COLM O'REGAN: Opening Lines: TV isn't escapism for me anymore

Peow-peow-peoh , fufufufufuf!” The guns blazed. Bullets splintered the door frame. 

The legs of the heroine disappeared around the corner as she escaped the multiple assassins, who had previously been renowned for their marksmanship but now experienced an acute, collective loss of form.

“OH C’MON!” I shouted at the TV device for streaming. “How could they possibly have missed her?” There are times when I am not good company. The problem is to do with TV programmes and my inability to suspend disbelief. Perhaps, as Patrick Kavanagh said on the poem ‘Is It Coming Up On The Leaving Cert?’, “... [I] have tasted and tested too much ... through a chink too wide comes in no wonder.”

We’re currently working our way through The Blacklist. It’s a fun, occasionally ludicrously plotted, FBI show. Despite having no real knowledge of the FBI’s modus operandi, let alone secret Black Ops departments sequestered in underground bunkers, I nevertheless let loose a torrent of invective against their decision to let Agent Kean go into abandoned warehouses on her own when, clearly, this was a time to call for back up.

It seems these days I can’t enjoy conventional crime drama because everything else going on is so gritty. Complex, messy, realistic is the order of the day. Flawed heroes who make us work hard to like them, complicated bad-fellas with occasional flashes of humanity.

Watching TV is so much effort.

It used to be different. I never wondered why no one died in the A-Team, why Colonel Decker couldn’t capture even one of the A-team permanently and never enlisted the help of the other law-enforcement agencies. Why was he pursuing the A-team so vigorously when there was a hell of a lot more went wrong in Vietnam than one bank raid in Hanoi? We didn’t care. Decker was a FierceBadFella and that was all that mattered.

Now it’s got worse. I’ve started applying modern organisational practices and theory to old villains.

In movies with any kind of arch FierceBadFella with a large supporting organisation, I find myself wondering: “Why is that group staying together when the team dynamic is so bad?”

Take Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I used to love it. But now towards the end of the film, there is a chase through the jungle. Indy and the Head Evil Fella (HEF) with the sacred/evil stone are fighting over the stone on a rope bridge. The rope bridge breaks and junior level BadFellas fall into a river (where there are crocodiles — natch). The HEF climbs up the ropes and along the way throws his own men off the rope. “That’s terrible man-management!” I say to the HEF. At some stage he’ll need to put together a new team. But who in the BadFella community is going to work for him with those kind of HR practices?

When I watch an old James Bond I’m disappointed that we never hear from the white-suited lads beavering away inside the mountain. How were they hired? Where do they get their breakfast rolls? Why, at no point does someone say “He wants to do what? With A laser? And where’s he going to get the staff to do that? I should have gone for the voluntary redundancy when it was on offer.”

Surely the shark tank should have had a health and safety guy working there. Or at least a cert. Maybe I’m just keeping it too real.

I think I’ll watch Oireachtas Report. For the escapism.


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