In the UK: Thursdays, 9.30pm, BBC2. Repeated Tuesdays, 10.30pm, BBC3.
Well there’s surprising. A funny sketch show on BBC2. I wasn’t expecting that. I thought those days were long gone. Certainly, I wasn’t expecting it from Mitchell and Webb, whose Peep Show everyone keeps going on about but which I only found slightly amusing.
But this I actually look forward to each week. I’ve set the PVR and everything!
Now it could be argued that the reason it’s so good is that it’s based very closely on their radio series, That Mitchell and Webb Sound. After all, as a general rule, Radio 4 comedies are good, shows based on Radio 4 comedies are good, shows that aren’t based on Radio 4 comedies are bad.
Whatever the reason, we’ve been treated to SS officers concerned about their place in the scheme of things, the unlikely superhero combo of Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit, the TV equivalent of Mornington Crescent – Numberwang, and some excellent pastiches of Channel 4 lifestyle programmes. All without a blatant attempt to do catchphrase comedy in sight. Well, maybe Numberwang, but as catchphrases go, “That’s Numberwang!” is pretty weak, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
If there are some criticisms to be made, it’s of their overuse of certain ideas and characters: many of the characters appear in gut-wrenchingly funny initial sketches but appear later in the same show and later shows in less funny sketches, something that waters down their initial impact. Occasionally, some of the sketches misfire as well. But on the whole, there’s a very high standard throughout.
Here’s a YouTube clip from the first episode. I should point out that if you’ve missed any episodes, you can find practically all of them in 1-minute chunks on YouTube, so you can catch up quite easily.