Be­hold Katie Holmes in an en­chanted Jackie Kennedy wig that gives the bearer no­tions

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS -

This Fri­day, Matthew Perry, with the help of a fake nose and two fake ears, ap­pears in the grip­ping biopic Mr Potato Head:

Dream’s End. The tale of Mr Potato Head is in­deed a sad one – fo­cus­ing on how he fails to please his over­pow­er­ing mother, Ma Potato Head, and grap­ples with his al­co­holic and bit­ter wife, Mrs Potato Head.

I would like to see, and ide­ally write, that mini-se­ries. In­stead the pros­the­sis-en­hanced ex-Friend is ac­tu­ally play­ing Teddy Kennedy in The Kennedys:

Af­ter Camelot (Fri­day, RTÉ1), which is about a fam­ily of potato heads of an en­tirely dif­fer­ent sort. It’s a se­quel to The Kennedys and it fol­lows the tra­vails of that over­ex­posed clan of shys­ters in the wake of – spoiler alert – the as­sas­si­na­tion of John and Bobby. You know, the in­ter­est­ing ones.

John does not ap­pear. Bobby (Barry Pep­per) ap­pears briefly at the start, look­ing 20 years younger than his younger brother, to re­in­force that, in this uni­verse, Teddy is Chan­dler Bing with a fake nose.

Ted is not the only fo­cus. Katie Holmes also ap­pears as Jackie Kennedy or, pos­si­bly, the owner of an en­chanted Jackie Kennedy wig that gives the bearer no­tions. Given that the main dra­matic in­ci­dent in this se­ries is the hor­rific Chap­paquid­dick in­ci­dent, in which a drunk Ted Kennedy drove Mary Jo Kopechne into a river and then failed to alert the po­lice, Jackie should re­ally be su­per­flu­ous to the plot. In­stead, she’s put cen­tre-stage and treated much like Joey was treated on Daw­son’s Creek, as a bland fig­ure in­ex­pli­ca­bly beloved by all and sought for her ir­rel­e­vant coun­sel and big sad eyes (the ac­tress’s own).

She is also in a Daw­sonesque three­some with her dead hus­band and her new suitor, a Grou­cho Marx im­per­son­ator by the name of Aris­to­tle Onas­sis. He clearly sees him­self as be­ing in some sort of pros­the­sis arms-race with Perry and is be­decked with a fake nose, fake teeth and fake hair. Their love af­fair is taken se­ri­ously in the plot. There’s even a sort of love scene in which Aris­to­tle ten­derly re­moves Jackie’s stock­ings and his own glasses, but stops short of re­mov­ing his nose and teeth and wig, even though that’s clearly why we’re here. The three peo­ple who write erotic fan fic­tion about Jackie and Aris­to­tle Onas­sis will love this scene though.

Onas­sis is the type of bil­lion­aire who, when de­lighted by chil­dren frol­ick­ing on a Greek beach, enun­ci­ates the words “Ha ha ha!” in a generic “for­eign” ac­cent (to be fair, this is also how I laugh). He has ac­quired Jackie as though she were a col­lectible (she doesn’t mind) and asks, when Jackie wishes to in­tro­duce him to the Kennedy clan, if it is “to kiss rings or asses” (Nei­ther op­tion is ideal, to be hon­est, lest parts of Aris­to­tle’s face come off in a crevice). Jackie finds this out­burst hi­lar­i­ous al­to­gether.

Ide­alised fu­ture

All in all, this is the type of show in which char­ac­ters bliss­fully re­count an ide­alised fu­ture be­fore a pre­dictable tragedy and where peo­ple stop just short of say­ing things like “how ironic!” For ex­am­ple: “It will be won­der­ful when we’re back in the White House,” says Jackie to Ethel Kennedy early in the episode. “Oh oh!” say the au­di­ence. Mo­ments later Bobby Kennedy is shot. Dra­mat­i­cally it’s all – much like the ar­ti­fi­cial beak at­tached to Matthew Perry – very on the nose.

There is talk of a Kennedy curse. We see Joe Kennedy, in­ca­pac­i­tated in a bath chair, com­mu­ni­cat­ing with a tiny black­board (like your­self with a hang­over). Rose Kennedy tor­tures her vow­els like Gloria Swan­son in Sun­set Boule­vard and roams the cor­ri­dors of Camelot, where the ex­tended fam­ily live and love like a filthy-rich ver­sion of the Wal­tons. Teddy just looks sad all the time, but I sus­pect this wasn’t in the script. There’s a mo­ment when he sits up in bed and screams, which was prob­a­bly filmed sur­rep­ti­tiously in Matthew Perry’s trailer af­ter a long day on set.

And yes, the real drama, which should be the en­tire fo­cus of the minis­eries come from the hor­ri­ble events at Chap­paquid­dick and the cyn­i­cal Kennedy PR cam­paign and coverup that en­sued. It’s prob­lem­atic, be­cause no one out­side Ted Kennedy knows ex­actly how that poor girl died. And it also sug­gests that the Kennedys were never more than a bunch of up­wardly mo­bile op­por­tunists all along and to re­mind us that there have al­ways been sec­ond acts in rich Amer­i­can lives.

Any­way, JFK once sat on Ir­ish man­tel­pieces along­side Mother Theresa and Padre Pio. These por­traits have in re­cent times been re­placed by Der­mot Ban­non, Twink and Wag­ner from The X-Fac­tor (if my rel­a­tives are any­thing to go by). Amer­ica, how­ever, never quite got over the Kennedys and this minis­eries is fur­ther ev­i­dence of that. Still, you’ll en­joy this slice of hokey melo­drama if, like me, you en­joy a good wig.

Tor­tur­ous metaphor

Big Brother is back this week and I don’t mean the el­der Kennedy, I mean that tor­tur­ous metaphor for the Bri­tish body politic that now airs on Chan­nel 5/TV3. I know. I feel sad too. The pro­duc­ers are em­brac­ing the Big Brother house as post-Brexit iso­la­tion­ist Bri­tain “the great­est democ­racy on earth”, re­con­fig­ur­ing the set to re­sem­ble a coun­try vil­lage and fill­ing it with peo­ple who say things like, “I’m not re­ally a be­liever in love. Love is a weak­ness” and “That or­ange man, what’s he called? He got pres­i­dent. If he got pres­i­dent maybe I can get Big Brother.”

Luck­ily, Spring­watch is also on all week (BBC2). There we can watch wild crit­ters be­ing ab­so­lute ar­se­holes to each other while the pre­sen­ters make ex­cuses for them. When a jack­daw sav­ages a nest-full of swal­low chicks, for ex­am­ple, Chris Pack­ham (the owner of some won­der­fully be­quiffed plumage him­self) re­marks that “cutesy-wootsy, fluffy-wuffy, lit­tle jack­daws… need food too!” Co-host Michaela Stra­chan agrees. “You can em­pathise with the prey, but you mustn’t de­monise the preda­tor,” she says, chan­nelling many on the alt-right.

It is, as al­ways, great. We see glut­tonous beavers, kestrels and pine martins and many other things we might see for real if we ever left the couch. There’s some beau­ti­fully filmed spi­der-love, if that’s your thing (more erotic than Onas­sis-love, to be fair).

Then, at one point, we wit­ness a tiny bird of prey swal­low a vole corpse whole. “Who ate all the pies,” says Stra­chan. Which is bril­liant. Yes folks, you’ve just watched a BBC tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter fat-shame a baby barn-owl on live tele­vi­sion. God, I love Spring­watch.

Big Brother is back this week. Luck­ily Spring­watch is too. There we can watch wild crit­ters be­ing ab­so­lute ar­se­holes to each other while the pre­sen­ters make ex­cuses for them

Oh Jackie: Katie Holmes in The Kennedys: Af­ter Camelot

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