Tuesday 12 November 2019

RTE cooks up an appetising drama

RAW DEAL: The Celtic Tiger days may be over, but this series will still pull in punters
RAW DEAL: The Celtic Tiger days may be over, but this series will still pull in punters

AN ECONOMIC downturn can be the enemy of a contemporary drama.

As house prices drop, construction slows and the Celtic Tiger quietly pads off into the shade, Raw, RTE2’s sparky new ensemble drama about seven 20-somethings in Dublin, already looks a little like a period piece.

The fact that much of the action is set in the kitchen of the trendy restaurant that gives the series its title adds to the slightly dated feel. But don’t let that – or indeed the migraineinducing promos for the series RTE has been running – put you off, because this is a sharp and nifty piece of work.

There’s a whiff of This Life about it, yet Raw is warmer and more upbeat. Charlene McKenna, so good recently in Whistleblower, leads a bright young cast as the feisty and outspoken JoJo.

Her big brother Shane (Keith McErlean, spruced up since his Bachelor’s Walk days) has walked out on his job with a London law firm, as well as on his wife.

Charming, manipulative English womaniser Bobby (Liam Garrigan), is having a few cash flow problems of his own: he’s in hock to drug dealers who want either their coke or their money back and have already smashed his pretty-boy nose as part payment.

The cast is rounded out by Shelley Conn, Pavel Hadek, Dominique McElligott, Damon Gameau and Michael Colgan, and very good they are too.

Lisa McGee’s tight, coherent script for this episode, a swirling cocktail of sex, drugs and funny lines deftly knitted together by director Kieron J Walsh, moved along at a fine clip.

Aside from slight reservations about the self-conscious Cool Dublinia aura hanging over the series, this was a fine start. Well worth reserving a table for the next five Monday nights.

From a feast to a famine, or rather the awkwardly titled Where Was Your Family During the Famine? in which celebrities traced their family histories back to the darkest period in the country’s history. What we had here was a scaled-down version of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?

It had the distinct feel of something which had perhaps been envisaged as a three-part series, before someone decided, unwisely I think, to lump it into a single 90-minute documentary. The result was a disjointed and at times ponderous film.

Jasmine Guinness wanted to trace her mother’s side of the family, the Caseys, but discovered, by the by, that the man himself, Arthur Guinness, appeared to be largely unaware of the devastation wrought by the famine.

Langerland.tv is an extension of a satirical website and uses rudimentary animation. The jokes are rudimentary too, and not very funny.

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