Friday, 3 October 2008

New comedy

So I've made the effort to watch some new comedy. And... er, mixed results.

I'll not judge Beautiful People yet as it's just episode one. Well, I'll make some comments now but hold total judgement off until a few more eps have aired. Good compromise?

I just finished reading the original book last week, and very funny and light it is too, if somewhat unstructured and dashing off all over the shop in time and place. The lightness understandably dims a little when covering Aids but otherwise the word 'perky' comes to mind - smiley, lovely and fluffy, no work of genius (unlike, say, a David Sedaris book)

The main thing that stuck in my mind was Simon Doonan's tale of growing up as a fey, gay, hip-hip-hooray kid in the sixties. It was very evocative of that era, and surprisingly upbeat for this kind of subject matter. Very few beatings, bleatings or suicide attempts for example.

And what have they done with the sitcom of it? Only just gone and scrapped all that, setting it in 1997 and having a young Simon (as opposed to his fiftysomething real self) in glam Noo Yorak, with a floppy haired teen back when Blair was just being elected.

Errr, right. This means they can put in, for example, a black camp friend instead of his white one. And make one of the many odd aunties he had Asian - so far, so PC. And, yes, I know it's to make it more modern/relevant blah blah blah.

But the story simply didn't ring true any more. Who made wine from potatoes in 1997? A daytrip on the bus to Slough was an adventure - really? Maybe in 1967 but not 1997. Gay kids weren't so hidden in the 90s compared to the 60s, true, but what made the book so cool was that there was this obviously, totally, utterly gay kid back in the 60s in a suburban environment, and here is a mainly upbeat and positive story of his life.

When Things Can Only Get Better started up I sighed. I didn't laugh much at anything much, to be frank. But to be positive, it was all very nicely shot and everyone seemed to be having a nice time as they made it.

Anyway, it's early days - it's got a great cast (the two young kids are fantastic, as is Mum), the premise is still interesting and in three series' time no-one will remember the book. Or something.

The next thing I watched was The Wrong Door, BBC Three's CG-heavy sketch show. I've seem them all (I think - BBC Three is very naughty when it comes to labelling repeats as new episodes so my Tivo gets huffy with them and doesn't record things at all sometimes).

I really enjoyed episode one but by this one (episode 5?) I think it's just all got a bit stale. Initally, seeing realistic-looking planes flap their wings was new and exciting, and CG monsters stamping London to bits looking for their keys was different. But seeing them yet again is... well, just not surprising any more. Ditto with a flock of buses migrating - they did it with scooters last week. Yawn. It proves how hard it is to get these repeated sketches right.

It's also weird to see the non-CG sketches - you just wait for something special-effecty to happen and it never does. And some of them just go on far too long. Last week's train pirates is one case (although Brian Blessed hammed away even more than usual, wonderful), and this week had a very poor James-Bond-but-a-clown series that I'd have thought a script editor would've crossed out at the ideas' stage. Oh look, it's 007 - but he's got a big red nose! Hahahah! And M is in a big top. Hohoho! And the gadgets are clown-themed! Heeheehee!

And then two series of sketches (the running ninja academy one and, oddly, last week's train pirate one that didn't feature at all this week) melded with the James Bond clown one in some grand plot amalgamation.

Well, they were setting it up as such when I got bored and skipped to the next show on the Tivo, which was Family Guy. It may have none of the sophistication of The Simpsons and little of the jaw-dropping shock of South Park (their spoof of FG is superb, check it out) but it's still got more gags in it than an enitre series of most British sitcoms.

Next week I promise to watch that superhero sitcom off of ITV2. If I can find where that is - it's not exactly my first call for viewing pleasure, seeming to consist entirely of X Factor spin-offs, that Celebair thing and endless shows with Peter Andre and Jordan in 'em.

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