If you missed season one of Sky’s wonderful Moone Boy, shame on you! Born from a series of shorts broadcast one Christmas on Sky, international superstar Chris O’Dowd’s take on a fictionalised version of his childhood in western Ireland is at once nostalgic, warm, surreal and very, very funny. It’s quite unlike anything around at the moment – this week’s return featured jokes about the World Cup, Talking Heads, Back to The Future and the Irish language.
Martin Moone has caught World Cup fever during the Republic of Ireland’s first foray into the finals in Italia 90, accompanied by his imaginary friend Sean. It’s a story of great resonance for myself. Italia 90 was my first major football tournament. It probably ruined my sporting expectations for life with England and Ireland both experiencing a level of success neither has ever been able to replicate. Every player seemed like a superhero.
The show’s return focuses on Ireland’s 2nd round game against Romania, one I remember running home from school to watch as my mum had recorded it. I didn’t know yet that such a thing as a penalty shoot out could even take place. The events of that match have subsequently become as famous for their depictions in film as much as their sporting impact – notably of course in the film version of The Van.
It’s a testament to the strength of Moone Boy’s writing that would could be hackneyed and clichéd comes through as funny and fresh. Martin’s father’s conversion from sceptic to full blown bandwagoner just in time for no one to care any more is a neat touch, as is Martin surreally ending up watching the game with a Romanian family, having mistaken their flag for the Roscommon colours (he’s desperate to watch the game at home).
The show is once again stolen by Martin’s friend Padraig, surely one of the best comic creations of the last few years. His slow dressing into Marty McFly’s out fit from Back to the Future 2 left me absolutely breathless with laughter.
It’s a show that’s bathed in nostalgia, but is never limited by it. It’s only a shame that due to it being on Sky it doesn’t the wide scale love it really deserves. Get involved.
*As an aside, the sign “Oo ah Paul McGrath” reminded me that my partner told me when Nelson Mandela visited Ireland, the crowd sang “Oo ah Paul McGrath’s da”.