Wednesday 17 October 2018

Craig's live but hardly kicking

craig doyle live (rte2) apollo 13: the true story (five)

CRAIG Doyle's new late-night show is not, repeat not The Social. This. Is. Not. The. Social. Got that? NOT.

There are significant differences between that show and this one.

Okay, there are some differences. The big one is that it goes out live. We know this because it's called Craig Doyle Live.

We also know this because Craig keeps reminding us that it's going out live.

"Yes, we are live," he said right at the top. Then, a little bit later, he squinted conspicuously at a clock somewhere in the studio and said: "It's just coming up to seven minutes past eleven, right across the nation."

Mind you, being live doesn't add anything to the show that wouldn't already be there if it were pre-recorded earlier in the day.

Another difference is that the awful set from The Social, which was supposed to make us and the studio audience think we were hanging out with Craig and his mates at his smart pad, has been ditched in favour of a standard desk-and-chairs arrangement.

A third difference is that instead of going out once a week, like The Social did, Craig Doyle Live goes out twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

So, very different then . . . but, well, sort of not very different. Sort of the same, really, in its essential elements -- the most essential element of all being that it's trite, toothless and overwhelmingly pointless.

Mairead Farrell, who was Craig's sidekick on The Social, is his sidekick here, too. There was a kind of side-sidekick as well: a comedian called Gearoid Farrelly, who I've never heard of (my loss, I'm sure) but who's apparently won some comedy awards.

The three of them engaged in some light, under-rehearsed banter about the day's news. There was a mild poke at Aengus O Snodaigh and Printgate, which came and went as fast as the Sinn Fein TD seems to get through ink cartridges. The was a little bit about the Oscars (yawn), which relied on doctored pictures of Angelina Jolie's ubiquitous leg.

The big guest was Louis Walsh, who Craig promised would give us some "exclusive" X Factor gossip.

He didn't, really; he just did what he always does, which is big-up his own acts and dole out some sarky swipes at fellow celebrities in his "Who, me?", butter-wouldn't-melt persona.

In this case the recipient of Louis' barbs was Brian Kennedy, who's apparently been giving Jedward's Eurovision entry some flak on Twitter. Throw in a filmed report by Mairead on whether you can find love in the supermarket, plus a little audience participation, and what you're left with was a half-hour of television candyfloss: fluffy, insubstantial and quickly consumed, but of no nutritional entertainment value whatsoever. Did I mention that it's live?

"Houston, we have a problem." Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell's words when an oxygen tank exploded, threatening to damn him and his fellow crew members to a lonely death in elliptical orbit, are right up there with Neil Armstrong's "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." It's just a pity, as Apollo 13: The True Story revealed, that Lovell never actually spoke them.

What Lovell really said was, "Ah, Houston, we've had a problem." But that doesn't sound as urgent or iconic, so Ron Howard, director of the movie Apollo 13, changed the line for dramatic effect.

Neither Lovell nor anyone else involved in the mission seemed to mind. As this excellent documentary comparing how the movie measured up to the facts showed, Howard and his team got all the important technical stuff right.

True, the movie also depicted mission ground controller Gene Kranz (played by Ed Harris) briefly losing his cool, which was Howard's way of communicating the stress everyone was under. The fact that the real Kranz never raised his voice during the real crisis just makes the whole story even more extraordinary.

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