I didn’t watch Doctor Who tonight. What can I say? I was playing ‘Settlers of Catan’ – damn those Germans make good board games, plus my mother-in-law’s addicted. Never mind: I’ll watch the repeat tomorrow or something. It didn’t look too brilliant so I’m not too worried. (Potted review, incidentally, of last week’s episode, since I never got round to it: nice video, shame about the script. For those familiar with classic Who, wasn’t it essentially Patrick Troughton’s The Invasion chopped in half and far less entertaining?).
So I didn’t catch the good Doctor, but I did catch Greg the Bunny on ITV4 afterwards. ITV4’s a great channel in many ways, with a lot of quality stuff, mainly programmes from the US (of course) and British programmes from the 60s and 70s, which is roughly when we could still make decent/entertaining TV consistently.
The trouble is it has ‘ITV’ at the beginning of its name, which makes you think it’s nothing but rubbish. You really have to force yourself to watch it and constantly come up with new reasons to switch the channel from Ulster TV’s pro-celebrity basket-weaving or whatever crud you’ve found on one of the other channels; ITV4 will almost certainly be guaranteed to be showing something that should be a gadzillion times more appealing but for some reason isn’t. Judging by ITV4’s viewing figures, it’s as though we’ve collectively been given aversion therapy and now have to summon our courage to the very sticking point just to watch a couple of minutes of even the best show, for fear of getting the electric shocks again.
So here’s a good reason to watch ITV4: Greg the Bunny, which airs on Saturdays. It’s really a very funny show (well, it was: it’s been cancelled, of course), put together by some cutting-edge New York comedians and with a pretty stellar cast. It’s basically about a TV show for kids that features puppets – such as Greg the Bunny – but the twist is the puppets are all real and are generally regarded as an ethnic minority. Tonight’s show revolved around some nasty graffiti found in the gents’ that used the s-word (sock), which forced management to send everyone to sensitivity training. Here’s a choice sample of dialogue I found on the Internet after doing some snooping:
“Let’s face it, humans have been mistreating puppets for centuries. It’s nothing new. We lure them to our country with the tartar sauce, and the lollipops, and the empty promises of sparklers which I believe are yet unfulfilled…”
Anyway, I liked it, particularly because the cast includes not just Seth Green (Austin Powers and Oz in Buffy) and Eugene Levy (American Pie) but also the delectable but ever-so-slightly scary Sarah Silverman. In case you’ve not heard the name before, she’s commonly regarded as the Next Big Thing™ in edgy US comedy (the successor to Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Andy Kaufmann, Bill Hicks – delete according to your generation).
If you’ve seen her and actually remember her, it’s probably because you watched The Aristocrats, a documentary about comedians that was in the cinema relatively recently. It’s named after a particular joke told by comedians to other comedians. The joke only has an opener and a punchline, but the comedian has to fill in the gap in between, the idea being that it’s an opportunity to show off their comedic style and gross out or offend the others. Silverman’s version of ‘The Aristocrats’ is the only one that really offended people, despite descent into racism, sexism, necrophilia, coprophilia and the like by the other stand-ups. As I said, delectable but scary.
So catch Greg, catch Sarah and see if you can boost ITV4’s ratings in treble figures. Through the magic of YouTube, here’s a clip of Greg visiting a Sci-Fi convention for you to get your teeth into as a kind of sampler for you.