New political satire show is no laughing matter

Ten minutes into the first instalment of the new series of the political satire show on RTÉ 1 and enough was enough. It was time to flick the switch on this unfortunate programme.

The first series of Irish Pictorial Weekly was not funny, and neither is this, which begs the question about why it was even embarked upon. It is actually embarrassingly bad.

It is a pity because the writing team behind this series have given us Apres Match and Ross O’Carroll-Kelly – both classics – but tragically this is simply not working.

Yes, they do characters like Angela Merkel, Enda Kenny, Michael Noonan, Anne Doyle, Gerry Adams along with civil servant committee that meet in the bowels of Dáil Éireann, but the spark or the imagination is not there.

There are times when political satire works better on radio than it does on the telly. The Mario Rosenstock Show is a typical example of this. What goes on radio should really stay on radio.

Rosenstock, and indeed Oliver Callan, are brilliant on radio but when it comes to reprising these characters for the bigger screen, it is an unmitigated disaster.

This show is trying desperately to give Hall’s Pictorial Weekly a 21st century look but back in the day that was a very unique series and was novel at the time. It was the first show on RTÉ to do a proper send up of politicians but also part of its success was the presenter Frank Hall who possessed a wry type of wit.

Irish Pictorial Weekly is simply a poor copy of this, and proves the old saying about what’s not broken shouldn’t be fixed.

Take, for example, the sketch involving Michael Noonan. He was being portrayed quizzically as Alfred Hitchcock with the appropriate music in the background and then when it came to the dialogue, it was desperately unfunny. Maybe the writers are trying too hard to break new ground that the comedy element has been lost in the process.

After the aforementioned 10 minutes, it seemed as if they had just copied and pasted the last series into this one as there was absolutely nothing new for the audience. It is my express hope that there will never be another series of this comedy nightmare but I suppose in the best traditions of RTE it will take years before they realise that this is an unmitigated disaster.

I give you The Late Late Show and Brendan O’Connor’s Saturday Night Show as prime examples of this.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.