TV & Radio

Good things for chilly Tuesday evenings
Two new TV dramas to recommend for the winter evenings

BBC's The Missing starring James Nesbitt.

This week I have two new TV dramas to recommend for the winter evenings. The Missing (BBC One, Tuesdays) features the always-reliable James Nesbitt as a man whose child goes missing on a holiday in France. As sometimes happens in such cases, his marriage breaks up; his ex-wife moves on but he remains obsessed with finding out what happened and, eight years after the disappearance, he returns to France to follow up another clue.

He annoys the locals but the detective who originally worked the case reluctantly helps him out, leading to a shock discovery at the end of the episode. The thriller elements are well maintained and the show is admirably character driven as it teases out an emotional story without being sentimental. The visual style is distinctive, with flashbacks used effectively – a sunny past contrasted with a gloomy present. 

Also starting Tuesday of last week was Resurrection (RTÉ2), a new US drama about a young boy apparently back from the dead, a plot similar to last year’s The Returned (Les Revenants) shown on Channel 4. The latter, a French production, was quirky and broody, visually stylish with a strong sense of menace and some gratuitous ‘adult content’. The US series is quite different as it is told in a more conventional fashion, and the boy in this version conveys a sense of innocence, while his French equivalent exuded menace in a quite unnerving way.

The characters are quite appealing and there are some touching moments as the return of the boy drags up some unresolved emotions along with a few dark secrets. It’s good to see a TV drama that acknowledges the place of religion and church-going in American communities. The sympathetic local pastor was a childhood friend of the boy and doesn’t know what to make of his return. He preaches regularly about the miracles of Jesus, but is thrown into confusion when what appears to be a miracle lands right in front of him. His hesitant, confused sermon as the boy arrives in Church is well handled. This show also ends with a shock revelation… roll on Tuesdays!

However, as both dramas involve threat to young children, they won’t be to everybody’s taste.

The media obliged with plenty of publicity when the same Tuesday saw pro-abortion women making a fuss by importing and then ceremoniously taking abortion pills – seemed like non-pregnant women taking abortion pills to show how safe they were for pregnant women. Lovely logic.

That night, one of them – Ruth Coppinger TD – was challenged on this point on Tonight With Vincent Browne (TV 3). As proof of their safety she had said: “I took one and I’m still here.”

Browne also challenged her on defying the will of the people as expressed in the Constitution, but, as she went on about how allegedly safe these pills were, Browne failed to raise the most obvious point – these pills are certainly not safe for the baby in question, and are in fact designed to be unsafe.

Another thorny social issue, same sex marriage, was the subject of debate on last weekend’s Saturday With Brian Dowling (RTÉ Radio 1). It was fairly well balanced but fragmented. Senator Ronan Mullen laid down some important markers, especially that the debate had to be fair, and in particular he criticised Light Entertainment in RTÉ for abusing its position with the agenda pushing and manipulation on the issue.

Minister of State Ged Nash gave an indication of what I fear will be the government’s approach by getting in a dig at ‘the religious right’ and at Mullen personally. Derek Byrne, a gay man, opposed same sex marriage for offering gay people a ‘pastiche of heterosexual life’, and driving gay people to conformity, while Senator Katherine Zappone supported it on equality grounds. Fr Vincent Twomey said he’d welcome a debate about equality. Now there’s a good idea.

Finally, one of RTÉ light entertainment’s most positive contributions last week was an item on last Thursday’s John Murray Show (RTE Radio 1). Murray interviewed Fr Joe and Bro. Vincent about a new Franciscan prayer book The Simplest Prayer. Already selling well, I suspect it will be hot property this Christmas. Fr Joe told an interesting story about forgiveness while Bro. Vincent, formerly a chef, had an interesting vocation story. Both finished by reciting some prayers from the book – I suspect some lives were touched.