In the UK: Thursdays, 10.30pm, ITV2
There’s something that baffles me about the British. Whenever Hollywood produces a comedy where Hugh Grant turns up, being all self-effacing and a bit of a klutz and lacking in confidence compared to those powerful, strident American types who are all into self-improvement and “being all you can be”*, we get on our high horses and whinge about ‘clueless bloody Americans’.
Then we go and produce half a dozen ‘comedies’ where we live down to the same stereotype. Do we have no pride? Must we really think the worst of ourselves? Must we really hate people who are, ooh, I don’t know, good at things?
Case in point: ITV2’s No Heroics. It’s British! It’s about superheroes! Yey! So they spend all their time down the pub grumbling about how crap they are and being complete dorks.
Brand new for 2008, No Heroics is a six-part series that sees a group of British off-duty superheroes living their day-to-day life – which for supposed saviours of the world is actually rather normal, as they just can’t be a***d.
Instead, this group of B-listers would rather get drunk and commiserate their lack of superiority in their local superheroes-only pub, The Fortress, reading New Power Express and bitching about everyone who’s more successful than them.
No Heroics is an exclusive comedy sitcom featuring stellar Britcom talent.
Is it any good?
Time to get nuanced, now you’ve made it this far. Yes, it’s yet another “Brits are rubbish. Let’s make a sitcom about losers” effort from the country that doesn’t like to try too hard in case it fails or someone thinks it’s full of itself (and that would never do).
But No Heroics isn’t bad, despite that massive disclaimer. Even if the writer does seem to think at times that simply swearing a lot is just as funny as well written dialogue**, the cast are all very good, there are some good lines and good situations and yes, there are more than a few laugh out loud moments.
In fact, if they simply excised the lead character from the whole programme, it would actually be very good.
See, while the other superheroes are all interesting – particularly gay Spanish depressive Time Bomb and the amoral Electroclash – the Hotness is pretty much a two-dimensional tosser, designed to be inept and nothing else. Cut him out of the equation or at least make him halfway decent – just no Excelsor, of course – and you’d have the makings of a very good show. As it is, despite the superhero twist, the show’s kryptonite is that the Hotness is interchangeable with just about any male loser from any British sitcom with self-esteem issues that you could care to mention. Surprisingly, he’s not that special.
Still, if self-consciously British, down at heel comedies are your thing, you’ll probably love it. If not, you’ll still probably be able to enjoy it: you’ll just be left with the feeling that, if maybe they’d tried a little harder, they could have had something very good indeed. One to watch, just in case it gets better.
Here’s a YouTube trailer:
Nicholas Burns (The Hotness)
James Lance (Time Bomb)
Patrick Baladi (Excelsor)
Clarie Keelan (Electroclash)
Rebekah Staton (She-Force)
* Okay, that’s the army’s tag line. I know that
** Am I getting old? Maybe…