Wednesday, January 31, 2018

My Day in Ros na Rún, Part 2

In Part 1 of My Day in Ros na Rún, I told you how this adventure came about, what my husband Mark and I did during the day we spent in Spiddal visiting Ros na Rún, and what it’s like to be an extra and film a scene on the show. In this installment I’ll talk about the time we spent with the cast and crew and try to give a better sense of who and what it takes to bring a show as complex as Ros na Rún to the screen.

I mentioned last time that Annamaria Nic Dhonnacha (Bobbi-Lee) and Marie Bheag Breathnach (Mo) were our hosts and tour guides. Marie was filming that day, but it was Annamaria’s day off, which made it even sweeter that she came in and spent her entire day with us! When we first entered the lot we saw “Cóilí Jackie” rushing from one place to another near the green room—I never spotted him again and we didn’t get to meet him. As I mentioned earlier, when Marie and Annamaria took us to see hair and makeup, Máire Eilís Ní Fhlaithearta (Caitríona) was in the chair and we chatted with her a bit. She’s lovely, and definitely has a mischievous twinkle in her eye—and is also beautiful, even with her hair in rollers and her makeup only half done! She popped into the green room a time or two later on, too, but she finished her scenes pretty early in the day and then we didn’t see her again.

While touring the set we ran into and were introduced to Niall Mac Eachmharcaigh, who plays John Joe, and in the green room we met Pól Penrose (Colm). We saw them both here and there throughout the day, especially in the green room, and I enjoyed talking to both of them—I didn’t get to chat with Pól as much, but I talked to Niall quite a bit. They’re both very nice guys. I should stop saying that because it’s going to get repetitive, but everyone genuinely was really nice! Stupidly, I didn’t manage to get photos taken with either of them. I was bad about picture-taking because there was so much going on and I was a bit overwhelmed by it all.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Don't Stop Movin'

Season 22, Episode 42
First aired 25 January 2018

We open above the pub, where Frances interrupts Tadhg’s morning cup of kerosene by strolling in with all her luggage, looking him straight in the eye, and informing him that she and Áine are moving back in. He replies that Áine is welcome, but Frances isn’t, which she completely ignores and continues that she’ll also be working shifts in the pub again, and in conclusion, if he doesn’t like it he can suck it. Finally, the Frances we’ve all been waiting for has arrived with fire in her eyes, and it’s a beautiful sight. Tadhg better fasten his seatbelt and put on his adult diapers, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Pádraig is skittering around the house fussily trying to make sure everything is just right for Sam’s arrival. He’s even dressed up for the occasion, since that of course is something children care about. He complains that the blanket Gráinne has found for Sam’s bed has flowers on it and is therefore unacceptable, and she hilariously replies that if she’d known when she bought it that he had a secret nine-year-old son who would someday be coming to live with them, she would’ve gotten something else. Heh. He apologizes and says he just wants everything to be perfect for Sam, and she assures him it will be, unless the 50 percent of Sam’s DNA that is Sonia decides to emerge today, in which case may God have mercy on all our souls.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

In These Shoes?

Season 22, Episode 41
First aired 23 January 2018

We open with Mo out jogging, but today she’s in the middle of town rather than out in the remote Sahara Desert like sometimes. She seems to be struggling, stopping to lean against a wall and catch her breath, and just then Caitríona materializes to talk to her about cosmetics, which is of course what everyone wants when they’re already feeling bad. It seems a wedding “make-up trial” has been scheduled for later today, which will consist of Caitríona beating Mo and Gráinne with a powder puff and then chasing them around the room with mascara and probably some kind of grooming device that gets extremely hot. Mo replies that she is able to find the parts of her face without any help, but Caitríona responds with what we in the American South call a “bless your heart” attitude. Example: “Poor Doris actually thought that Dorito-and-ketchup ‘lasagna’ she brought to the church picnic was good, bless her heart!” “Well, she hasn’t been the same since she fell off that waterslide on her trip to Orlando, Florida, bless her heart.” Anyway, after Caitríona informs Mo that for the sake of the photos and of humanity she and Gráinne better let her handle their makeup, bless their hearts, she leaves and Frances wanders up and says an assortment of pitiful things to express how sad she is. Mo replies that jogging is nature’s wedding party or something, which seems a bit odd as a response to the thing Frances actually said, but is here to remind us that running has become very important to our Mo and it would be very sad and symbolic indeed if something were to happen that forced her to quit.

In their kitchen, David and Gráinne are theoretically writing their vows, which mostly consists of Gráinne clicking her ballpoint pen 1,000 times per minute. Of course this would be intensely annoying to anyone with a head, but it’s especially irksome to Pádraig, who we shall say charitably is wound very tightly at the moment, presumably due to economic uncertainty both at home and abroad as well as the fact that Sonia is being a complete horror about Sam, even from her coma. He’s ironing nearby, and as David and Gráinne chatter inanely and the clicking reaches a fever pitch, we all go on a multimedia LSD trip with him in which time and sound telescope into a quantum singularity centered on the fecking pen. He snaps at her to knock it off, and everyone looks shocked despite the fact that it’s frankly a rather muted response to one of the most irritating things in the world. My opinion may be shaped by the fact that I live in a country in which the normal reaction to someone snapping their chewing gum is to drive your car into his or her face. Gráinne flees to the bedroom, David glares at Pádraig, and Pádraig looks like he regrets ever being assembled from a heap of carbon and, err, whatever other molecules people are made of. I want to say zinc.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

My Day in Ros na Rún, Part 1

You probably think the life of a TV recapper is all brushing your teeth with caviar and twerking on yachts in Dubai with Jay-Z and Dame Maggie Smith. And you are exactly right. But recently I took a break from my go-go Celebrity Recapper lifestyle and spent the day in lovely An Spidéal, just outside Galway, visiting the set/studio/world of Ros na Rún, meeting the cast and crew, and even being an extra in a couple of scenes! It was an absolutely incredible day, a joy from beginning to end, and something I’ll never forget. What’s it like hanging out in Ros na Rún, seeing the secrets behind the magic, and spending the day with the people who bring the show to life? Let’s find out together!

A little background: I was invited to visit Ros na Rún by two of the stars of the show who’ve become social-media friends of mine over the years, Marie Bheag Breathnach (Mo) and Annamaria Nic Dhonnacha (Bobbi-Lee). Marie actually invited me to visit back in December 2016 when my husband Mark and I were in Dublin for a few days, but we couldn’t make it work logistically on that trip (we were about to leave for London), so we planned a European adventure in December 2017 that was scheduled around a visit to Spiddal. We spent a few days in Dublin, then took the bus out to Galway for a few days, and while we were there, we day-tripped down the coast to Spiddal on the Monday, having arranged the details with Marie and Annamaria, who had kindly offered to pick us up at the bus stop and had planned a big day for us. (It will be a recurring theme in this report that they are absolute joys—two of the kindest, funniest, loveliest people I’ve ever met.)

Monday, January 22, 2018

Past Imperfect, Future Conditional

Season 22, Episode 40
First aired 18 January 2018

We open at the hospital, where Pádraig is sitting at Sonia’s bedside looking worried. She has a lot of pipes and tubes coming out of her and looks like a swimming-pool filtration unit, which is TV shorthand for “car crash.” Someone named Helen arrives and seems to be Sonia’s friend, sister, or mother, and she looks stricken, and Pádraig tells her that the doctors have put Sonia in a coma “to give her a better chance to breathe.” I imagine that many people who meet Sonia want to put her in a coma, although not necessarily to help her breathe. The strange thing here is that Helen seems pleasant and reasonable, so we have no idea why she has anything to do with Sonia. The doctor explains that they’ll have to keep her on a ventilator for several weeks, and then Helen rather stupidly asks, “She’s not in any danger, is she?” No, being in a coma on a ventilator for a month is just routine. Helen says it’s a shame that it took a tragedy (?) like this to bring them back together after all these years, and then Pádraig says this is all his fault because Sonia was too busy arguing with him on her mobile to avoid crashing into the side of that Pizza Hut or whatever. Fortunately Helen immediately assures him that it’s not his fault and that he can’t blame himself, once again calling into doubt the idea that she is affiliated with Sonia in any way, and then sighs that it could have been a lot worse, in that Sonia could be twins. That last part is implied.

At the café, Berni is complaining to Briain about what a dump the place he’s living in is, and we get the impression this has probably been going on nonstop since the last time we saw them two weeks ago. They keep calling it a “chalet,” which makes it sound like a ski lodge on top of an Alp. He argues that it’s not so bad, and in fact he’s organizing the spiders into a youth soccer league, but she responds by griping some more about how he deserves a decent place to live, such as the place she kicked him out of, or the other place he was in that she also didn’t like. Evan comes and goes to say things about soccer, and Berni and Briain wink at each other behind his back and turn them all into double entendres. Well, they’re really more like an entendre and a half. Finally Briain says they’ll make a love nest out of the chalet yet, and she snoots that it’s going to take some big changes to turn that place into a love nest. My first step might be getting rid of her.

Colm is thundering around the house in a panic because he’s late for his radio show and can’t find his notes, the goldfish ran away, and his car is on fire. Mo seems unconcerned about this, mostly because she had forgotten that he has a radio show, and also helpfully points out that if he weren’t hung over from last night, he wouldn’t need notes. Love means never having to pretend to care about your partner’s radio show.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Panic at the Disco

Season 22, Episode 39
First aired 16 January 2018

We open in Mo and Colm’s living room, where Postman David has let himself in to deliver a stack of bills. He’s not allowed to operate the mail slot yet because he hasn’t completed the mandatory EU safety training introduced after all those Maltese postmen kept getting their heads stuck. He’s gloomy, even by his standards, but is still bravely making an effort to stand around and talk all day, because when he took the job he made a solemn vow to never do any work, ever. Eventually he leaves, and Colm points out that Mo’s being sulky and bad-tempered too, but she says she has no idea what he’s talking about and then orders him to get the hell out.

At their place, Réailtín is kissing up to Micheál by making his lunch, and he actually tells her that a chicken sandwich is nice, but what would be even nicer would be her going outside and washing his car. I swear I am not making this up. She agrees to do it, which demonstrates how badly she wants to go to this school disco and also how dumb kids are. Speaking of the disco, which I thought we’d settled last episode, she brings it up again, but he says he hasn’t made his mind up yet and then sends her off to school. She looks exasperated and whines a bit, and then Laoise signals for her to scram so she can have a word with Micheál. And that word is: “WTF?” He bangs on for a while about how when he was a child he had to get up every morning at 3 a.m. to milk the brontosauri, but Laoise counters that all their brontosauri are male, so he needs to stop expecting Réailtín to be as dreary and miserable as he was. Eventually he admits that he’s already decided she can go, so all this torture he’s putting her through is really for his own entertainment. OK, that makes me like him a little more.

Over at the pub, Bobbi-Lee is buzzing around Mo and annoying her about being pregnant, which she refuses to either confirm or deny. This doesn’t slow our favorite cowgirl down one bit, and she asks if “it” happened while she and Colm were off on that sad holiday to Craggy Island, or maybe up against the side of the Man of Aran Fudge stand at the Galway Christmas market. Mo finally lies that the pregnancy test was negative, and then heads off to a mysterious appointment, so Bobbi-Lee reminds her to be back in time for the skivvy interviews she’s arranged for later. She leaves, and John Joe muses that it will be nice to see someone young and, you know, slutty behind the bar, but Bobbi-Lee coolly reminds him that she’s hiring someone to muck out the toilets, not give lap dances. Besides, she adds, she’s already more eye candy than he can handle, and he replies that she’s one of a kind, all right. Hee.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Scream If You Want to Get Married

Season 22, Episode 38
First aired 11 January 2018

David begins what may be the last day of the rest of his life half-heartedly dropping letters through random mail slots. You can tell he’s distracted because he’s only stomping on the parcels marked “fragile” with one foot today. You know, all of this could’ve been avoided if he’d planned more carefully and made sure Annette was the one who got shot in the polytunnel last season.

At home, Pádraig is frantically leaving voicemails for Sonia for some reason, having forgotten that it’s better to ignore raving lunatics until they go away than to engage with them. He hangs up, and Gráinne starts banging on about centerpieces for the wedding, asking him whether he prefers the pink and white fairies or the white and pink gnomes, and he pretends to be interested for as long as he can, which today is 1.5 seconds, before biting her head off and telling her no one cares before storming out, hopefully to initiate Operation: Push Sonia Off A Cliff. Gráinne is so deep into Wedding World at this point that neither light nor sound nor hope can escape from her gravitational field, so she rings up the Makes Downton Abbey Look Crap Inn and brightly tells them that she and David have narrowed down their processional music to either “Blurred Lines” performed by a string quartet of elves or “Under the Sea” played on a xylophone made of seahorses. Things take a turn towards the fatal, however, when the person on the other end informs her that because David didn’t pay the deposit yesterday, they’ve given the venue to someone else and are also on their way over in their Deposit Enforcement Van to burn Gráinne’s house down. She hangs up, and by the look on her face it seems she is wondering if the Buddhist doctrine of nonviolence precludes her from running over David repeatedly with his own mail truck.

Frances is putting Áine’s hair into a ponytail, although it looks a awful lot like she just wants an excuse to pull someone’s hair, and reports to Dee that they should be out of the way in a day or two. Dee tells her she’s welcome to stay as long as she needs to, by which she means the locksmith is coming over to change the locks tomorrow at 8 a.m., but Frances thanks her and bravely says she has to learn to stand on her own two feet sooner or later, preferably on Tadhg’s windpipe. However, noted attorney Dee advises her that it may not look so good in the divorce proceedings that Frances vacated the pub so readily, citing the legal doctrines of “possession is nine-tenths of the law” and also “Áine, barricade the doors while I shoot at your father from this window.”

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Wicked Witch of the West of Ireland

Season 22, Episode 37
First aired 9 January 2018

We open with Tadhg sitting alone in the empty pub looking pensive and unsettled, so it seems Happy Tadhg, who on the box was depicted whistling in unison with the bluebirds perched on his shoulder, has been backordered, and we are unable to provide a delivery estimate at this time. Maggie, on the other hand, bounces in through the unlocked door in her jaunty scarf and hopefully faux fur coat, smiling brightly and clearly thinking she’s rull cute. He seems surprised and nervous to see her in a way he hasn’t been previously, so perhaps the sexing-up didn’t go as planned? She’s here to deliver his phone, which she located under the bed, and when she purrs that it was nice to “finally be able to spend that time together,” i.e., DO IT, he semi-agrees in a vague way that involves making no eye contact with her whatsoever. She asks him if he regrets his decision and he pants Níl with the lack of enthusiasm of someone who’s just tried a new detergent and found it cleans OK, but is scary because sometimes when you open it, a ghost flies out.

Outside, Postman David is on the phone arguing with Annette about when she’s going to pay him back the money she indirectly stole, and eventually she hangs up on him or her phone gets repossessed or something. Meanwhile, Gráinne bops out of Loinnir and hands him a giant stack of wedding invitations she wants him to deliver while he’s out on his rounds. Somehow I suspect An Post would frown upon a postman delivering a bunch of personal mail with no stamps on it that has not gone through the system, especially while he’s on the clock, but David seems more concerned about how this relates to the missing money and makes up an imaginary rule about not being allowed to deliver things while he’s working. I’m sure there are a number of actual rules prohibiting this exact thing, but of course he doesn’t know any of them because he has never spent more than five consecutive minutes working. Her attitude is basically that she doesn’t want to get bogged down in the intricacies of his job, such as committing fraud and getting fired, so she orders him to deliver the invitations and also reminds him that the deposit on the Makes Downton Abbey Look Crap Inn is due today, which gives him instant diarrhea since there are no imaginary postal rules he can hide behind here.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Stuck Together and Torn Apart

Season 22, Episode 36
First aired 4 January 2018

“There’s got to be a morning after,” sings Maureen McGovern in that Oscar-winning song from The Poseidon Adventure, “Flashdance…What A Feeling.” Those words have never been truer than today, and our morning after begins with Tadhg upstairs in the pub pulling down two mugs from the cabinet, then remembering that it’ll be coffee for one today. At Mack and Dee’s, meanwhile, Frances puts the kettle on and starts searching the cabinets for cups, but is doomed to failure because Mack drinks his coffee straight out of the pot and Dee drinks hers only out of champagne flutes. The third part of our trio, an unnervingly upbeat Maggie, finishes packing three small suitcases in the middle of the living room, as one does, and then dusts her hands off brightly, as if to say, “Well, my work here is done! Back to Amerikay!”

Across town, Vince is beginning a long day of comedy hijinks by reading the warning label on the industrial-strength SoopaDoopaGlue he’s going to use to put together some bookshelves. I generally don’t think of glue as the primary method of holding a bookcase together, but I might feel differently if I were building very heavy furniture for Caitríona and Maeve to stand under. Speaking of Maeve, she’s in the same Ralph Wiggum mode that recently landed her in 18th place in a science fair with 12 entrants, first holding the bottle of glue up to the side of her face and listening intently to it as if it’s a telephone, then taking the top off and sticking her eyeball in it. Just as she’s about to spray glue in her face, Vince grabs it away from her and scolds that military-grade glue is very dangerous and should therefore only be sprayed in your face under the supervision of a parent or guardian. She’s annoyed and whines that she was “only looking at it,” which of course with children is the first step in a two-step process that ends with “only eating it,” but Caitríona is, as always, only interested in herself. She announces that she’s off to Galway for the day, or as it’s being renamed in her honor, Caitrionaway, and she coos in Maeve’s general direction that she should be good and stay out of Vince’s way, but Maeve is too busy shooting daggers at Vince to pay attention. Well, it’s been nice knowing you, Vince.

Back at Dee and Mack’s, she’s fuming because he offered to let Frances and Áine stay there without asking her, as if he was going to say yes to Frances but tell Áine to leg it. Dee’s really phoning the argument in here, half-heartedly saying something about needing quiet to study for her geography exam, and you can tell it’s because at this point these two feel compelled to disagree about everything on principle, because it’s kind of their thing. They start hypothesizing about what Tadhg might’ve done, but before Mack can suggest “slept with Katy, probably,” Frances wanders in, smiling bravely but with no more than 20 percent of her hair pointing in any one direction. Mack offers to make breakfast, and Dee runs her “Sympathy” program, but Frances is mostly operating in a parallel dimension at the moment and kind of evaporates from the room soundlessly.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Heartbreak Town

Season 22, Episode 35
First aired 2 January 2018

Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh, everybody! It’s the first episode of the new year, and large chunks of it are almost unbearably heartbreaking, so I’m going to have to keep the snark confined to the parts that don’t make me want to go rock back and forth on the floor in the fetal position while sucking my thumb. Ar aghaidh linn!

It seems to be morning, as the stools are still on tables in the pub and Cóilí Jackie hasn’t pooed in the paper towel dispenser just for craic yet. Frances is leaving Tadhg what we expect is the latest in a string of “Where the hell are you?” voicemails, and she hangs up just as Bobbi-Lee arrives for a day of, err, work. With her is Mo, who is back from her holiday on Craggy Island, and Frances greets them both awkwardly as Bobbi-Lee starts filling Mo in on all the latest gossip, most of which we suspect involves Ambiguously Gay Social Experimenter Briain. If he had just slept like Pádraig when he arrived like he was supposed to, none of this would’ve ever happened.

In the shop, Vince is walking around pretending to count things on the top shelves when Gráinne pops in to kiss his ass a lot in hopes that he’ll do some free photography of the big charity check handover tonight. Considering he somehow got deeply involved in this charity thing over a week ago, you’d think this would’ve come up before just now, but apparently not. He half-heartedly agrees, because his only other options are to continue counting tins of spaghetti hoops over and over for no reason or to go home and spend the evening with Caitríona, neither of which is all that appealing to anyone with, you know, a head. Meanwhile, Annette seems to be having diarrhea over at the till for reasons we’re sure have nothing to do with the fact that she and her husband stole half the charity money and hoped nobody would notice. She quickly rings Seán and hisses into the phone that they need to replace the money today, and of course then has to explain to him that “next week” and “today” are not the same thing, and then hangs up on him before he can pull out a lunar calendar he found on a placemat at a Chinese restaurant and try to argue that today is not actually happening until a week from Thursday.

Monday, January 1, 2018

I Don't Want Your Money, Honey, I Want Your Love. Also Your Money

Season 22, Episode 34
First aired 28 December 2017

It’s the last episode of 2017, and there are several big messes going on! We open in the pub, where Tadhg is trying to reach Maggie by phone, whispering that he knows she’s angry with him but that he really wants to talk to her. We cut to her place, where she’s sitting at the table looking sad and fiddling with the infamous ring. I’m sure there’s a Lord of the Rings joke here somewhere, but I’ve never seen it and hate it on principle, so I’m not going to go looking for it. She glances at her phone as yet another ignored call from Tadhg pings in, and it would really save her a lot of time and annoyance if Áine would just steal her phone and sell it, as she’s been known to do.

We have a five-second shot of Annette in the shop looking poor and desperate, and then we return to the pub, where Áine is arguing with her parents about whether she can stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year, which she’s also trying to parlay into a later bedtime for the entire year. She could also just argue on behalf of New Year’s Eve and then cite legal precedent, and it would be tangled up in the court system for at least a year. The conversation turns to new year’s resolutions, and Frances TOTALLY non-passive aggressively proclaims that in 2018 she wants to focus on her family, which she carefully spells out includes only her, Tadhg, and Áine. Her secondary resolution is to tie Maggie to a rocket and launch her into the sun, but she can’t start on that project until next week because all the shops are closed.