Monday, 31 December 2012

Kangaroo Court of Love: "Peep Show" 8.6

TX: Channel 4, 24/12/2012

'Friendship is a disinterested commerce between equals; love, an abject intercourse between tyrants and slaves.'
- Oliver Goldsmith, The Good-Natured Man (1768)

To follow that 'Celtic Tiger' of a comedy (Mrs Brown's Boys), we thought we would watch a slightly different sort of sitcom, also broadcast around this Christmas period. If MBB takes a condescending view of its audience's intelligence, then Peep Show probes the absurd human frailties of its protagonists for the amusement of a no doubt smaller audience. There are aspects of Usborne and Corrigan in most of us 'young men'; MBB's figurines are barely human.

David: Anyway, this should be a pleasing antidote to that. 

Tom: Episode 6. Not a bad series so far... 

David: Better than Series 7, anyway. No reason why this can't go on until one of them croaks it. 

Tom: Super Hans is a great character; I would've liked to see a bit more of him in this series really. 

David: "Coaster? Fuck's sake, Jez, I'm not an animal!"

Tom: "There are quite a few snakes in your room". 

David: Has Dobby got a black eye? 

David: "Five-a-side? That's where all the men go to laugh at us". 

Tom: Mark's masculinity issues coming out there... 

David: Further disappointment for Mark. 

David: This ongoing saga relies upon M + J's constant unhappiness. 

David: "Very much the on methadone, living in a halfway house type of woman". 

David: Very reflective of the 'indefinite teenage years' thing that's being imposed on those of us who are unable to achieve the tools needed to 'grow up'. 

Tom: "'Jason's van'. That sounds like the sort of bullshit I'd come up with".   

David: Jeremy is now a 40 year old teenager. 

Tom: "I'll watch her squirm"... an altruistic view of relationships there from Corrigan! Or, a realistic depiction of love with its jealousies and insecurities...

Tom: Mark playing 5-a-side footer... bound to elicit a few chuckles. 

David: "Did you see the game the other night? The big... fixture?" 

David: "Take him out" / "WHAT?!!" 

David: Dobby is quite intimidating here!   

Tom: This show's characters ring true as imperfect people who aren't merely looking to gain laughs from saying "fuck"...  

David: Meanwhile, Mrs Brown's Boys says nothing about society other than that there are masses of people who find a swearing old woman and jokes from 1972 hysterical...  

Tom: "Sure, the massive apple..." 

Tom: This series seems to have a sustained story-line which runs all the way through the six episodes. I don't think many of its previous series' had that. There seem to be fewer 'different' episodes, like the musical festival one or the jury service. Or the Christmas special with Mark's family last year - I really liked that one. And the jury service one with the mentalist woman defendant from Sunderland. Unsure whether it's a good thing or a bad thing that there are fewer excursions or digressions... 

David: [amid the advert break] Why's Kevin Bacon pretending to give a toss about British popular culture?

Tom: Aye, Bacon is a beaming irritant.

David: Series 9 of Peep Show is already commissioned; there seem to be infinite things that they can do with the two hapless ones. 

David: It must be quite cathartic for the writers to put them through whole new trends of misery; there are always twelve more months of cultural references to slip in effortlessly, too.  

Tom: Yes, it is a reliable formula.   

Tom: "Depressing lingerie outlet in Reading"...   

Tom: Ah, the old El Dude brothers routine, ever invoked in times of crisis. I like how have they slipped in subtle references in this eighth series, such as to Super Hans' curious fixation with The Barchester Chronicles - when Jez's stuff is being cleared out.

David: They seem to have an endless supply of embarrassing situations. 

Tom: The thoughts-aloud voice-overs have always been crucial to its success. Just wouldn't work as well without them.    

David: "I'm sorry... what the FUCKING HELL are you talking about?" The key to it is hearing their real thoughts in conjunction with the often manipulative words they say.

Tom: Jez stuck on the train!   

Tom: Speaking his mind finally - rarely a good idea!   
Tom: "How can I do that when there's no such thing as elbow grease!" Great line there from Jez. 

David: 10/10 dialogue - the situations often seem less important than the dialogue. 

Tom: "An honourable man" again! Reference back to his flat housing committee election campaign. 

David: "THAT'S your punishment of last recourse: FREE TRAVEL?!" So inappropriately pompous. 

David: It's been fun watching Mark being relegated to a series of humbling jobs.

Tom: Yes, and in episode 6.1 (TX: 18/09/2009) you had a rare instance of British television responding to the economic crisis, when JLB go bust. 

Tom: It's also been good to have the vocation of life-coaching relentlessly mocked in this series.  

Tom: "This kangaroo court of love". 

David: Editing process must be horrendous.   

Tom: Mark inevitably ends up the one who is squirming...   

David: Jeremy is a lovable moral vacuum. 

David: "Now, time to stigmatize the mentally ill".   

David: Hilariously immature. No more mature than in 2003! 

David: Electric fence!   

Tom: "Will you two stop electrocuting each other?"

David: "Will you two stop electrocuting each other?!"
'Friendship is a disinterested commerce between equals'
David: "If you don't throw that rock at me, I'm going to hit you with this stick".

David: How did she have time to text that?!  

Tom: Indeed...
David: "You FUCKED it, not me!" 

David: "Why does it say here that I'm 80% gay?!" 

David: "DOBBY!!!" 

David: Excellence.  

Tom: Yes, a pretty good series closer.   

David: Perfect antidote to Mrs Brown's Arse 

Tom: Exactly.   

David: Other current comedy series' close to that standard? I'll say Him and Her, Getting On and, to a lesser extent, Friday Night Dinner. But not a lot else!   

Tom: Maybe could have had more Johnson involvement (following his great cameo in 8.1), but it was a well crafted series revolving around the inevitable love triangle. Dobby has been a necessary character for the programme... to throw the 'brothers' into relief.  

David: I'm certainly looking forward to the sadistic events that series 9 will hopefully have to offer. Once again, it seems that we've reached the end too quickly - I suppose there were episodes on consecutive nights, though. This series didn't run alongside when it was being shown however, unlike last series which seemed to be set around the same time of year.   

Tom: Interesting to think how they'll take it from here...   

David: Looks like Dobby may not return.

'The beloved object is successively the malady and the remedy that suspends and aggravates it.'  
- Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past (Cities of the Plain) (1921-2)     

Tom: Good to have them in open warfare there at the end over her... 

David: I'm sure there will be one or two different women ready to play with their infantile heartstrings. 

David: First time they've competed for the same woman though... 

Tom: Or Sarah, Mark's sister with the fringe and Fifty Shades-inspired bedroom practices...   

David: I would have liked to have seen more of Mark's older woman from his course; she was nice, but then Peep Show wouldn't allow for it to have gone well.

Old Woman Swears: "Mrs Brown's Boys"

'Mammy Christmas' (part 1 of 2)
TX: 29/12/2012, BBC 1

'The number of those who undergo the fatigue of judging for themselves is very small indeed'  
- Sheridan, The Critic (1781)

After too long, us Messrs Lichfield and May return to some TV blogging, whilst simultaneously watching the goggle box. One is not entitled to an opinion on a book, a film or TV series if you've not read or seen it; thus, we trust you will appreciate an undertaking of truly fatiguing proportions.

Tom: Here we go...

Tom: A back-to-back two-parter? Why?

David: I even hate the title sequence.

Tom: That's an inept title sequence, aye.

Tom: [recalling the announcer's words about not having to listen to Slade any longer] Better hearing from Slade than this.
David: This is some cringe-worthy shit.
Tom: There’s laughter…
David: Tackiest sitcom ever. 

Tom: 'Mammy Christmas'. Up a tree, tee-hee.

David: Old woman swears. Ho ho ho.

Tom: “Wek up yerbastud!”

Tom: Seemingly, speaking in an Irish accent is in itself a guarantee of 'humour'.

Tom: “Bono, my grandson”. Ha, very amusing.

David: I can guarantee I won't be laughing once.

Tom: On the “feck”-count we so far haven't any score. I reckon that'll change.

David: Three “bastard”s though.

David: No camp stereotypes here…

David: He's a hairdresser.

David: [following inordinate studio audience snickering] These jokes don't merit that level of uncontrollable laughter.

Tom: Winnie... She embodies that certain sort of irritating, 1970s/80s sitcom busybody with infuriatingly perky body language shit.

David: Even the transitions between scenes are cheap.

Tom: Hilarity ensues here.

David: Production values of a scotch egg.

Tom: Some idiot dressed as a chicken.

Tom: Ah, there had to be a priest here…

Tom: And now there’s a second one. Oddly, they seem to like rubbing in the fact that this isn't Father Ted.

David: Oh, looks like it’s Shelley-off-Corrie's mum.

Tom: The studio audience seem to react to the line “Who the fuck are you?” with utter, unabashed hilarity.

David: I'm sure we've had no “fecks” but two “fuck”s.

David: Pointlessly crude.

David: Can't we write some toss like this and set ourselves up financially for life? I thought we were past one-dimensional stereotypes in comedy?

David: Five “fucks”?

Tom: Six.

Tom: This is as irritating as anything...

David: The Scouting for Girls of sitcoms.

Tom: Now this is comedy... for people who are either without a brain. I say that in sorrow rather than anger - the level of this is depressing.
David: Or the Mumford and Sons of Irish comedy.
Tom: [following some inexplicably inane moment] Did we need that?

David: At least Last of the Summer Wine was charmingly unfunny.

Tom: [Sighs] 'Funny' religion stuff and Richard Branson 'gag'.

David: It's offensive in a completely different manner than it seems was intended.

Tom: “Winnie, it was a joke!!” If these are jokes than Silvio Berlusconi is an honourable man.

Tom: Forced laughter there from the characters themselves.

David: It's not even close to guilty pleasure status.

Tom: No pleasure in this. “Fuck no”, to quote Mrs Brown herself there.

David: Lazy, clich├ęd, embarrassing, boring, outdated, nonsensical, unimaginative, cheap, brainless toss.

Tom: He-he, cream over his chin forms a Santa Claus-esque beard; that's fecking inspired!

David: A cunt dressed as a cabbage.

Hey, characterization! No wait, I don't recall a single thing to like about these 'people'...

Tom: “The poor little mites”.

Tom: They think that that’s funny, seemingly – the use of the word “Panini”.

Tom: No character comedy here, other than in the broadest sense...

David: It's outrageous that this sort of shit's getting commissioned in 2012. It's like the last thirty years of comedy never happened: the only concession to alternative comedy being over-use of the word “fuck”.

Tom: Such gurning fool faces.

Tom: “FECK” #1!

Tom: “The bucking biscuits” – Stanley Unwin-esque quality wordplay there.

David: Gives the cheesiest of 1970s sitcoms a bad name. At least they had to be relatively clever about sneaking sexual references in.

Tom: And the two old biddies are under the table again.

Tom: And, surprisingly enough, there is some headbanging.

David: Has anyone fallen over yet?

Tom: This is epically tiresome.

Tom: Ah, “feck” again there.

Tom: And Fiona Phillips as the daughter.

David: It's an old woman swearing. It's an old woman swearing. IT'S AN OLD WOMAN SWEARING. That's the entire premise of the show.
Tom: Fiona subject to yet another cream drenching.

Tom: “Bono”. FUCK OFF.

David: If I was Irish I'd be personally offended by this dreck.

Tom: 'Awww...' There are sighs from the studio audience.

Tom: There's a tacked-on left-turn into sentimentality that just doesn't wash...

David: Utterly charmless.

David: Are you sure this isn't an hour?

Tom: Fairy tales and the kids... They think they can imbue this with charm at the end? After the sheer grim gormlessness of the rest of it?

Tom: Pan-pipe shite on the soundtrack. Sir Cliff Richard would be proud.

Tom: Mrs B Looks to the camera – and, yep, US, THE AUDIENCE BACK HOME.

Tom: “Goodnight Bono”…

David: Why should sitcoms for the masses have to be this toss? It's no Only Fools and Horses!

Tom: That was teeth-grinding, unremitting, desultory codswallop of the basest type.

David: That was one of the unfunniest, steaming piles of excrement I've ever sat through.

Tom: Then featuring an 'amusing' little cartoon Agnes on the end titles.


Tom: From a country that produced W.B. Yeats and Father Ted, that was unforgivable. It made So Haunt Me look like Fawlty Towers.

David: It's bad enough living through this political and social horror without all the culture going to shit too.

Tom: What is the BBC thinking? Putting this in prime-time...

David: Was massive in Ireland for various series first, worryingly.

David: Why would a country enjoy being stereotyped like that?!

Tom: The only benefit is that we're allowed not to watch the second episode...
David: I literally would pay not to.

Tom: I think an hour of that would turn Kriss Akabusi into a subdued depressive.

ADDENDUM. While sourcing the screen-shots above, I struggled to access the BBC iPlayer broadcast due to some automatically imposed 'Parential Guidance' control. A Quality Control quarantine might be more advisable.