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The Sydney Morning Herald

TV previews

Author: Robin Oliver
Date: 03/06/2002
Words: 495
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: The Guide
Page: 20
True Stories

A Brilliant Madness

ABC, 10pm

UP John Nash, Princeton mathematician, proclaimed genius, madman, Nobel laureate, originator at 30 of the Game Theory that revolutionised economics by its understanding of the point of equilibrium at which conflict gets resolved, has his own theory on the schizophrenia that shattered his life.

``Madness can be an escape," he says. ``If things are not so good, you may be able to imagine something better." He listened to the voices.

``I thought I was the most important person in the world and people like the Pope would just be enemies who would try to put me down." The Pope was a fixation. Nash insisted that it was his image and not that of Pope John XXIII that appeared on the cover of Life magazine. It had to be so, for 23 was a favourite number.

Unlike his descent into madness, which was sudden, the return to lucidity in 1980 had been slow. Eventually he returned to Princeton, the Nobel prize for Economics followed in 1994.

Nash, the recovered man, is the most important person in this program not for the obvious reason that he is its subject, but because experiencing this gentle man with the smiling, slightly twisted face is in itself a pleasurable experience, despite the extended tittle-tattle of the things he did and said when his hallucinations first took hold.

Those who thought they knew Nash well admired his recovery, attributing it to the success of newly developed anti-psychotic drugs. The truth was that, by his own decision, he stopped taking medication 10 years earlier. He had reached his own point of equilibrium. The voices could be switched off, just like an intrusive radio show.

If you have seen the film A Beautiful Mind or read Sylvia Nasar's book on which it is based, this piece by Randall MacLowry and Mark Samels will appeal, though one hopes not for its prying analysis of Nash's increasingly eccentric behaviour as illness took hold.

If these reconstructed moments are frequently replayed merely to underline simple truths, then that seems unfortunate.

Cold Feet

Seven, 9.30pm

UP Pete and Jo are getting married maybe so the gang comes to Sydney for the event and bumps into all the usual monuments, the bridge, the Opera House, the beach, the wharves and Gary Sweet. Unlike any of the other seemingly compulsory Oz adventures to which British TV panders, this one presents a superior storyline while soaking up the views. Gary Sweet is a nice surprise, well directed by Ciaran Donnelly. So too, Kimberley Joseph.

Old Tom

ABC, 4.30pm

UP One-eyed, flea-ridden, rascally, burping cat falls off rubbish truck and lands in the lap of goodness that is Angela Throgmorton. ABC input with Yoram Goss in these cheeky cartoon stories. A trifle old-fashioned with its constant bounce-back action, but this may prove to be its appeal.

 
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