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Review: Baskets 1x1 (US: FX)

Posted on January 27, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

 Baskets on FX

In the US: Thursdays, 10pm ET/PT, FX

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell not only if something is funny but if it's actually trying to be funny. Consider the clown. The very name 'clown' evinces the ides that humour is his raison d'être. Yet all he does all day is dress up very weirdly, squirt others with water from a flower and have big shoes. 

Do you know anyone who finds clowns funny? I don't. Do kids, the alleged target audience, find clowns funny? Most seem to get nightmares about them and their horrifying nature is supported in all manner of movies.

Yet clowns continue to exist.

Consider then the irony of Baskets. It's written and created by Zach Galifianakis and Louis CK, both noted names in comedy. It stars Galifianakis not once but twice as twin brothers Chip and Dale Baskets, which again suggests the show is a comedy. And Chip Baskets is himself a clown, having gone to a prestigious clown school in Paris and who styles himself as 'Renoir'.

All indicators, surely, of comedy?

Yet sitting through it, I had to ask myself many many times: "Am I missing something or is this just not funny? At all." Is it supposed to be funny that Baskets has enrolled in a Paris clown school but doesn't speak French? Or that the first five minutes of everyone else's dialogue are in unsubtitled French? I didn't laugh. Maybe it was because I could understand what everyone was saying and you're not supposed to be able to, I thought.

So is it funny that when he has to return home to the US because he's run out of money, the Frenchwoman he loves agrees to marry him but with the proviso that "I don't love you. It's only because I want a Green Card. I do not find you attractive, so if I find someone who is attractive, is it okay if I go off with him?" It's dark. Very dark. It could be funny, if a little xenophobic. Maybe I'm supposed to laugh. I don't know.

Is it funny when Baskets has to get a job as a rodeo clown? Or when he has a crash on his moped and he meets a very low key, underplayed, monotone insurance agent (Martha Kelly) and asks to borrow $40 from her so he can pay for his fiancée's HBO connection? Is Louie Anderson in drag playing Galifianakis' mum funny? Is Galifianakis being pronged by a rodeo bull funny?

I. Just. Don't. Know.

It might well be that this is hilariously funny stuff for some people. The kind of people whom Aaron Sorkin thought would lap up commedia dell'arte sketches in a primetime Saturday night sketch show.

But not me. Is that funny?

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Some other people who don't like the TV shows they appear in: Mattthew Perry and Rainn Wilson

Posted on November 30, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Okay, they're just pretending they don't like Go On and The Office, because of that naughty Angus T Jones. Nice jab at Studio 60, too.

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Preview: Go On (NBC) 1x1

Posted on September 4, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Go On

In the US: Tuesdays, 9pm Eastern/8pm Central, NBC. Starts September 11
In the UK: Not yet acquired

NBC. Comedy.

Funny how if you'd stuck those two words together in the 90s, you'd have got gold, thanks to Friends, and how if you stick them together now, despite Community and 30 Rock, you get lead. Certainly the viewers seem to think so, judging from the ratings.

Yes, that's exactly how I started my review of The New Normal yesterday and I'm reusing it for three reasons: first, that if you're still expecting an NBC comedy to be funny, you know that definition of madness and doing the same thing over and over again and expecting something different? That one? That's you that is.

Secondly, you notice how I mentioned Friends, 'ratings' and 'gold' in the same paragraph there? Well, NBC has that etched on the walls of their comedy commissioning office and when the thought of Matthew Perry (Chandler in Friends) appearing in a new NBC sitcom created by one of the producers of Friends hit them, they came over all funny. Okay, Studio 60 wasn't exactly a slam dunk, but that wasn't a comedy. This is an actual sitcom.

Hence, the commissioning of Go On, which - and here's my third point - can only be described as Community, one of NBC's few critical comedy successes of recent years, even if it's not a ratings success. However, instead of Joel McHale, you have Matthew Perry and instead of a community college study group, you have a community college support group. And instead of laughter, you have tears. No, really, because although laughs are pretty thin on the ground with Go On, I did actually weep buckets during it. And no, not for NBC's doomed ratings and the sure and certain knowledge this is going to be cancelled within a season.

Here's a trailer that contains literally all the jokes. And - be warned - all the bits that will make you cry.

Continue reading "Preview: Go On (NBC) 1x1"

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