It’s amazing what reality TV is like. From Carrigstown – well, maybe not Carrigstown to be exact – to The Crown, broadcasters sweat blood to make what they do seem real, a perfect replica of what we see in the real world. our literal world. Just look at the news.
With all the realism and jittery scenes on our screens, it’s easy to forget how well television can do magic, can do fantasy, and can do madness. Maybe some TV companies need to increase drug budgets again.
That brings us to Mustard (RTÉ2, Thursday). This used to be a play by Eva O’Connor, and I have a bad feeling about it because plays are often not conveyed well on television. But it’s hard to believe Mustard the play could be better Mustard Dramma. Eva O’Connor also wrote this TV version and played the title character. I thought it was very good. What a surprise. I can’t tell you the plot – even if the trailer is on YouTube – because you might want to watch it on RTÉ Player and you should.
Even the costumes are excellent, but I can’t tell you why or how, because that would also detract from the plot. All I can say is Mustard deals with some very realistic subjects – especially the perverted relationship many of us, especially women and girls, have with food. But the whole thing is wrapped up in what’s almost like a fairy tale, and brought together by Eva O’Connor’s committed performance as Eilish.
Director Hildegard Ryan deserves the highest praise for managing many realities, from Eilish leaving Dublin to be with her mother and dog, to whom her mother directs a lot of her conversations “by because Eilish has no friends”, to the extraordinary sexual abandonment scenes. It keeps you entertained all the way and the ending is unexpected but satisfying.
My only real criticism of Mustard is, oddly enough, bird. I don’t think there are any geese on the banks of the Royal Canal or the Grand Canal in Dublin. If not, Mustard shows only what can be done in less than half an hour of screen time; it makes you reflect on the lingering frustrations we all go through most of the time.
Mustard is one of three seasons of the new TV series, Storyland, will continue on RTÉ2 for the next two weeks. It will be very difficult to get to the top.
Modern Irish life
You know: you wait your whole life for RTÉ to do something imaginative about modern Irish life, and then two imaginative dramas appear on the same night. Darren & Joe’s Free Gaff was broadcast on RTÉ2 shortly after Mustard (Am I the only one who watched RTÉ2 on Thursday?). This I also approached with fear. I think Darren and Joe are on social media and I think they put together a sketch in No worries if not. That’s not a good start for terrestrial TVs. They are comedians after all, and this is a fictional setting for them.
Darren and Joe share a house in Dublin. Darren is incredibly weird. Every week, if I get it right, they are joined by a guest actor. On Thursday, they featured Jen Hatton, who is too gorgeous to be Joe’s girlfriend, but delivers an equally stellar performance.
The same is true because Darren Conway and Joe McGucken and the guest cast are the only ones with the speaking part. Both major scenes in the first episode revolved around the boys jostling with their attendants – one was with a Dublin bus driver who protested when Jen didn’t thank him – and all were can get a little confusing, but somehow it doesn’t. ‘t. Just three actors gave me a strange reassurance, and it’s amazing how quickly one gets used to it. It’s also great to see something on RTÉ that doesn’t involve actors with a Dublin accent – I’m looking at you, Carrigstown – but actually has actors yes Dublin accent.
Video of the day
The crazier it is, the better it is. Because its reality is so believable, the madness is also believable. And Darren, Joe and Jen are very comfortable with all of that, very confident in moving into the other world. I wish we could go to Darren’s happy place every week. But Dublin is broken in it Darren & Joe’s Free Gaff is very correct ring setting. “The only thing that has changed is the coffee,” growled Darren at another guest performer, Killian Sundermann, who has received a lot of punishment for being middle-class and perhaps even a Southsider ( unite, Killian!), in another episode. But Sundermann also excelled, if not exactly, as a member of An Garda Síochána. Good voice.
I assume Jen is Joe’s girlfriend because they were sitting very close together while watching TV. It’s interesting to note that, as far as I can see in the episodes I’ve watched, and unlike Mustard, Darren and Joe don’t really touch sex. Although the characters want to. This is of course the undeniable truth of great male doubles.
The strongest point of the series is the relationship between Darren and Joe: Darren is in dire need and Joe is struggling to find his way into a hostile world. I want more scenes than just the two of them. This is really Strange couple in a new century. It’s sponsored by Burger King, it’s kind of perfect.
Remarkable, Darren & Joe’s Free Gaff run for only 13 minutes each and all of them are available on RTÉ Player right now. I can’t believe I recommended RTÉ Player – twice – I had to prepare something.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-reviews/rtes-excellent-mustard-packs-a-dramatic-punch-42082315.html RTÉ’s great mustard makes an impressive punch