'Ilove my arse," says Darragh, a young Irish holiday-maker partying on the island of Crete. "Everyone says it's chunky. I love chunkiness." On cue he shows us his arse. Then he shows us his arse again. Darragh's friends can't get enough of Darragh's arse. To his people he is a great poet and philosopher and his arse is his life's work.
However, some people have no respect for other cultures. Later in the evening, Darragh accidentally shows the local deputy mayor his arse whilst weeing on the side of the road. When the deputy mayor stops his moped and approaches Darragh (who waggles his arse at him welcomingly), he doesn't say, "Excuse me young man, but I wanted to stop and compliment you on your magnificent arse; I have been a deputy mayor of this town for many years and I have never seen such a fantastic arse." No, instead he delivers a stern telling-off and threatens Darragh with jail.
"I didn't know that indecent exposure was a big deal over here," slurs Darragh sadly. It made me want to take that crusty old deputy mayor and shake him. Do you stop the nightingale singing? The eagle soaring? Or the gazelle running? And yet you stop Darragh showing everyone his arse?
TV3's Boozed Up Irish Abroad was an exploitative fly-on-the-wall documentary in which clueless young people ran around the Mediterranean gaily vomiting, humping, shouting and weeing on one another.
Darragh's fantastic buttocks notwithstanding, it was hard not to feel that perhaps this wasn't what the great patriots had in mind for the children of Eire when they laid the foundations of the state. No, if the programme featured any comely young maidens dancing at crossroads, they were getting sick on themselves while doing so. And if anything the title underplayed the grotesqueness of it all. While one drunken youth attempted to steal a disabled person's scooter, another grinded against a pole-dancer, a third recounted a heroic story about scoring with "a whale of a woman", and a fourth was carried home over his friend's shoulder, I could think of at least three more appropriate titles: Arse-Fest 2010, We Have Failed Our Children and The Irish Experiment in Self Governance is Over.
Meanwhile on RTÉ there was a documentary called Freefall which should have been called Boozed Up Irish At Home, featuring as it did a home-grown banking industry that got pissed on easy credit, regularly got into bed with people it shouldn't have, and liked to show its arse to the Irish people. The banking crisis is fast turning into a folk religion in which journalists and economists are the high priests and what was initially a diverting tale of arrogant hubris has slowly, through over-familiarity, become as exciting as a good bout of mass. We really have seen it all before.
Freefall's main addition to the recession documentary canon is a melodramatic horror-movie soundtrack very similar to that of the first Jaws movie. In this context, Anglo Irish Bank is clearly the shark, out of shot for ages, but then surfacing to take a bite out of the taxpayer at around the halfway mark. All the talking heads want to be seen as Richard Dreyfuss or Roy Scheider, running along the beach urging people not to swim, while Brian Lenihan, aka the Mayor of Amity Island ("There is no shark problem"), now talks about issues of water safety like a true believer.
Freefall also features plenty of other stock features regularly used to trick the viewing public into learning things. Significant dates are accompanied by the sound of a typewriter as the words ("Thursday 17th of September") appear on the screen. Men in suits with weighty opinions are not thought to be visually stimulating by television types these days, so the interviews with Irish and international economists, politicians and journalists are interspersed with hyperactive footage of buildings, motorways, crowded footpaths in Dublin, New York and London, at night and day, from the ground and from the air, sped up and slowed down, cutting and zooming and filtered in a dramatic fashion.
Sometimes this footage seems entirely random, while at other times it seems like an attempt at pointed visual allegory. But it's hard to tell.
After Lenihan outlines how he feared people losing confidence in the banks in the run-up to the guarantee, we see footage of a fire engine with sirens blazing. Is this a metaphor (and if so what's it a metaphor for?) or is it just a random bit of footage? Maybe it's simply an indication that the finance minister, drunk on power, likes to travel by fire engine now.
If so, he's not the only person on television with a particular vehicular fetish. U Be Dead was a one-off drama which began with David Morrissey winning a boat race before going back to toast his success with his beautiful wife (Tara Fitzgerald) in his houseboat. This was the best bit of the film.
If Morrissey had gone on to wear nothing but aquatically-themed clothes and a boat-shaped hat before revealing his name to be Boaty Boaterson, a boat-detective specialising in boat-crime, then it might have been interesting. But U Be Dead was actually based on a real case in which a deranged stalker made life hell for a real couple, Jan and Debbie, before falsely accusing Jan of rape, and eventually being found out and imprisoned.
Sadly for the dramatic recreation, their unseen enemy tormented them with that most untelevisual of mediums, the mobile phone text (in Sherlock, Steven Moffat found a great way around this problem by having the text appear onscreen like speech bubbles, but that doesn't happen here).
She also didn't appear for the first half of the film, which meant that the film makers were dependent for drama on sudden phone-rings, musical crescendos and scenes of Jan and Debbie fighting with each other. If the characters were interesting enough to bear high levels of psychodrama this would be fine, but for the most part the fictional version of the couple are just grumpy ciphers. I couldn't for the life of me see what the stalker saw in them.
If I was going to stalk anyone it would probably be the far more charismatic family in Bouquet of Barbed Wire, another ITV drama, this time a remake of a 1970s drama that upset everyone at the time with its frank and disturbing tales of highly-sexed middle-class people.
Nowadays, "frank and disturbing tales of highly-sexed middle-class people" is the dictionary definition of British television drama (possibly even children's television) and is likely to upset no one (except possibly under-sexed middle-class people). And despite the fact that everyone in this programme seems to have barely suppressed sexual feelings for everyone else (fathers for daughters, bosses for secretaries, angry young men from the north for posh private schoolgirls from the south), a combination of beautiful photography, well-paced scripting and excellent acting (particularly from paterfamilias Trevor Eve) means that this saga of secrets and obsession actually brims with dramatic energy and doesn't just mark time between sex scenes. Darragh from Boozed Up Irish Abroad, if he's serious about his television career, should look into becoming an arse-double for dramas like this.