Two Channel 4 comedies, the return of Ricky Gervais’ favourite idiot and a bunch of people sleeping are the highlights of this week’s instalment
It’s fair to say that Peep Show has been a long-time favourite on this site and has cropped up in my Top 25 most years. However, there is an argument that all good things should come to an end and after eight series it does seem as if the sitcom has passed its prime slightly. This first episode of the new series sees Mark desperate for Dobby to move into his flat however she’s still being terribly vague about her situation. Instead of asking her straight out Mark uses underhanded tactics which include breaking her microwave and seeing if she buys a new one. Mark is also angry about the amount of time Dobby is spending with his former love rival Gerard who is currently very ill. The lovely Dobby doesn’t see anything wrong in playing Connect 4 with him but it is clear that he is still very much in love with her. While Mark is worrying about Dobby, he is also recruited for a job at the bathroom supplies store where Super Hans works. As Mark is invited back for a second interview, he is met with the news that Gerard has passed away on the night that Mark didn’t let Dobby spend time with him. Though Mark offers to pay for the funeral, there are more dilemmas when his second interview and the funeral are scheduled for the same day. Meanwhile a lost Jeremy is hanging onto the fact that the newspapers will want to buy his 3-0 Walcott headline when the footballer turns 30. However, it seems he may have a new career path in mind when he has his first therapy session and then sets out to be a therapist himself. I personally feel like Peep Show is going round in circles to an extent as Mark is once again worrying about his relationship while Jeremy is stupidly latching on to another career. There are still some funny lines, including one where Mark considers locking down Dobby like Fritzl, but they aren’t as frequent as they once were. Part of me wonders if Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain are concentrating more on the brilliant Fresh Meat than they are on their original pet project as the quality in Peep Show is starting to dip. Having said that, Peep Show is still one of the funniest sitcoms on the TV it’s just that it isn’t as great as it once was and I’d like to see it finish on a high rather than decline in both laughs and character development.
But the first episode of Peep Show’s eighth series seems like the best comedy in the world when compared with Channel 4′s other offering of Kookyville. Voiced by Honour Blackman, who I hope was paid handsomely for her role in this mess, Kookyville is a comedy sketch show in which all the performers are real people but in which some of the situations have been set up for comedy reasons. I think what the team behind Kookyville were going for was a sort of spoof of Towie and Made in Chelsea but those two shows are ridiculous enough in and of themselves. The ‘characters’ of Kookyville include mum and daughter Suzanne and Annie Rose who talk about who they follow on Twitter and their fascination with dwarves. There is car entrepreneur Afzal who insults his employs and his customers. There’s even a very obvious Towie spoof in the characters of Babs, Shabs and Cabs who argue whether it is the same person on the stamps that is on the pound note. The most memorable character of the bunch though is foul-mouthed grandmother Ronnie who regularly swears at passers-by and shoots the breeze with her German friend Karen. My main issue with Kookyville is that I didn’t really know what emotion I was supposed to be feeling while watching it. It certainly didn’t provoke any laughter but I’m not sure if it was more a social satire on our fascination with the constructed reality shows that this is so obviously spoofing. I think this show would’ve been more groundbreaking had it come along a couple of years ago, but in late 2012 the majority of these constructed reality programmes have already jumped the shark. At the end of the day Kookyville seems like a show whose idea was scribbled on the back of a fag packet and was commissioned after Channel 4 wanted a cheap comedy sketch show to accompany Peep Show on a Sunday night. At the end of the first instalment we were promised more of the same next week and after hearing this I resolved never to watch Kookyville again.
For our third comedy of sorts we turn to Sky One and the return of everyone’s favourite dunce Karl Pilkington who goes on holiday once again in the third series of An Idiot Abroad. As Ricky Gervais tells us, Pilkington would only agree to a third series if he had some company and Gervais set about finding someone who was up for the journey. In the end it was his little mate Warwick Davis whose never say no attitude was completely different to Pilkington’s stick-in-the-mud persona. I feel a companion was what this show was lacking and makes Pilkington’s antics a little more tolerable. As always, Gervais feels the show would sink without his constant presence so occasionally rings Warwick to ask him if ‘the little round headed twonk is moaning too much.’ This series also has a set route as the pair travel the course originally set by Marco Polo as they start their journey in Venice. As always, there is much moaning from Pilkington as Warwick convinces him to go to a masked ball in a silly outfit. After this, Gervais changes the route slightly and tells the duo they are going to cut through Macedonia. Here they stay with some Romany gypsies as Karl ponders which animals are the most useful. They also go to a spiritual ceremony which freaks Karl out a little bit and makes him retreat to the safety of his headphones. Finally, Gervais organises for Pilkington to be strapped to some helium balloons and fly off the ground but Karl turns the tables and makes Warwick do it as well. By the end of this first episode it appears as if Pilkington has already tired of his diminutive companion and would happily swap him with a cat. While the inclusion of Davis has certainly refreshed the Idiot Abroad format, I still think Pilkington is quite a one-note character who has long since passed his prime. I think a comedy travelogue programme is a good idea but I’d personally like something a lot funnier than this Gervais produced series.
So how do you follow up a triple bill of comedy? Well with an experiment programme that hopes to cure various Brits of their sleeping illnesses. Goodnight Britain, saw Doctors Kirstie Anderson and Jason Ellis travel around the country to analyse the sleeping patterns of their five volunteers. The first of the five is seemingly normal young lady Kathryn who randomly gets up in the middle of the night and frightens long-suffering flatmate Allison with her night terrors. Paul was a chronic snorer whose wife was so tired she had to sleep in another room, however the doctors felt that Paul may actually suffer from a fairly serious case of sleep apnea. Then there was Gwen, who spent all of her nights awake and felt like she was sleeping in a bed made of thistles. Like Gwen, Sheila also stays up all night but she sees this more as a choice as she partakes in various activities including baking and walking the dog. Finally there was shift-worker Chris whose erratic sleeping habits had left him with a myriad of disorders from snoring to insomnia. After spying on their volunteers’ nocturnal habits for two weeks, the doctors invited them all to their specially constructed sleep house. I personally didn’t see the benefits of putting two heavy snorers in the same vicinity as two insomniacs but this was obviously the best way to diagnose all of the disorders. After a night being tied up to various wires and tubes, the doctors had diagnosed all five conditions however they did have bad news for Paul. I personally don’t know how to judge Goodnight Britain but I can say that watching people sleep isn’t exactly my idea of primetime entertainment. I felt that the Doctors were a bit patronising at times while host Sian Williams was hardly on screen at all. This essentially boiled down to a cross between Tomorrow’s World and Embarrassing Bodies with the extreme sleepers having the chance to curb their disorders with pioneering treatments. While I wish the five volunteers well, I won’t be watching the second episode of this farce as I’ll be busy seeking out something that actually constitutes televisual entertainment.
That’s your lot for now and I’ll see you next week.