Minced morsels, a stale tale, rich presentation and a sizzling Danish
TV3’s new series ‘Deception’ is a melodrama that sorely lacks the sort of meaty storylines served by ‘Borgen’
This week TV3 climbed out of its fake-tan pit – yes, Tallafornia and Dublin Wives are back, and congratulations if you’ve missed either of these cringy reality shows – and bravely dipped its toe in grown-up drama. The six-part Deception (TV3, Monday) is the station’s first attempt at a drama series.
It’s about a bust property developer, Jack French (Conor Mullen); his busty wife, Catriona (Leigh Arnold), home from a cosmetic-surgery trip to the US; and a murder in one of his unsold houses. When a kid discovers the body – a man face down in a sea of raspberry ripple – he charges the other kids in the neighbourhood for a look.
Deception may have been trying to say something here about the Celtic Tiger sloping off, leaving a young generation of psychos – or maybe not: it was hard to figure out at any point what this cheap-looking drama was trying to say.
Other characters include a bailiff come to repossess the Frenches’ worldly goods – “distract him, show him your boobs,” says Catriona to Aoife (Nora-Jane Noone), her plain-Jane friend – a taxi-driving mother with a sideline in drug dealing; a debt-ridden tradesman; and an elderly neighbour (Jim Norton) who wanders, grumbling, in and out of various scenes.
It’s set in Galway, and every now and then there’s a random shot of the city, although almost everyone speaks as if they live on the Dart line. After episode one Deception could go anywhere.
This isn’t a serious prime-time drama. Chopped into half-hour bites, with its daft storylines, unintentional comedy and low production values, Deception would make a good afternoon or early-evening soap – the Galway Fair City.
At that time audiences expect, in a guilty-pleasure sort of way, relationships that don’t quite make sense, stilted dialogue loaded with exposition – “What’s going on? Oh, they found a dead body in No 1” – random plot diversions and acting so melodramatic you could turn the sound off and still get the message. Thanks to Love/Hate, the new bar for prime-time Irish TV drama is high, and Deception just doesn’t clear it.
Ironically, Raw (RTÉ One, Sunday), the series that helped raise the standards for Irish TV drama five years ago with its slick look, refreshing characters and atmospheric soundtrack, is now far beyond its best-by date. It has boxed itself into a very tight corner in terms of character, plot and even location: how 2008 is that restaurant looking?
Jojo (Charlene McKenna), once a cool maverick, is now simply irritating, with a will-she-or-won’t-she-go storyline that’s already stale because it’s obvious she’ll stay. Shane (Keith McErlean) is still, for no obvious reason, the babe magnet at the centre of another love triangle. And there’s a new arrogant sexy chef to replace last season’s arrogant sexy chef.
Poor Aisling O’Sullivan, though. There are cardboard dress-up dolls that are less two-dimensional than her linchpin character of Fiona, Raw’s owner. Even she must be tired of arching her brows, sniping out her dialogue and marching around the kitchen looking cross. It’s only the first episode, and Raw looks tired and predictable.
A better choice on a Sunday night is the gorgeous – more raiding of the Edwardian dressing-up box – Mr Selfridge (UTV). Written by the period-drama veteran Andrew Davies, it is based on Lindy Woodhead’s biography of the American retail visionary who arrived in London in 1909 with grand plans for a department store.