PA­TRICK FREYNE

There are rum­blings within Chat Moun­tain and the cruel twin tow­ers of re­al­ity TV might fall – here are 20 things 2015’s TV told me

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Love/Hate left a dra­matic void on Ir­ish TV, filled ini­tially by Haughey (same cast and plot; I think it’s a pre­quel) and later by solid tiger-kid­nap­ping drama Clean Break (sadly, no real tigers). Nei­ther quite did the trick. Love/Hate fans found them­selves driv­ing aim­lessly around the dock­lands mut­ter­ing into burner phones. 2 Bri­tish tele­vi­sion pro­duced a lot of great drama. Abi Mor­gan’s River and Tom Rob Smith’s Lon­don Spy were beau­ti­ful, hu­mane, un­pre­dictable and ex­pertly cast (Stel­lan Skars­gard – he’s like a big sad bear; Ben Whishaw – he’s like a sexy, soul­ful monchichi). The bril­liant Wolf Hall ex­tracted dra­matic depths from Mark Ry­lance’s su­per­hu­manly ex­pres­sive face and You, Me and

the Apoc­a­lypse en­ter­tain­ingly con­tem­plated our in­evitable doom. 3 Ai­dan Turner took his shirt off. In the BBC’s ex­cel­lent re­make of 1970s pe­riod drama

Poldark, the moody hero finds that shirts chafe his del­i­cate skin and he must thus di­vest him­self of them when the op­por­tu­nity arises. 4 HBO in­creas­ingly par­o­died it­self. Ballers (The Rock as a foot­ball agent) and The Brink (US for­eign pol­icy is bad) proved the net­work has a white­board on which is scrawled “sexy ladies” “bold words” and “hire a writer? Per­haps.” 5 Rather joy­ously, an­gry frag­gle Vin­cent Browne broad­cast from The Ge­orge to cel­e­brate the equal­ity ref­er­en­dum. It was ev­ery­thing the no-side feared. “This is the new re­al­ity,” they thought. “Ev­ery­thing will be broad­cast from the Ge­orge from now on.” Sadly, this is not the case. 6 UTV Ire­land hap­pened. Born with the New Year, its crazed cre­ators promised a whole new sta­tion, but in­stead re­placed one we were ac­cus­tomed to (UTV) with one that mainly showed re­peats of Doc

Martin (UTV Ire­land). Caught off-guard by Ir­ish peo­ple’s fa­mil­iar­ity with tele­vi­sion as a con­cept (we didn’t dive out of the way of the on­com­ing train footage as they ex­pected), they are cur­rently re­vis­ing their “any-old-shite” pol­icy with the chan­nel’s new own­ers ITV.

Alive, dam­mit! Un­break­able Kimmy Schmidt

7 Daniel and Ma­jella O’Don­nell roamed the land test­ing B&Bs (on UTV Ire­land), which was charm­ing, but also, as you know, one of the se­crets of Fa­tima.

8 Net­flix made lots of great shows. Jes­sica Jones, Mas­ter of None, The Un­break­able Kimmy Schmidt, Or­ange is

the New Black and Bet­ter Call Saul sug­gest it has found a pop-cul­tur­ally savvy, off­beat space be­tween mock-por­ten­tous ca­ble drama and net­work pro­ce­du­rals. Ama­zon Prime made lots of good shows too but de­cided not to make them avail­able here (it’s like it works for UTV Ire­land). 9 Su­per­heroes pro­lif­er­ated. The DC and Marvel comics con­tinue to in­fil­trate tele­vi­sion. DC added Flash and Su­per­girl to the uni­verse es­tab­lished in Ar­row (Sky). Agent Carter and

Agents of Shield per­se­vered, while on Net­flix we got the first of a new batch of Marvel shows:

Dare­devil (good) and Jes­sica Jones (very good). (In­ci­den­tally, comics guru Alan Moore de­cries the su­per­hero boom as a re­treat from the “over­whelm­ing com­plex­i­ties of mod­ern ex­is­tence”.) 10 The best he­roes were hero­ines. Jes­sica Jones, Sarah Man­ning from Or­phan Black, Agent Carter, Saga from

The Bridge, Kimmy Schmidt. 11 There were spoiler alerts every­where, be­cause no one watches any­thing at the same time any more. Any­way, Lit­tle Nell dies, Darth Vader is Luke’s fa­ther, Sean Bean has his head chopped off, Kevin Spacey is Kaiser Soze, the Al­lies won the sec­ond World War and your in­vest­ment property in Cape Verde did not turn out to be as prof­itable as you hoped. 12 There were many zom­bie shows. Make no mis­take, this is how tele­vi­sion ex­ec­u­tives see us: drool­ing meat-pup­pets in a herd. The

Walk­ing Dead is the most ac­claimed, but Z-Na­tion, pro­duced on a smaller bud­get, is con­sis­tently wit­tier, more in­ven­tive and ab­surd. 13 Com­edy went to in­ter­est­ing places. The UK had the gen­tle char­ac­ter drama of The De­tec­torists and the warm, spiky real­ism of

Catas­tro­phe. The US had Mas­ter of None ex­plor­ing is­sues of iden­tity, Bojack Horse­man min­ing the ex­is­ten­tial de­spair of a car­toon horse and Rick and

Morty mov­ing be­yond sci-fi pas­tiche into philo­soph­i­cally co­her­ent ni­hilism. All were very funny. 14 TV3’s very good po­lice melo­drama Red Rock proves that Ir­ish peo­ple have an ap­petite for more than one home-grown soap, or pos­si­bly just an ex­tra lo­cal Garda sta­tion. 15 There was too much chat. The Late Late Show chuntered on, as it will un­til the heat death of the uni­verse. Bren­dan O’Con­nor was re­placed by Ray D’Arcy on Satur­days, but will ap­par­ently re­turn in 2016. Gay Byrne and Miriam O’Cal­laghan also have spo­radic chat shows. The life cy­cle of the Ir­ish TV pre­sen­ter peaks with chat. When fu­ture ar­chae­ol­o­gists dig up the rem­nants of our civil­i­sa­tion they will rightly as­sume we were a chat-based so­ci­ety that choked on our own chat. 16 Pat Kenny’s In the Round ended. This show didn’t, as ex­pected, fea­ture a greased-up Kenny wrestling strangers for food (wel­come to the pri­vate sec­tor, Pat), but was yet an­other celebrity chat show (UTV Ire­land). It was quickly can­celled be­cause of the afore­men­tioned chat moun­tain. 17 Baz Ash­mawy won an Emmy. It was for the ex­cel­lent 50 Ways to Kill Your

Mammy (Sky). Once, Baz win­ning a Vic­to­ria Cross or the Or­ange Prize for woman’s fic­tion would have seemed more likely to me. This shows how much TV re­view­ers know. 18 View­ers craved kinder re­al­ity telly. The dark tow­ers of cru­elty X Fac­tor (mock the poor and des­per­ate) and I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here (mock the rich and use­less) still stand, but the pop­u­lar­ity of First

Dates, GBBO and Gog­gle­box sug­gests we want some­thing sweeter and more real. Mean­while TLC pumped out hours of footage of fa­mous peo­ple go­ing down the shops (I just spent 20 min­utes watch­ing Don­nie Wahlburg and Jenny McCarthy buy­ing a couch). 19 Youtube con­tin­ued to eat our chil­dren. This year I went to Google HQ where fresh-faced Ir­ish “youtu­bers” cel­e­brated toil­ing for free on a pyra­mid scheme of on­line make-up tu­to­ri­als and videogame walk­throughs. They see them­selves as rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies shed­ding the shack­les of old me­dia. They are ac­tu­ally share­crop­pers turn­ing the dig­i­tal sod for Sil­i­con Val­ley feu­dal­ists. Yes, I am great fun at par­ties.

20 Win­ning Streak re­turned. Gaze at Marty Whe­lan’s per­fect mous­tache and twin­kling eyes. All is well, yes?

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