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TELEVISION

Well, the bookcase was convincing

by KEITH GOSMAN

In many respects it is a pity that

one of the superpowers did not press the doomsday button a cou ple of dccades ago. At least we would have been spared 'Burn the Butterflies' (ABC, 8.30pm, Sun day).

One imagines that the play left more than one viewer with singed brain cells. Judging by last Sunday's effort you could have been forgiven for

thinking that the holocaust had struck Gore Hill a few weeks ago.

Jingoism is one of the more re pulsive attitudes that a person can possess and I can think of no reason why Australian television products should be judged any differently than foreign products.

'Burn the Butterflies' was bad. And there could be the end of it. Un fortunately it was so serious about being bad. Not one laugh, not one

chuckle. But then I suppose there is no time for mirth when Government Ministers have convenient and dra matic heart attacks while travelling on aeroplanes and Prime Ministers are

assassinated.

What made the play more annoying

than its Calvinistic tone was that it

was about a contemporary issue. Uranium mining. Should we or shouldn't we.

There seems to be a school of thought in some areas of the "arts" that topics such as love, hate, courage, cowardice, etc are distinctly outre. This school is the champion of the contemporary issue. "Let's see some thing that really makes a statement. You know, grapples with questions taunting society".

My feeling is that contemporary issues, if one must use the phrase, should best be dealt with by news and current affairs. They should only be resurrected after they have had a

sufficient rest like wine bottles in the

damp cellar.

For example, I think that the Opium Wars are just about due for a deluge of screen treatments.

Anyway, what we had on Sunday was a Social Action Party Prime Min ister, Mr Joe Delaney, trying to win support for his view on uranium. Ray Barrett as Delaney did a strange sort

of impersonation of a Labor Prime_

Minister and watched a -lot of tele vision.

That was the one virtue of the play. The idea of using the television, within your television, to tell you the back ground of the play. Mind you one got the impression that 'Nation* (read Nationwide) was screened 24 hours a day — revolting prospect. Mind you, Clive Hale might get shamed into buying a presentable jacket — some thing that does not compete with the test pattern.

Delaney managed, in between watching television, to drink a fair bit and do a bit of bullying and bartering which was all fairly tame. Most of the time was spent in the PM's office

which looked as if it had been bor rowed from the set of 'Prisoner'. The

bookcasc was particularly convincing.

The outside broadcast scenes could

have been written by John Cleese. The so-called journalist in his mackintosh squealed that the crowd was aghast and other things, after the PM was shot.

Ray Barrett said some very silly

things about what he, the PM, wanted for Australia and about his past. And . . . Oh, dear me, no more.

The play told me nothing about uranium or politics. And anyway, who

would assassinate an Australian Prime Minister — we would have to pay for the funeral.

» » *

AND speaking of contemporary is sues, Jane Fonda was a guest on 'The Helen Reddy Special' (CTC, 7.30pm, Thursday). Helen Reddy might now be a citizen of the United States but you can still tell where she was born. She might have overcome her natural Australian tendency to speak through the nose but she still sings through her

nose.

The most unpleasant factor about Reddy is not her nasal caterwaulling

but the veneer of feminism which she

sprays liberally in order to enchance

her aura. It is the sort of veneer which could be scratched only with a Cartier

pin.

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