The Savage Eye returned to RTE2 for a fourth series on Monday night. I’ve often found it vulgar, rather mean spirited and off-puttingly rage-fueled and have switched over in search of something a bit cosier, like a nice murder mystery or psychological drama. Having this time watched it in its entirety, however, I realised, admittedly four seasons late, that that’s exactly the point. It’s called The Savage Eye after all, and true to its name staunchly refuses to hold back its vitriol.
It’s a troll show, designed to wind up those who lean on the conservative side of the wall and draw knuckle-cracking delight from the types who revel in leaving comments on website boards under provocatively chosen aliases. The fence-sitters who fall proudly in the middle and the wearily despondent lot who have given up even on satire may actually get a laugh or two from the pops at ingrained Irish culture – the first episode was a 70s style type of mockumentary entitled “Why is it better in Ireland to be a foetus than a baby?” and features a nightmarish version of Liveline in which the Dublin-accented host is a creepy, grizzled old provocateur, goading a caller proud of his wife for breast-feeding into imagining all the terrible repercussions of doing it in public.
Poor Hector Ó hEochagáin, hyper, cheerful and ultimately ripe for the taking is parodied with genuine skill by David McSavage, who carries the show with his talent for mimicry, no-holds-barred mockery and utter shamelessness. ‘Hector’ is visiting his old imaginary friend who is desperate to be un-imagined, a frankly terrifying parody of sex-selling pop singers out to corrupt our nation’s youth is gleefully rendered and a Garda attempting to instruct his incompetent subordinates in how to assist in an emergency delivery is uncomfortably familiar. His Pat Kenny is the weakest of the bunch, but McSavage, for all his boundary pushing must be admired for his tenacity.
A problem I find with it The Savage Eye however is that everyone is satirical fodder, there doesn’t seem to be a political or even social agenda – anything and everything is ripe for the taking. It’s basically proclaiming the eejitry of the Irish, in every walk of life, leaving us with no redeeming qualities at all. It’s not an affectionate look at our failings, rather a soapbox jeering at all which is intrinsically wrong with us. And instead of uniting in a collective effort to change our ways it only serves to pit one group of eejits against the other.
– Aoife B. Burke
First Published in The Tuam Herald on 08.05.14