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TV review: Trump: The return?, Nuclear Armageddon: How close are we?, and Finders Keepers

26 January 2024

ITV

Trump: The return? (ITVX, Tuesday of last week) assessed whether the former US President might win a second term in office

Trump: The return? (ITVX, Tuesday of last week) assessed whether the former US President might win a second term in office

NORMALLY, we can wait until Lent before confronting abysses of despair; but recent TV provided stark warnings that (a) if global affairs seem at present horrendous enough, they are about to get worse, and (b) if international developments don’t change decisively very soon, there might be no humankind left to realise what a terminal mess we’re in.

In Trump: The return? (ITVX, Tuesday of last week), the seasoned reporter Robert Moore travelled across the United States, assessing whether “the Donald” might gain a second term of office — with evidence piled upon evidence to suggest that it is very likely indeed. Despite the outrage of academic and political commentators that his words and deeds are a direct assault on the very foundations of American democracy, his popularity grows and grows.

The 91 charges that he faces in four separate trials merely strengthen his narrative that there is a deliberate conspiracy seeking to destroy him: a conspiracy led by the enemies of all true Americans; for real patriots, he is their martyr, rebel champion, even messiah. The Nazi rhetoric of demonising “the other” — liberals, socialists, immigrants — whose destruction will enable a return to an imagined golden age of prosperity and national supremacy seems to be exactly what most citizens long to believe.

Fervent Evangelical Christians embrace this creed, seemingly far happier with hate-fuelled denunciations of evil than Jesus’s gospel of love and forgiveness. Even more alarming than this are the flocks of former Biden supporters transferring their allegiance. The traditionally Democrat black and Latino vote apparently craves conservative moral certainties; and the growing Muslim population is appalled by President Biden’s support for Israel (although Trump’s is even stronger). Religion hereabouts eagerly harnesses its chariot to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Nuclear Armageddon: How close are we? (BBC2, Thursday of last week), however, warned of even more decisive destruction. International scientists monitor the “Doomsday Clock”, assessing — from the proliferation of nuclear weapons, who controls them, and the political scene — just how close the world is getting to total annihilation. In recent years, the threat slightly diminished, but today, with 13,000 weapons in the hands of disturbingly volatile nations and leaders, it is getting terrifyingly near: it has advanced to 90 seconds to midnight.

Channel 5’s new metal-detectorist drama Finders Keepers (Wednesday of last week) finds me doubly disadvantaged: first, I’m a former archaeologist; second, several of my receding brain cells still work. The plot is not remotely believable; the hero veers between nerdish historian and immoral looter; the pristine treasure is just inches beneath the surface; and the fiancée was clearly signalled from his first utterance as a dastardly wrong ’un. A splendid cast is shamefully wasted.

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