THIS REVIEW CONTAINS A MAJOR SPOILER.
As my left foot for example. Thirty-three years ago, when the country was enthralled by Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker’s triumphs at the Oscars, one would not have won many friends to claim that beyond those two notable achievements the film was average: more of a glorified TV movie as something to be shown in the cinema.
The popular sitcom directed by Lisa McGee Derry girls (Channel 4, Tuesday), now entering its third and final season, risks being included in that pantheon of critical untouchables. It is considered bad form in some circles to consider it anything less than a work of unprecedented genius.
This isn’t the fault of Ms McGee – who, I recall, hasn’t made any grandiose claims that her series, although set during The Troubles, is anything but pure nostalgic entertainment – or anyone else involved.
It’s entirely up to the marketing hype machine, and to some degree the media, who are just as guilty as anyone of putting the series on a pedestal.
Let’s be clear: we didn’t come here to bury derry girl, we have come here to praise it. It’s a beautiful series with a heart the size of a house, and it’s extremely well done.
video of the day
It’s also Channel 4’s highest-grossing sitcom since father ted – to which the lazier British critics have compared it, although the two have nothing in common.
Well, apart from the obvious thing they have in common: They’re both supposed to be funny, and Derry girls Is funny. But it’s not THAT funny. It always made me smile and giggle instead of splitting my sides.
The season opener features the familiar mix of loud, broad-based comedy leaning toward slapstick, over-the-top performances (Saoirse-Monica Jackson’s facial expressions remain as elastically over-the-top as ever), a few nods to the real events of the day (here’s a TV report on Mo Mowlam going to Maze Prison) and occasional pangs of poignancy.
The girls – Erin (Jackson), Clare (Nicola Coughlan), Michelle (Jamie-Lee McDonnell), Orla (Louisa Harland) – and the boy – James (Dylan Llewellyn) – have spent the summer making a mini film about life in to turn derry .
Erin wrote the screenplay and is doing the narration. The theme is peace.
“I’m soooo sick of the peace!” wails Michelle, who continues to get the best lines. “That’s all everyone ever makes fun of.”
Michelle thinks they should abandon the project and use James’ expensive equipment to make videos You have been framed! instead of this.
Clare reminds everyone that they have more important things to think about. The GSCE results are in the next day and she manages to trick herself and the others into believing that they must have failed miserably.
“Our lives are over,” she shrieks. “We’re girls, we’re poor, we’re from Northern Ireland and we’re CATHOLIC, for goodness sake!”
An encounter with Nurse Micheal (Siobhán McSweeney) at the video store – where Michelle mistakes Mel for Gibson brave heart for a drag queen – doesn’t lift her spirits. “Make the most of the time you have left, girls,” she says menacingly.
They then decide to break into the school and get a little taste of their findings, but end up unknowingly helping a couple of burglars escape with computers and other equipment – after which RIC men, armed to the teeth, storm the plaza .
Enter the mystery guest star, whose identity was kept under wraps until after the broadcast: Liam Neeson, who plays the disgruntled DC Byers.
It may be stunt casting, but it delivers the episode’s funnest segment as the girls cunningly train Orla’s boring Uncle Colm to wear Byers down with his boring stories of submission.
A delightfully silly subplot, in which Gerry (Tommy Tiernan) and Joe (Ian McElhinney) dispose of a pet rabbit killed by Joe’s “Psycho” cat Seamus, rounds out a rather thin episode.
Oh, and the girls pass their GCSEs. Derry girls wouldn’t be right without a pinch of sweetness at the end.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-reviews/derry-girls-review-a-mix-of-loud-broad-comedy-ott-performances-and-a-mystery-guest-star-41546910.html Derry Girls Review: A mix of loud wide comedy, OTT performances and a mystery guest star