Monday, January 7, 2019

The Show Mustn't Go On

Season 23, Episode 36
First aired 3 January 2019              

We’re back after a couple of months away, most of which involved Adam getting arrested for things he didn’t do, Cóilí Jackie almost shooting David in the crotch, and Dee slowly losing her mind. So, business as usual. We open today, which features the long-awaited return of a familiar stubble-faced hunk from ye olden tymes—I’m talking about myself, of course!—at 3Arena or wherever the panto is taking place, which is a busy hive of activity, and also bees. You might think of Christmas as a distant memory now that all the crackers have been cracked and decades of built-up family hostility have been buried for another year, but here in Ros na Rún the holidays rage on, mostly in the form of Vanessa. She’s carrying a black garbage bag in Berni’s direction, but sadly is here to apologize to her rather than fill it with oranges and bludgeon her with it. She explains that she bit Berni’s head off last episode because she was surprised to find out Niall and Bobbi Lee are a thing, what with her expecting him to be celibate from now on and all. Well, when you leave your DILFy ex-husband on a soap opera full of known floozies, you deserve what you get. Berni accepts her apology, agreeing that this is all pretty messed up, and then reminds her that the important thing is Liam Óg, who is now at the critical developmental age of two or twelve or something.

Onstage, Mack stops stringing fairy lights up a donkey’s arse long enough to tell Niall that he’s really bollixed this situation up. Niall sadly agrees, adding that there’s no way he could’ve predicted a relationship involving Bobbi Lee would be problematic in any way. He realizes he needs to apologize to Vanessa, who’s walking around looking sad everywhere. Another option would be for Vanessa, who broke up with him, to grow up and stop making everything about herself, but maybe that’s just me. Niall goes down to gabh Vanessa’s leithscéal, but is interrupted by Gráinne, who is here to make everyone do her work for her. Caitríona has taught her well. She drags Vanessa off to iron the walls, and Niall looks sad, partly because of this Vanessa situation and partly because he has read the script of the panto that’s coming later.

In town, on-again-off-again frenemies Imelda and Laoise seem to be on for the moment, although Laoise is doing her best to stir up trouble and make everyone around her miserable. She asks how noted patient John Joe is doing, and Imelda has to admit she doesn’t really know since nobody from the hospital will tell her anything and Noreen is guarding the place like it’s the end of a Super Mario Bros. level. It’s OK, the princess is in another castle anyway. Laoise helpfully reminds her that Katy and Dee are a couple of bitches, and when Imelda reasonably replies that she doesn’t want to go someplace where she’s not welcome, Laoise retorts that if it were Micheál down at the hospital set, she’d be down there marking her territory posthaste, no matter how much of a wagon Réailtín is. That last part is implied.

At the community center, Berni, who looks like a hot mess, is toweling herself off from her gangsta rappercise class when…Briain appears! He’s carrying around a clipboard with a picture of a shirtless hunk on it, which at first makes us think that Grindr has gotten really low-tech lately, but we soon realize means he is the new fitness consultant “the Muscle Machine,” which of course we all knew as soon as Frances started talking about said machine last week. Berni chokes on her yoga pants for a while, which is made easier by the fact that he is seriously undressing her with his eyes, but before he can turn the conversation to which wall he is going to do her up against, Frances interrupts. She responds to his businesslike clipboard by holding a Very Important Folder, so they go off to have a meeting, but not before he leers at Berni some more and tells her breasts he’s glad they’ve kept up the exercise. We’re going to have to turn the fire hose on him if he keeps this up.

Back at 3Arena, Vanessa is ironing a trash bag when Gráinne strolls through and casually mentions that Bobbi Lee claims to have written the panto, but they all assume Niall probably did it because it involved, you know, work. Vanessa looks grim, even by her standards, and then Gráinne giggles that it seems Bobbi Lee has awakened Niall’s creative side, and possibly also his muscle machine. She realizes she’s put her foot in it after Vanessa obliterates the universe with her death stare for a while, so she flees, leaving Vanessa there to bite the ironing board in half.

Imelda arrives at the hospital set carrying a stack of John Joe’s favorite magazines, such as Back Injury Illustrated and Opioid Enthusiast. Noreen takes a break from having diarrhea face to be completely rude to her, and while we usually find Imelda pleasantly inoffensive at best, right now we are enraged on her behalf and want her to karate Noreen in the windpipe. Noreen, who perhaps needs to be reminded that she HAS A HUSBAND BACK HOME, no matter how awful he may be, acts territorial and tries to run Imelda off, but she forgets that our fearless superintendent has endured years of ungrateful daughters and David turning himself in twice a week for some stupid thing or another, not to mention the perils of having Laoise as a friend, and therefore will not be scared away so easily. She swats Noreen like a fly and strides confidently past her into the maternity ward or wherever John Joe is being stored, and it’s clear that he’s about to get all the sexy crosswords and sudokus his fragile, thrice-bypassed heart can handle.

Back at the community center, Frances has made Briain do 3000 sit-ups and then lift a file cabinet over his head using only his glutes and is therefore satisfied that he is indeed qualified to teach aerobics to oldies. Unfortunately, however, he now tells her this has all been pointless because there just isn’t time in his busy schedule for him to come out to Ros na Rún and teach Máire and Peatsaí to twerk, what with EastEnders being on 14 times per week now and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 having just come out. Of course there’s nothing Frances enjoys more than someone wasting her time, but before she can grab him by the ear and sling him through the wall, Berni appears. She’s dressed to the nines, or at least the six-and-a-halfs, and is here under the pretense of buying panto tickets for the four to six Dickensian waifs belonging to someone called Ursula, who can’t take them herself because she has to work and is also dead. Briain once again gives her a pap smear with his eyes, and then smirks that it’s very good of her to do something so nice for the kids, so she blushes and says she’s always enjoyed doing things to for age-inappropriate youngsters. They sit down together for a cup of sex-flavored coffee, and it seems Berni has forgotten all about Tony, which doesn’t take much, honestly.

In the lobotomy ward, John Joe and Imelda put down the latest issue of Fun Games For Bedridden Children, having given up on finding the 10th and final thing that is wrong with the picture. (It’s the toaster in the tree.) He tells her it was nice of her to visit him, finally, and she reveals that she would’ve come earlier, but his family of idiots (Mack) and wagons (everyone else) all forgot to tell her he was there. To be fair, Katy can only stop thinking about herself in five-second bursts and Mack has been incommunicado since he dropped his phone in the toilet while trying to smash a spider. John Joe seems momentarily surprised and annoyed at his family’s general terribleness, as if it’s something new, but then changes the subject by saying this would’ve been a very different visit if she’d come last week when he was full of morphine and off his head. She generously responds that she’s accustomed to him being completely incoherent, and it’s a nice moment, at least until Noreen materializes to stick her oar in. She announces smugly that John Joe will be having his dinner soon and therefore Imelda needs to beat it, so the superintendent tells him goodbye and then breezes past Nurse Ratched without a word, even the most appropriate word in this situation, which would be feck. Once she’s gone, John Joe asks Noreen why nobody bothered telling Imelda he was here, and she responds with a bunch of nonsense about how they were all very busy and upset because Dee lost 50 cents in the coffee machine and Mack got his hair caught in a parking meter and so on. We often enjoy Noreen, but not right now.

Rehearsals rage on in panto land, by which I mean Vince has suddenly remembered that they are going onstage in a few hours and so maybe they should rehearse. He interrupts Niall’s 9000th half-hearted attempt to have a word with Vanessa, who is still ironing that same damn shirt, and forces him to practice the big dance number with Bobbi Lee, whose attitude is basically, “They already paid their money, so who cares if we mess up?” There is waltzing, which mostly consists of Niall stepping on Bobbi Lee’s feet and hair a lot, and Vanessa watches sadly in full charwoman mode, which would be a lot more affecting if she hadn’t been a drag in at least 90 percent of the scenes I have ever seen her in. Plus, she was the cult leader in that Fair City story that ended up with Daithí Mac Suibhne holding a baby hostage with a flare gun. (By the way, it is a crime against humanity that Daithí Mac Suibhne is not on every TV show all the time.) Vanessa storms off, Bobbi Lee refuses to rehearse anymore because it’s boring, Vince is exasperated, and Niall looks stricken, which means we just need Cóilí Jackie to show up with a gun and the scene will be complete.

Berni and Briain are still flirting awkwardly at the community center, and he sadly tells her he doesn’t think he’ll be able to Muscle Machine the town right now, but that maybe things will change in the future, such as if she takes off her top. I’m paraphrasing. Then we return to the cemetery behind 3Arena, where a whole lot of nonsense between Vanessa and Niall is getting cranked up. She’s mad because he didn’t ask her permission before he started dating Bobbi Lee and bangs on for 27 minutes about how terrible he is, and it’s sort of a credit to him that he doesn’t walk out in the middle of it. Then again, he lets this seafóid drag on until the panto is halfway over before he decides maybe it’s enough. Oh, also she slaps him for no reason, so we are officially done with her. DONE!

After the break, it’s ninety minutes till show time and Niall is missing, but possibly in a coffin in a burning undertaker’s shed, or in that storage room Áine is always found asleep in when she runs away. Bobbi Lee starts a fight with Caitríona over who’s the prettiest and then they snipe at each other for a while, and it’s questionable whether panto star Bobbi Lee actually knows any of her lines, to no one’s surprise.

Outside, Vanessa tells Niall that she’s off in Australia being alone and sad while he’s gallivanting around her town with her friends like he owns the place and so on. Furthermore, she points out, he’s having happy family time with his son, while meanwhile her daughter is off in Dubai, which is his fault somehow. We realize Vanessa has had a difficult time, but she is working our last nerve with this. Fortunately Niall is a nice guy and doesn’t call her on any of this, but instead speaks in calm, soothing tones of the sort you use while you’re trying to keep the jumper on the ledge until the police arrive.

Back at the community center, Briain tells Frances he has magically rearranged his busy schedule and will now be able to Muscle Machine the town after all, which she declares is íontach, mostly because she is grateful to be speaking to someone other than Tadhg for a change. We quickly return to 3Arena, where people are starting to panic because Niall is nowhere to be found and the show just won’t be the same without someone to play Back Half Of Horse. Bobbi Lee, of course, is mostly concerned with whether she will be reimbursed for all the calls she’s made while trying to track him down, because as we have already established, her credit history qualifies her only for mobiles in which you have to keep inserting coins. Gráinne starts banging helpfully on about how she had bad vibes when she woke up today, and her marimbas weren’t great, either. (The musicians out there are loving that gag, trust me.) We are distracted, though, because in the background we notice the return of that effing Indian costume that was last seen on David at Halloween, and which needs to go in the garbage immediately, because it’s super-offensive and this show should know better. Meanwhile, Briain and Berni are sending each other flirty texts, which we hope will culminate in a jealous Tony arresting Adam and/or shooting David in the season finale.

Outside, Niall ignores a series of texts and calls from Bobbi Lee, Vince, Gráinne, Bono, etc., and probably also some stray dick pics from Briain. Vanessa passive-aggressively tells him he should go in and be with his friends, and that she’ll be fine alone BECAUSE SHE ALWAYS IS. Ir’s amazing he can even hear her from way up on that cross.

Inside, Bobbi Lee is in a panic, peering madly through the curtains like Jack Nicholson in The Shining and fuming that Niall is going to ruin her big night. Wait till she finds out they also spelled her name “Boobi Lee” on the program. Eventually they decide that Vince will have to play Niall’s part because he knows all the lines and was also first runner-up in the Mr Back Half Of Horse 2019 Pageant.

Over at Gaudi, Imelda is trying to have a meaningful conversation with her alleged friend Laoise about how difficult it was to see John Joe all weak and de-hearted in the hospital, but of course Laoise is more interested in calling her an ice queen and being obnoxious for no reason. Well, I did say I wished they’d make up their mind whether Laoise is supposed to be a plucky heroine we root for or a rude super-bitch. Eventually Laoise accidentally stumbles into some semi-good advice, which is 50 percent “follow your heart” and 50 percent “mark your territory.” Sisterhood!

Onstage, we are reminded that Annamaria Nic Dhonnacha has a gorgeous singing voice, even while pretending to mop. Backstage, Vince is halfway into Niall’s cowboy costume as Gráinne hisses at Caitríona to stretch for time with some adlibbing, which is her cue to start insulting Bobbi Lee personally. Just then Niall arrives, so Vince swaps clothes with him and then hilariously shoves him halfway across the stage. We don’t get a ton of physical comedy on this show, but Fred McCloskey and Danny McCafferty are very, very funny here, especially when Niall unhinges his spine and goes flying across the screen. Bobbi Lee is so excited when he arrives that she breaks character by screaming his name and then runs over to him, shoving Caitríona off a table along the way and sending her crashing to the floor. All hell breaks loose at this point, with the evil stepmother shouting at Cinderella that she’ll make sure she never gets played on the local radio station again. Of course this is all very confusing to the audience, partly because they didn’t even know the evil stepmother had a radio station, but also because they have no idea why there is a white dude dressed as an Indian here.

Tony runs into Berni at the community center and excitedly tells her that the Muscle Machine will be coming to Ros na Rún, and he’s looking forward to the intense workout he’ll get from him. Yes, he’s not the only one! They agree to meet for a drink later, and she looks about as enthusiastic as someone who’s…well, someone who’s just made plans to have drinks with Tony later.

Back at 3Arena, the crowd is applauding rapturously because they get to go home soon, and also because it seems Caitríona is seriously injured. Sometimes an audience really does luck out! Everyone takes their bows, and Bobbi Lee and Niall share a romantic hug and kiss as Vanessa looks on sadly. This would be a good time for to Fia to show up pregnant again!

1 comment:

  1. I love this Blog. Thank you. I too started watching Ros na Rún to help with learning Irish Gaelic but I love the programme.

    Your blog has really helped me look up what has happened previously as I have only been able to view from S23 episode 37 onwards.

    Go raibh maith agut!


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