Brandywell’s Got Talent

It’s been one week since the opening episode of ‘Derry Girls’ third and final series and it seems a hell of a lot has happened.
Lisa McGee’s wisecrack about Catholic under-representation in the RUC sparked a lively debate on this forum after our review – proving yet again that the past is not quite another country when it comes to this part of the world.
Photos surfaced of Liam Neeson posing and pouting with two of the show’s stars – Saoirse Monica Jackson and Jamie Lee O’Donnell – after it emerged it was his former girlfriend Helen Mirren who switched him onto the show.
Jamie Lee O’Donnell hit the headlines after she had a rather frosty interview on Friday night with Ryan Tubridy on RTE’s ‘The Late Late Show’ during which he rather gauchely asked her about her age.
Siobhan McSweeney, aka Sister George Michael, popped up on Virgin Media One last night in a new six part murder mystery ‘Redemption’ with Belfast actress Paula Malcolmson and Moe Dunford.
Channel 4 and Hat Trick announced a pilot for a sitcom about loyalist youths in East Belfast called ‘William of Orangedale,’  from the pens of William Thompson and Dave Elliott.
It will air as part of All 4’s ‘Comedy Blaps’ strand.
Here’s hoping the duo hit comedy gold when the pilot surfaces on May 6.
It’s fair to say, though, that Episode One of ‘Derry Girls’ certainly got a lot of people talking – especially here on Slugger, regardless of whether you love or loathe the show.

Before we begin to dissect tonight’s episode though, it’s worth noting that some you have requested a spoiler alert in these reviews.

So for those of you of a sensitive disposition who don’t want to know about some of the things that happened in tonight’s episode, please look away now and maybe you can return to the review after you’ve watched it?
As for the rest of you, you should all know the score by now.
You’ll get a flavour of what happened in tonight’s episode but not every detail.
So, let’s crack on.
This week’s episode began in the Quinns’ kitchen with a cacophony of grumbling.
Sarah was badgering Mary about beauty vouchers.
The boiler packed in with Mary and Granda getting hysterical as they called for Gerry.
Erin was getting agitated about a lost fountain pen, while Orla was getting emotional about pop tarts.
Suddenly Mary exploded, telling everyone that she was “sick of being responsible for everything in this house.”
Announcing she was going to give herself some ‘me time’ and that they were on their own, she headed upstairs to have a hot bath until she was reminded by Gerry that the boiler was on the blink.

Meanwhile in Our Lady of Immaculate College, everyone was ‘Children in Need’ mad.

Jenny Joyce and her friend Aisling were engaged in a 24 hour danceathon, with Michelle “observing they were off their t**ts on lemon sherbert”.
Claire had decided to raise money by not talking for 24 hours, while Orla insisted she was not breathing for Children in Need.
When Erin announced she intended to read her work to sick children, Michelle countered: “Haven’t those kids suffered enough?”
At assembly, Sister Michael cut short Jenny Joyce and Aisling’s dance routine, insisting: “We will not forget that performance in a hurry, no matter how hard we try..”
She then sighed as Father Peter, now sporting a ponytail, jabbered excitedly about a ‘Stars in Their Eyes’ contest whose top prize was the chance to appear on BBC Northern Ireland’s telethon, singing the winning song.
Seduced by the chance of instant fame, Michelle decided to take charge of the gang’s ‘Stars in Their Eyes’ routine.
Back in the Quinns’ kitchen, Sarah was trying to defrost a chicken using a hairdryer while she and Gerry fretted about Mary.
“She keeps banging on about feminism,” Sarah observed, noting she was also talking about joining the Womens Coalition.
At the moment when Mary talked about wanting some excitement and spontaneity in her life, a new plumber arrived Nick Kamen-style in a Levi 501s t-shirt and jeans.
The plumber revealed he was Gabriel from Kildare and Mary and Sarah’s jaws dropped at this angel’s stunning good looks.
They also marveled at his knowledge of classic English literature.
Even Grandpa Joe told him he was “a fine lookin specimen”.
During fraught rehearsals in Erin’s bedroom for the ‘Stars in Their Eyes’ competition, Clare wandered outside and spotted Gabriel in the hall giving Mary what appeared to be his telephone number and urging her to call him when she changed her mind.
Unable to communicate by mime what she has just witnessed, Clare blurted out: “The plumber was trying to get off with Erin’s ma!”.
She immediately regretted breaking her vow of silence, realising that by breaking it she would now have to give back all her sponsorship money.
When Mary announced to the family she was going out for a drink, it raised the girls’ suspicions that she might be having an affair with Gabriel.
They cajoled James, who had just passed his driving test, into taking Gerry’s car to the address Gabriel have given Mary but he drove incredibly slowly across the Craigavon Bridge.
Was Mary, to use Michelle’s words, “getting plumbed by the plumber”?
And would the gang’s suspicions she was having an affair derail their effort to knock the smile off Jenny Joyce’s smug face by winning ‘Stars in their Eyes’?
After last week’s energetic start and its jaw dropping cameo, Episode Two was always going to have a big challenge trying to match what was a strong opener.
While it certainly had a few laugh out loud moments and was clearly meant to be an affectionate tribute to ‘Father Ted’, Episode Two felt just a little too derivative.
The talent show attempted to replicate the priests talent show where Fathers Dougal, Ted and Jack perform  ‘The Three Ages of Elvis‘ in the first series of Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews’ classic sitcom.

The bedroom rehearsal scene was a carbon copy of Ted and Dougal’s songwriting scene in the beloved ‘Father Ted’ Eurosong episode’.

The rivalry with Jenni Joyce at the talent show was reminiscent of Ted’s rivalry in the Song for Ireland contest with Father Dick Byrne.
Hell, even Father Peter was wearing a spangly purple Father Dick Byrne priest’s jacket.
The Derry Girls’ impersonation of the Spice Girls was, however, a laugh out loud, must watch moment.
There was also a nice mickey take of Madonna’s ‘Truth or Dare’ pre-performance routine.
But all of these moments felt like distractions from what was one of the show’s thinnest plots to date.
The Gabriel and Mary storyline felt particularly contrived.
It raised the worrying spectre that in the absence of a strong plot, ‘Derry Girls’ may be sliding into the territory where it relies too heavily on easy parody.
As usual, McGee managed to pull some decent one liners out of her hat.
But this was one episode where that just didn’t feel like it was enough.
Next week the gang heads to Barry’s Amusements.
Can Portrush rekindle the ‘Derry Girls’ magic?
Will they be able to scale the same heights as the Big Dipper?
Here’s hoping.

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