The 2 Johnnies attack each other
RTÉ2, Monday, 9:30 p.m.
UTV, Wednesday, 9 p.m.
Remember when travel programs were presented by people who weren’t just there for the money and fame, but who were actually curious about the places and cultures they were visiting?
These days, they tend to outsource the work to celebrities. This week’s Gordon, Gino and Fred Go Greek saw chefs Gordon Ramsay and Gino D’Acampo and First Dates master Fred Sirieix set off on another of their trips. They had fun on a speedboat. One of them fell. They also prepared food to showcase Greece’s “underrated cuisine”. Is Greek cuisine underestimated? Surely everyone loves Greek cuisine?
The show’s formula is basically Ramsay as a competitive dad, D’Acampo as the naughty child, and Fred as the stabilizing influence – presumably sort of a loose Id, Ego, and Superego arrangement. It’s so choreographed that it’s clinical and joyless.
If Ireland’s Historic Gardens were on ITV, it would be featured by Maura Higgins of Love Island. Or Brendan O’Carroll as Mrs. Brown. Instead, it came from author / historian Robert O’Byrne, who truly has a passion for great Irish houses, the people who lived there and, in the case of this new series, the gardens that they created.
It’s really a two-hour feature film, split into two parts for ease of programming, and, without wanting to offend you, it’s not the sort of thing you’d expect to find on RTÉ2.
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There are no bells and whistles. O’Byrne just gets the job done, in this case looking at 17 stunningly beautiful gardens across the country, from the 17th century onwards, a time when, as he delicately puts it, “the country was still there. rather disturbed ”. Carrying his learning lightly, he quickly offered a beginner’s guide outlining the fashions and cultures of the era that made these gardens what they are, shifting the more formal and symmetrical style to a later romantic lean. for cultivated wilderness, including false abbeys and ruined castles. . It was pure sensory pleasure, but there was also meat.
Coming to Cocooned without knowing what to expect was a strange experience. The most striking thing about this silent study of the lives of older people during the lockdown, from the spring of 2020 when Covid first appeared, was the way the first scenes were filmed – from the outside, to through the windows while the elderly spoke on the phone to their loved ones. , or director Ken Wardrop – for an effective visual representation of the effect of enforced isolation.
The bursts of cheerful Gogglebox-style music seemed unnecessary; it would have been more relevant against a background of silence. But as with Gogglebox, the people on the screen were what mattered.
Calling them great people sounds condescending, but they were, and their observations were so skillfully edited that the monologues ended up sounding as if their lines were written by Alan Bennett, notably the woman who reproached the Japanese (sic ) eat bats. and “curries and all that stuff over there”. The woman who casually mentioned her penchant for rapper Eminem’s “first stuff” was almost too perfect, and this Cavan man deserves a series of his own.
Cocooned only spoke lightly of the decline in mental and physical health suffered by so many during the lockdown, but he captured the weirdness and tension of the past 18 months perfectly, and how he was lifted with stoic humor. as, after a brief hiatus in semi-normality, the country closed again last winter and resumed filming through windows in the dark. This era will never be better summed up than by a woman’s pithy answer to the familiar question: how are you? “It’s not right, it’s stopped.”
The first question that came to my mind while watching The 2 Johnnies Take On … was: who are the two Johnnies? “We are Ireland’s biggest podcasters,” was the reply. Their task? To take on new challenges that would take them “completely out of our depth and out of our comfort zone”.
They started out by trying to become the stars of the social media app, TikTok, which, to be fair, didn’t seem so far out of their comfort zone since they are already media personalities. They started out by meeting “some of Ireland’s best TikTokers,” including a young woman who had 108 million views for a video in which she sticks cloves of garlic in her nose. It set the tone for what was to come. It was quick, it was wacky, it was, well, trying a little too hard.
Who was it for? Regular terrestrial TV audiences probably wouldn’t have been so interested, and young people who love TikTok surely would have had more interesting things to do at 9 p.m. on a Monday night. Like going to TikTok.
Secrets in the suburbs. It’s a genre on its own these days. The last example is Hollington Drive.
A child goes missing. The pleasant and idyllic life of the bourgeois community is not so pleasant. Two sisters suspect their own children may be involved. “We didn’t raise a monster,” one of their husbands said, but did we? And what are the sisters themselves hiding? Clearly something, because there are still three episodes left.
Done well, that sort of thing can be captivating, and Hollington Drive features Motherland’s incomparable Anna Maxwell Martin. Unfortunately, something is not gelling yet. The spectacle seems distant, almost unreal. It can still work. We’ll see.