TV in the time of Covid-19

In yet another addition to this bizarre new world we’ve found ourselves in, one of the regular TV highlights is fast becoming an Taoiseach’s addresses to the nation. I don’t know anyone who didn’t tune in last Friday at 20:30 to find out what was next in store for us; turns out it’s a strict lockdown (in all but name) and we’re all going to have to find ways to entertain ourselves for the next few weeks. Allow me to suggest a few TV options available to you on streaming platforms, regular TV and online.

Tiger King

Film Choice: Vivarium – digitally buy or rent on Google +, Volta, iTunes, Amazon and YouTube

Remember when our chief bone of contention  was not about a pesky disease risking the lives of our nearest and dearest, but rather the housing crisis that crippled renters and potential first-time buyers alike, and drove scores of families into homelessness? Vivarium is a film that addresses these issues through Twilight Zone style satire; directed by Irish filmmaker Lorcan Finnegan from a script co-written with Garret Shanley, the film stars Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots as a young couple who visit a ghost estate with the intention of viewing a house for purchase, but end up getting far more than they bargained for. A stylish fable with very good performances from the two leads, it will definitely divert a few hours.

Guaranteed to Take Your Mind Off Everything Else: Tiger King – Netflix

This seven-part true crime documentary is unlike anything you’ll have ever seen. Even the arbritrary number of episodes is weird. Tiger King follows big cat zoo owner Joe Exotic, whose rivalry with self-styled big cat conservationist Carol Baskin descends into a murder mystery. Actually, make that two. The saga just gets more incredible at every turn; terrible injuries, cult-like gurus, a universal penchant for all-over animal print, a polygamous marriage, home-made country music videos, not to mention the deeply uncomfortable treatment of animals that have no business being in cages or forced to perform for wilfully ignorant visitors. It hasn’t got the sophistication of Making a Murderer or The Jinx, but so unbelievable is every twist and turn that you’ll have no choice but to forget the weird world right on our own doorsteps.

Resources for Parents: RTEJr –

Self-isolating parents are no doubt well ahead of the curve with how to handle their restless kids, but just in case, let me direct you to RTEJr and its wide range of programmes and podcasts, printable activity sheets and more. RTE’s Home School Hub is also, by all accounts, an excellent resource for when the homework assigned by school has been done and dusted but they’re still looking for more challenges. The Home School Hub broadcasts daily from 11am – 12 noon, with three segments designed for 1st and 2nd classes, 3rd and 4th classes and 5th and 6th classes.

Return to Regular Scheduling: Hitler’s Jurassic Park – RTE2, Friday, 20:30

It’s probably a sign of the times that I’m recommending another programme that deals with the more unhinged, delusional and dangerous members of society. And can anyone be more aptly described so as Adolf Hitler? According to this documentary, Nazi scientists devised a plan to somehow recreate extinct animals in order to release them into the Polish wild to hunt. It would probably be apparent today if they succeeded, but it seems that they came close; tune in at 8:30 on RTE2 on Friday to see just how close. Directly following that on the same channel is classic Daniel-Day Lewis movie, In the Name of the Father, which is a safe bet for some stellar performances and intense subject matter. At the same time on RTE1 comes The Late Late Show, which is sure to be another example of coping under pressure.

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