You’d think a girl would learn, wouldn’t you? This is a sitcom, populated with bit part comedy players, on ITV2, at 10.30pm. The only thing that has ever met most of that criteria in the past and been anything approaching good is the really-very-good Comedy Cuts. Everything else should have led me to the conclusion that it was going to be bad, and yet I still bounded in like an excitable puppy, hoping for my new favourite TV show. You’d think a girl would learn.
This sitcom is based in a world, not too dissimilar to ours in most aspects, but very different in one particular aspect – the fact that, in that world, superheroes exist. Except, they’re more like the rubbish X-Men that can be found in the background of Professor Xavier’s academy, rather the ones in the jet with the cloaking device and groovy costumes. Not so much superheroes as… people with special skills. They might enhance their CVs a bit, but it certainly doesn’t make them good people who are interested in saving others from the brink of destruction. They’d rather be down the pub.
Nicholas Burns plays ‘The Hotness’, essentially a Marvel-version of his Nathan Barley character. His special power is the ability to control fire, though he doesn’t do it especially well, and is horrifically self-absorbed, misogynistic and generally unlikable. Another Barley alumnus, Claire Keelen, also features as Electroclash, and while she’s got an infinitely better name, she’s no better at being a superhero. She’s pretty self-absorbed and unlikable too. Then there’s Timebomb, a Spanish washed-up drunk who can see 60 seconds into the future, She-Force, the world’s third strongest woman, and Excelsor, who’s meant to be the villain of the piece, but they’re all pretty horrible so it makes very little difference.
The main problem with this comedy is that the writers have apparently decided to replace the jokes with an unremitting coarseness – the swear word count is impressively high – and to produce characters that no-one in their right mind could give too hoots about. The only performance that has anything going for it is James Lance as Timebomb, as at least he has a bit of whithering, self-deprecating wit about him, but mainly the actors seem to be on autopilot.
And this is all a great shame because it should be a good idea. The likes of Heroes shows that we love our comic book heroes, and showing them on their days off should be a great starting point for comedy. Put this idea into the hands of the creators of Spaced – people who genuinely love Marvel and DC – and this could be a masterpiece. As it is, No Heroics is just another reason why ITV is known as the graveyard of comedy.