriptwriter and main ac­tor Aziz An­sari tries to ne­go­ti­ate fam­ily, re­la­tion­ships and other as­pects of New York life. It’s sharp and funny and quite rude, though never un­kind.

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