Would you believe it? Sky hits us with another act of God
TV REVIEW:WHO CAN FORGET those classic editions of the Late Late Show? The one where that bishop wore a nightie, the one where Oliver J Flanagan invented sex, the one where Annie Lennox spoke about her affair with the pope, and that drunken no-holds-barred brawl featuring Peter Ustinov, George Best, Oliver Reed and Mary Kenny (actually, I was quite young and may be remembering these wrong).Of course, the force behind those nation-changing programmes never retired entirely. Gay Byrne is still responsible for Gaybo Laughs Back, The Meaning of Life and, newly back on RTÉ, For One Night Only (RTÉ One, Friday) in which he does a Gay Byrne impersonation for beloved music stars and in return they perform music for him. Sadly, in recent years he has succumbed to Jimmy Saville Syndrome. This is what happens when a television personality becomes imprisoned by their trademark tics, techniques and mannerisms: in Gay’s case a sing-song delivery, magnanimous admiring looks and a theatrical, soundless laugh.
This week he ritualistically conversed with the always watchable Sinéad O’Connor, who gamely answered the personal questions with a raised eyebrow, an amused half-smile and a typical lack of deference. Gay, on the other hand, sounded a bit like he was running through points on a checklist: inspirational Montessori teacher. Music-loving aunt. Relationship with deceased mother. Moving to London. Song. Success of Nothing Compares 2U. Ripping up a picture of the pope. Song.
To be fair, the musical format isn’t well suited to free-flowing conversation, but there’s also a sense that Gay’s not always entirely engaged. “Look at her,” he was probably thinking. “Shaved head. High heels. Dressed like a priest. On national television. I’m Gay Byrne. I carved modern Ireland from one of my ribs. Is this somehow my fault?”
STRANGE THINGS happen to television phenomena when they’ve been around for a long time. The aptly, if unimaginatively, titled supernatural drama Supernatural (Sky Living, Wednesday) began life as a tale of two hunky brothers investigating urban legends in small-town America. Seven years on and things have stepped up a bit. Now the square-jawed duo are trying to convince the human manifestation of Death to kill God.
This is pretty heady stuff – more Milton meets Nietzsche than The Hardy Boys meets Scooby Doo – and I’m not sure there’s a future in it. I mean, where can you go after deicide, either dramatically or theologically? Luckily it’s made clear that the God in question isn’t the Judeo Christian Yahweh after all, but is an all-powerful version of the duo’s angel chum Castiel (a trench-coat wearing hunk). So the fraternal hunks, Dean and Sam, incant some Latin-sounding mumbo-jumbo, daub arcane symbols on the walls in blood, and flirt with some man-shaped manifestations of good and evil (there wasn’t a female speaking part in the whole episode).
Soon Castiel isn’t God any longer: he becomes a different all-powerful demonic creature called Leviathan . . . which feels like a disappointing demotion after being God. Soon, no doubt, Leviathan will be revealed to be a minor supervillain called Duck Man. And eventually they’ll be ripping off Duck Man’s rubber mask to reveal that it was the caretaker from the old disused funfair all along. “And I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you hunks!” he’ll say, and we’ll all breathe a sigh of relief, happy to be back in a more manageable narrative.