Yet again, Kevin Bishop seems determined to make us look like fools for thinking the pilot episode of his show was quite enjoyable. It’s still a premise with loads of potential – channel hopping through an EPG full of spoofs, replete with semi-authentic station idents and channel numbers, supposedly never staying with an idea long enough for it to get boring (a problem known in the industry as the “reading the full story in The Onion not just the headline” effect). Supposedly. Now, if we’re unlucky, that’ll all be PR guff, and many ideas are actually dragged out for much longer than you’d needed to suck the only joke on offer completely dry. Which will it be, eh?
It’s not very good, basically. In amongst all of the jokes where the punchline is “someone says ‘fuck’ or ‘rape’”, or where a decent idea has been free to hatch from a thought-egg but then left to fend for itself, there are a lot of rehashed ideas from the first series. He’s still doing uninspired “fake Wii games” (ha ha! Chavs! Spliffs!) and “fake Mail on Sunday DVD giveaways”, for crap’s sake (speaking of which, Lucas and Walliams did a much better spoof of a certain classic Frost Report sketch about twelve years ago).
While “Parky/Emu” was a good idea to kick off with, it went downhill from there. The world’s worst Hugh Laurie impression followed immediately after, and later on the nice little Parky/Emu gag was run into the ground, repeating the same joke only with “Wogan/Best” and “Aspel/Reed” tacked on, adding absolutely nothing new to the original premise. At least use other members of the cast dressed as Su Pollard and Clive James if you’re going to do the latter. Tsk.
There were highlights, such as a quick Michael Jackson joke that didn’t take the lazy route (“coming up next: Michael Jackson – What Really Happened. We haven’t got a clue, but we’ll milk it for an hour anyway”). There were also a few near-highlights, such as the ribbing of format whores Horne and Corden, only for this to be largely devalued after Bishop had spent a lot of time in promotional interviews for the series (such as the one in TV & Satellite Week that we read) moaning about people who’d criticised Horne & Corden’s sketch show. Badly remembered quote: “well, the critics didn’t like it, but it was very popular with the people it was aimed at”. Presumably he made a follow-up comment along the lines of “but you could probably say the same thing about child pornography”, which was cut, else he seems like a bit of a hypocrite right now.
Some sketches weren’t quite as fresh as you’d really hope for a New Face Of Channel Four Comedy. The joke about Top Gear being on Dave quite a lot would have worked more effectively if it hadn’t already been made by… Jeremy “see you next week, or if you’re watching on Dave, see you in two minutes” Clarkson on Top Gear itself. Oh, plus the “Parrot sketch results in refund” had already been done by Cleese and Palin to better effect, too.
A good benchmark of this sort of thing is: “how many of the sketches would have been at home on prime-era Spitting Image?” The “Gritty Bafta”, “Mr Marple” or “footballer at a funeral” skits might well have slotted in during a slow week in the writing room at Fluck & Law Towers. The rest: barely worth uploading to YouTube, frankly.
One of the annoying things about the whole affair is, given the right vehicle and more talented writers, Bishop could be a hugely enjoyable performer. If he was, say, one of the comedy players on Sky’s Soccer AM, he’d be a cult hero (all together now: “two cups of coffee and a choc ice!”), where his “being a bit rubbish at impersonations” would be a boon. As it is now, it’s kind of like he’s fronting a show where a bunch of really funny scripts had been pored over for months, only for an catastrophic write error to have occurred with the final Microsoft Word files, meaning just a few of the primary rough drafts were sent out for shooting instead, padded out with whatever the writers could scribble on the back of a fag packet in the lift at 60 Charlotte Street.
In short, Kevin Bishop: A Poundstretcher Peter Serafinowicz. In short while trying to be nice about the show because you never know if we’re lucky we’ll end up getting quoted on the DVD release of the show: It’s still slightly funnier than the "3 Mobile Stand-Up Guy” in the sponsor bumpers.
You know, we’re going to keep doing these Comprehensive Reviews until we find a show that lives up to our expectations. Just slagging things off makes us look needlessly grumpy. Bah.