Review: The Peter Serafinowicz Show 1.1

Peter Serafinowicz

In the UK: Thursdays, 9.30pm, BBC2
In the US: Not yet acquired

Peter Serafinowicz has been quietly lurking, almost invisibly, within many of the good British comedy shows and movies of the last decade. He’s been in Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Look Around You, Little Britain, I’m Alan Partridge, Black Books and more. He’s also king of the voiceover: you may remember him from such shows as South Park, The IT Crowd and Hippies, as well as, most famously, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, in which he played the voice – but not the body – of Darth Maul.

Despite this, he doesn’t get the name-check recognition of the likes of Simon Pegg, Matt Lucas et al. Is this about to change, now he’s got his own show, thanks to the all-powerful YouTube?

Er, maybe. Or, at the very least, more people will try to pronounce his name…

Last night’s opening episode was slightly hit or miss. There were some very funny sketches (the Sillit Bang and QVC spoofs), there were some very funny ideas for sketches that weren’t quite so funny in practice (Clones House) and there were some sketches where you had no idea what Serafinowicz was trying to spoof or why (the piano hands sketch. WTF?).

All the same, the majority of it was amusing or even laugh out loud funny. Serafinowicz turns out to be a ridiculously good impressionist, as well as a good comedy actor, and you wonder why no one’s offered him a job on Dead Ringers.

You’ve got to have quite a silly sense of humour to get the most from the show, and you have to have watched some pretty arse TV in your time as well – Serafinowicz’s memory goes all the way back to Michael Caine’s movie masterclass, so you’re going to have to be of a certain age to get some of the jokes. Not quite a Mitchell and Webb slam dunk, but several leagues above the likes of My Family.

You can view lots of clips and behind the scenes footage at the official BBC site. And on YouTube of course.

  • Hmm, you’re a lot kinder to it than I have been. As you say, a lot of it was pure weird, and not even in a good way. I was pretty disappointed to be honest – Serafinowicz is a great performer but he was really let down by the writing.

  • I’m benevolent, me. Plus that lawyer sketch garnered a lot of good will from me that covered the humour deficiency in things like the Sherlock Holmes sketch.
    I’m a firm believer in Jerry Sadowitz’s ‘humour tax’ principle: the unfunny stuff is a tax you have to pay to enjoy the funny stuff. This was more mid-80s taxation levels rather than 1970s (v bad) or c.1996 (v good) levels, which I think is acceptable to the majority of hard-working British families.

  • Mark H Wilkinson

    I tried watching this, despite my concern about some preview clips (including one on Caine’s Masterclass, which I remember). After a while, my hand, of its own volition, activated the remote to seek out a recorded episode of Robot Chicken.
    I also tried the first episode of The Sarah Silverman Program last night. This time, my hand led me to Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends on the Cartoon Network.
    On the whole, my hand seems to think animation is more suitable for an adult’s enjoyment than unfunny oddities from people who are old enough to know better.
    I’m inclined to agree.

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