Monday, August 09, 2010

Can the Hardy Bucks Save the RTÉ Autumn Schedule?

Amongst the soul-destroying dross of the new RTÉ schedule, a gem. The Hardy Bucks are hitting the big time.

This leads to two questions. Firstly, is the Hardy Bucks’ talent sufficient to overcome the often-crippling constraints of the national broadcaster, and secondly, who or what the Hell are the Hardy Bucks?

Let’s look at the second question first. The Hardy Bucks are the heroes of an online series of mockumentaries that form a note-perfect representation of what it’s like to hang around in small town Ireland in the twenty-first century.

It’s superb, a true mirror held up to the reality of modern Irish small town life. The Hardy Bucks – Eddie, Buzz, The Boo, Toashteen and the rest - are lads whose income and intelligence exist in inverse proportion to the dead weight of time on their hands, and they try to kill that time in the way the Irish always have, by dreaming and getting wasted.

It’s essential to understand that the Hardy Bucks never mock the Irish rural experience, no matter how grotesque. The shows have moments of unexpected and breathtaking beauty too, such as when Eddie’s Uncle Mick sings the first verse of a gorgeous song called Horses and Plough, with the wild heather plains of Mayo stretching behind him. It’s wonderful. Wonderful.

The problem is that it’s very difficult to understand how the Hardy Bucks can survive a trip through the RTÉ mill. The Hardy Bucks are the natural successors to D’Unbelievables as the authentic comedic voice of rural Ireland, but Pat Shortt went to RTÉ as an Unbelievable and came out as Killnascully. Killnascully makes both Shortt and RTÉ a serious amount of money but, by any reasonable artistic or creative criteria, Killnascully is bottled slurry. Can the Hardy Bucks keep their integrity?

Sad to say, but An Spailpín seriously doubts it. The Hardy Bucks, being true to where they’re from, swear often and prodigiously. If this swearing is removed the show’s language will lose a huge amount of its power. Will the bucks be able to up the writing to cover the loss? And if they can, why haven’t they done it by now?

The RTÉ Storyland uploads blank out the swearing, suggesting that Storyland haven’t a notion. It reminded your faithful correspondent of seeing the movie New Jack City on TV in the States once, with all the swearing blanked out there too. An Spailpín thought it was a silent picture – a tribute to Buster Keaton, or something.

It’s hard not to wonder whether or not any top brass in RTÉ have even seen The Hardy Bucks. An Spailpín’s dollar is that they haven’t.

The Hardy Bucks are tremendously popular but profoundly underground. Their ascension to a proper TV gig is only mentioned in passing in press coverage of the new schedule, suggesting that of the three and a half million visits to the Hardy Bucks’ You Tube channel - which is PROFOUNDLY unsafe for work - very few of them were from the Dublin media.

This would suggest the RTÉ brass will have a major What-Hath-God-Wrought? moment once they sit through the entire oeuvre and discover just how profoundly politically incorrect the Hardy Bucks are, even apart from the swearing. This will inevitably have the consequence of Mr Maloney and Mr Tordoff getting their bridles tightened big style once they reach Donnybrook, Dublin 4, by irate card-carrying members of the Labour Party, and likewise concerned citizens.

In a just world the national broadcaster would tell them to puck away, and paint Ireland warts and all. In the actual world, An Spailpín fears The Hardy Bucks on RTÉ will be as Elvis home from the army. I do hope I’m wrong though. Best of luck to them.