Tuesday 12 December 2017

Sarge reaches breaking point

operation transformation (rte1) rasai na gaillimhe (tg4)

TODAY we're going to see who's really doing their homework," promised the army's Sgt Nick Mulcahy, ominously, on Operation Transformation.

Our team of weight-loss warriors had been issued with their list of exercises by trainer Karl Henry and had been doing them -- or were supposed to be doing them -- three times a week. Now it was time to see the results, pumped and sweated out in the gym under the unforgiving eyes of Sarge and his female sidekick.

We had known in advance that this wasn't going to end well. There had already been a report in this very newspaper that Sarge threw a most unmilitary-like strop and stormed off, although he'd been unwilling to give away the precise details of what got his three stripes bristling.

It didn't take long for us to find out. "That was muck!" bellowed Sarge at his overweight charges, who were flopping around like gasping goldfish as they struggled to get their bottoms off a bench, on to the floor and back on to the bench again during the tricep dips.

"If they'd been doing this at home it should be easier," offered Kathryn Thomas from the safety of her voiceover. "Demonstrate one for me," said Sarge. They each did. "Excellent," said Sarge. Alas, it wasn't the one that was a problem, but the 19 that followed.

This was bad, but the squat jumps were even worse. Sarge honed in like a heat-seeking missile on Natalie, whose squat jumps were all squat and no jump. "THIS is a squat jump," said Sarge, demonstrating, "not THIS," making with his hands like he was milking a cow. "Nataleeee! You're not workin', you're bluffin'!"

It was someone else's turn to take the flak during the press-ups. "Grace -- what the hell is that? All you're doing is pushing your backside backwards and forwards!" Grace, face down on the mat, as if absorbed in the act of morning worship, later said, "I actually have weak wrists."

By the end, Sarge seemed to be doing the exercises alone as his charges rolled around the floor like cracked marbles. He'd had enough. "Karl, go back to the drawing board," he snarled, leaving the trainer with a face like a collapsed vaulting horse, and offered a parting "Bulls**t!" as he stomped out the door.

There's nothing like a bit of conflict to liven up a dull series and conflict has been bubbling uneasily beneath the surface since last week, when Dr Eva Orsmond's criticism of Natalie caused her to blurt out the embarrassing revelation that she'd been suffering from constipation.

Natalie went to ground for a few days, refusing to answer either her phone or her doorbell, but eventually emerged for a night out with her gal pals. Returning to the OT fray refreshed and four pounds lighter, she proclaimed: "I'll suck the stuff out of me with a vacuum if I have to." I think even Sgt Mulcahy's iron constitution might be challenged by that one.

With the Irish Film & Television Awards looming on the weekend horizon, madcap comedy-thriller romp Rasai na Gaillimhe, which picked up a gong at last year's bash, returned for a new series, set as before over the seven hedonistic days of the titular horseracing meet.

Sharply written by James Phelan, crisply directed by Robert Quinn and performed with obvious relish by a large Irish cast in great form, Rasai na Gaillimhe is a hyperactive hoot, casting its net wide across a gallery of grotesques but usually reeling in the gags.

While it would be unfair to single out particular cast members (the performances are uniformly excellent), Don Wycherley's drunken TD Ultan Keane, his political career in near-ruins and his marriage not so much on the rocks as buried under a mound of rubble, is a wonderful comic creation.

Carrie Crowley as the garda officer struggling to keep a lid on things but handicapped by a back-up force of idiots is also outstanding. Terrific fun.

Operation Transformation HHIII

Rasai na Gaillimhe HHHII

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