Back in the day it was all Friends, Fraiser and Ellen. You knew where you were then – you don’t go out on a Friday because you know you’ll get consistent, well written, well performed comedy with a new episode of Fraiser. But then Fraiser got moved about in the schedules (I’m yet to forgive Channel 4 for this), Friends came to an end… god knows what happened to Ellen. Suddenly, Channel 4 had nothing. People started going out. Well they weren’t going to stand for that for long, so last night saw The Big Push, with a new sketch show Blunder. Can it fill such big American shoes?
Well, no, not really. I was looking forward to Blunder – bright young things, livening up the e4/Channel 4 schedules with some fantastic brand new comedy – but it didn’t deliver the goods.
The first problem is David Mitchell’s massively incongruous presence. He’s just far more famous than all the other comics working on the show – he’s got his own sketch show for goodness sake (with Robert Webb, I know) – and as a result he sticks out like a sore thumb. What on earth is he doing there? I found myself thinking this every time he came on-screen, and that’s really quite off-putting. Probably more my problem than theirs, but still.
Then there’s the admittedly more important problem of the rather weird format. Half of the show is essentially character-based stand up, with a live audience, and the other half consists of location-filmed sketches, and the two don’t really sit together particularly well. In fact, it all feels a little amateur, and, while I have no problem with the cartoony, old-fashioned humour that this show deals in (it’s a ‘mischievous, anarchic world aimed at the daft side in all of us’ don’t you know), here it only serves to add to the feeling of a hurriedly thrown together revue. There’s no shortage of talent – Rhys Thomas and Tom Meeten perform particularly well in front of the live audience – but the location sketches fall completely flat, and nothing raised more than a smile. In other words, the whole thing’s a bit of a mess, and does nothing to showcase these comics who we know, from previous projects like Spoons and Nathan Barley, are capable of much much more. [annawaits]