As I’m sure many people are aware, the road to your own comedy show is fraught with danger. You have to be either an ‘overnight’ discovery who’s hailed as a comedy goldmine, or be part of an established troupe who have been quietly slogging away for years. While both methods are tried and tested, it is the latter which is more common as it has many more benefits. For example:
- It allows the performers name and face to be recognised by a potential audience, but not be associated with just one character or programme.
- It endorses them through their association with other and, most likely, more famous performers.
- Their abilities have been proved, but without the pressure of a whole show resting on their shoulders.
- It has given them time to hone their skills and mature their writing.
- It is a reward for years of supporting roles.
It’s a method that has worked time and time again, and bar a few examples, has proven itself in comedy gold. Without the act of promoting the support act we wouldn’t have had stirling work by Paul Whitehouse, or Steve Coogan, or Armando Iannucci, to name but a few.
Therefore there was every reason to believe that Peter Serafinowicz would be the latest in a long line of background boys made good, showing us why he has been around for so long, and what has kept him in such esteemed company. After all, Serafinowicz has been in some of the best TV shows of the last 5 years; he’s done consistently good work is roles of varying importance and, best of all, he’s created memorable characters and classic moments of TV.
Which makes it all the more of a shame that the first episode of his solo outing was so mediocre. It wasn’t a total failure and there were some amusing moments, but a handful of lines that force a chuckle isn’t really good enough for someone of Serafinowicz’s supposed calibre.
The TV parody format seemed totally out of date. There were sketches on the shopping network (ooh, at least 15 years old now), Michael Caine impressions (that’s about 35 years out of date), Entertainment channels (hitting a decade), Sherlock Holmes and Watson being gay (Hale and Pace era) and a piss-take of Big Brother that was predictable the moment the title appeared. By the time the third installment of the Big Clone sketch appeared I was feeling ill at the prospect of having to sit through another minute of the same idea. By the time the fourth one hit I was in the bathroom having a shit.
Worst of all, the whole thing reeked of a smugness of commentary. Each sketch seemed to believe that it was also saying something a little bit profound about television itself and after a while I found that very irritating. To give it its due, the technical side was great with each era and style of show being recreated very authentically and Serafinowicz himself was charming and able (plus an excellent mimmick – great Alan Alada impression!) despite the terrible material.
The whole show felt like he had known that his time would come, so he had written a script and left it waiting for the right moment, during that time, though, it expired. There was nothing new about any of it, and to see a show purportedly about television breaking it’s own rules made it come across a little lazy. Maybe episode 2 will be better, maybe not. I don’t really care.