Over the Christmas holidays I realized that MHZ Networks – somebody’s brilliant brainchild to provide international TV content, including some great European police procedurals, to people in the US – were offering a selection of four programs from Ireland: TV3’s Midday, Late Lunch Live, Tonight with Vincent Browne and RTE Six One News on Mondays through Fridays.
In spite of whatever spotty access there is to Irish television online (it seems to me the problem is always either they’re not the shows I want to see, or US viewing of the content is not permitted), I still enjoy being able to watch it on an actual TV screen, not my laptop, tablet or phone, so this discovery was very welcome news.
First, I love being able to see the same day’s news from Ireland when I get home from work and I’m making dinner. MHZ broadcasts the RTE six o’clock news at 6:00pm (EST). In 22 minutes, I’m up-to-date on the biggest news stories, which, sadly, are mostly about inept businessmen and politicians, problems with the healthcare system or elderly people being murdered in their homes. (Hey, minus that last one, it’s just like US news!)
I’ve caught Midday several times when I was over in Dublin last year, and I enjoyed the mix of women guests joining host Elaine Crowley on the panel, especially Fiona Looney, Barbara Scully, Dil Wikremasinghe, and I enjoy hearing what the five women on any day’s show have to say about current trends and whatever’s in the news – even if they’re discussing the high cost of First Holy Communion dresses or if life really begins at 45 – it allows some glimpse into what’s on people’s minds back in Ireland right now.
Late Lunch Live I’m a little less enthu about, but I do check every day to see who the guests are, and there have been some interesting and funny people on the show over the last few months (Mario Rosenstock, Olwyn Boyle, Janet Moran, Colm O’Regan). For me, the value comes from the actors and other performers, and the fact that there’s usually no more than two guests on the sofa per episode, so there’s a decent amount of time for whomever it is to talk about his/her latest project. One thing I do wish they’d stop is the quizzes or games they do with the guests occasionally (“How well do you know….?” and so on.) I don’t mean to sound humorless, but to me, they’re just silly. I’d rather hear more from the guests about their work and lives, than see how much trivia they remember from their first movies or TV shows.
Next on the afternoon block of Irish programming is Tonight with Vincent Browne. Many of the shows deal with political issues and sometimes I’ll give an episode a pass, but at other times, for example, a recent discussion about the history of RTE TV or the death and the legacy of the institutional abuse campaigner Christine Buckley, then I’ll stay to hear what the panel have to say.
According to the press release from MHZ last year, this is what the Today’s Ireland TV initiative is supposed to include:
Content from Irish broadcasters RTE, TV3 and TG4 anchors the programming block, which is augmented with independent productions from Northern Ireland, and regional specialty programming capturing unique cultural events.
Cultural and travel vignettes, short-form content, magazine and talk shows, music performance, dance, sports and more will join news programs in the schedule. Irish Cinema will be a weekly feature, with highly-acclaimed feature films provided by the Irish Film Board (IFB) and Northern Ireland Screen (NIS).
And here’s hoping I’ll still get MHZ when I leave Directv for FIOS…