The Late Late Show is a dinosaur that’s trying to be cool down at the Zoo. The format is tired. The same D-celebrity guests keep reappearing. Often, the interviews are embarrassingly gushing.
Of course it still has its moments, and for a certain section of Irish society the temptation remains to tune in, to always check out the Late Late. We’re conditioned…brainwashed by that owl, lured by the legend of decades of memorable TV. But how much more can we endure?
After the summer break, the show was back tonight, admittedly with an impressive line-up (as Late Late line-ups go). The interview with Dr. Sammar Ali, whose father, Dr. Syed Waqqar Ali, died after contracting Covid-19, was heartbreaking and deeply poignant.
After a glass of wine and a busy week, I napped through the Micheal O’Muircheartaigh interview. Dr. Ronan Glynn (the new Dr. Tony Holahan) was impressive. He’s grown into the role, but I don’t approve of the Late Late foisting more Covid content on to us on a Friday night.
Tonight’s was quite a good show, but the sense remains that the Late Late’s frustratingly odd format – where it’s not unusual for a comedian to be followed by a story of personal tragedy – is symptomatic of a terminally damaged TV entity.
My free advice to RTE remains: End the Late Late! Or, if advertising revenues and stubbornness must win the day, radically change it. If it’s meant to be an entertainment show, drop the sad ‘human’ stories. Cut it to a maximum of 90 minutes. If you must dip into current affairs, have a panel of guests reflect on the stories of the week. The often infuriating presenter, well meaning and all as he is, is a big part of the problem too.
In reality, I think it’s all too…eh…late. It’s been a great journey, but – despite its occasional bright nights – maybe it really is time for the Late Late Show to be put out to pasture. Every owl has its day.
They unveiled a giant mural of US Presidential candidate Joe Biden in Ballina last week. But I’m not sure that he’s the real deal. I’m not even sure if Joe is Mayo’s most capable politician! It may be appropriate that there’s a discount store across from the mural.
And so, as Ballina declares for Biden, one might ask if Tourmakeady will declare for Trump? As least of equal importance is this question: Is Biden suited to be ‘Leader of the free world’? Biden, the Democratic Party’s candidate – the man tasked with trying to end the Trump soap opera – has been uninspiring in a campaign which admittedly has barely got past the starting blocks (due to the pandemic).
The Biden camp’s tactic has been to lie low, trusting that Trump – damaged by his slow and often chaotic response to Covid-19 – will gift the White House to the Democrats.
There was some logic to this approach initially. Over and above the usual controversy and drama one associates with the Trump regime, the president has had a rocky summer, with the pandemic causing human and economic carnage, and with widespread social unrest simmering in major cities as racial tensions erupted following the killing by police of George Floyd.
However, it was never realistic that this ‘Joe lies low’ tactic would be guaranteed to carry Mr. Biden over the line. Unsurprisingly, in the last week or two he has belatedly accepted that he has to come out and fight his eccentric, unique opponent.
For all the derision Trump is subjected to, he is still very much in this race. In fact, until Covid struck earlier this year, Trump was probably favourite to win November’s election. As an unprecedented summer elapsed, his chances looked dead and buried, but I think he’s back in contention now.
It’s clear from watching American TV networks and from observing social media that Trump’s America is dangerously divided. Trump has had many successes (the economy was thriving before the pandemic), but overall he has been a hugely divisive force. Much of the world watches Trump with unease, shock, disbelief…but his unpredictability and eccentricity appeals to millions of Americans, many of them long disillusioned with an establishment that has left them behind.
Into this broken environment steps Trump, with his extraordinary mix of street-fighting and celebrity appeal. Contrary to some of the scornful media coverage he receives, Trump is brilliant at selling himself and his ‘America first’ message. I’m no fan of Trump’s, but I think people who see him as a fool are completely underestimating him.
By contrast, Biden strikes me as a weak candidate. I am at a loss as to how the Democrats failed to put forward a more dynamic and inspirational candidate. Biden – mainly because he’s not Trump, and because of Covid-19 – is still favourite to win. But Trump is the better campaigner, and if he gets to take Biden on in public, with glove off, he is capable of making this a tight and dirty fight.
In Ballina last week – reflecting his Mayo links – they plastered Joe Biden’s smiling face across the wall of a building. It remains to be seen if the writing is on the wall for Trump.
The Certain Type of Man was feeding the cattle when the news broke. Obviously, he didn’t get it through Twitter. His phone didn’t ping, not that he knows anyway. Instead, in scenes reminiscent of when World War II ended, neighbours came running through the fields…to declare the good news. When he digested it – that the pubs are reopening on September 21st – he could hardly believe it.
“The wet ones?” he asked Mrs. Reilly (89). “Yes, the wet ones” she exclaimed. Even the not socially distancing cattle seemed to allow themselves a smile.
The Certain Type of Man will be ready. He knows it won’t be straightforward, it won’t be like it was. He’s bulling about the ‘table service only’ ruling; he may launch a ‘Back to the counter’ campaign in the future, but for now, he’ll (reluctantly) be grateful for small mercies.
He’s not sure if he’ll go back to the local on the Monday night, but he knows he’ll relaunch no later than midweek.
He’ll sit back – reluctantly – but he’ll venture near the counter at every opportunity, under the guise of passing en route to the toilets, or needing a closer look at the poster on the wall.
He’ll be ready, make no mistake about it. He’s far from happy overall, but it’s a start. He’s ready too for the other customers, whether battle-hardened fogies like him, or young bucks or young wans.
Secretly, he’s beside himself with excitement at all he has to get off his chest. In fact, he has a list done out already, a list of all the stuff he needs to comment on (Hogan, not opening pubs, Varadkar & Martin, China, Trump, no fans at GAA matches, etc). He’s glad that ould Normal People shi*te has died down.
He’ll be ready alright. He’s damn glad that he won’t have to feign knowledge of pizzas from a menu. He just wants a proper feckin’ pint, a match on the telly, and a bit of normality. The Certain Type of Man is back in business.