TV Viewpoint: The InBetween and Christmas on the Square

‘Tis the season for supernatural surprises, in The InBetween and Christmas on the Square

YOU’VE probably been in the position before when whatever you’ve been watching on TV has finished but you’re not ready to switch off the box to turn in just yet. You’re tired, yes, but know that if you go to bed you’ll just be tossing and turning, so you decide to aimlessly flick through the channels to see if something catches your eye.

It will often go that you’ll catch some programme that’s just about to start, and even though you’d usually have no interest in it you keep watching. It’s exactly how you might stumble across a TV show like The InBetween, a silly supernatural crime drama that began with its pilot episode on RTE Two last Wednesday, at the apt graveyard slot of 11.20pm.

It begins with a pouty blonde woman strolling the alcohol aisles of a supermarket. The standard piped music of the grocery store strangely transitions to a blues tune, and the blonde blinks and finds herself on a beach. Seemingly used to this type of transportation, she makes her way over to a shack by the shore.

In the shack is a freezing little boy, and a cadaver on a table. The body suddenly opens its eyes and with a gasp Blondie is back in the supermarket and making a mad grasp for the nearest liquor bottle.

Cut to groggily waking up the next day, having passed out on the couch. After being admonished by a little girl in PJs, she contacts a handsome British man sporting a fedora to tell him about her vision. He’s a detective, working the case of a missing woman, and they’ve clearly worked together before.

Off they go solving the case, and with the help of the medium, they do. The judgemental little girl in pyjamas is (spoiler alert!) a ghost, and so too is the murderer who visits the psychic at the end of the episode.

The pilot is a set up for the rest of the series; why did the fedora detective’s new partner requested this transfer from a more prestigious position, what is the extent of the supernatural abilities, who is the malevolent new ghost and what does he want?

As schlocky shows like this go, it is trying its best not to be too predictable. The murder mystery is quite well constructed, with a pretty good twist, and enough breadcrumbs are left behind to entice tuning in to episode two.

But the script is clunky and the acting second-rate at best. The production is self-consciously try-hard; think soapy reaction shots and homes and work places far too slick for average Seattle police officers. If you’re up late with nothing for doing this Wednesday, give it a go. If not, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over missing it.

Tell me, did you see Dolly Parton on the Late Late last Friday? She was the much anticipated very special guest for the Country Music Special, and such is her goddess status that she was given a full twenty minutes to chat to Ryan about things even the least devoted fan will already have known about.

Regardless, she was a charming delight, as expected. This is, of course, the woman who wrote both Jolene and I Will Always Love You in the same day, has pledged thousands of books to children all over the world to encourage literacy, and who practically cured Covid!

Apparently, she even saved a little girl’s life while she was working on Christmas on The Square, the Netflix Christmas movie in which she stars. It is a confection completely unashamed of its earnestness; its sugary sweetness would give you a severe toothache.

Be prepared for very enthusiastic theatrical dance numbers and an awful lot of stagey singing. It’s about a cold-hearted woman who’s selling the town she owns (America is a weird place), and everyone must be out of their homes and business by Christmas Eve.

Dolly comes along in the roll of an angel to help the entrepreneur see the error of her ways and everything works out in the end. It’s so well-intentioned that saying anything negative about it seems terribly mean spirited, so let’s just say you have to be in a very specific mood and headspace to watch it.

Still as Dolly herself has said “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain”. If the rain is an hour and a half of saccharine Christmas goodwill, then we can only guess what delights may be at the end of the rainbow.

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