Third-episode verdict: The Brink (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 4

In the US: Sundays, 10.30pm/9.30c, HBO
In the UK: Mondays, 10.10pm, Sky Atlantic

It’s fair to say the final two minutes of the third episode of The Brink made me change my mind about it a little. It’s slightly smarter than it first seemed, perhaps being more about political gamemanship than about a genuinely crazy Pakistani general taking over his country, causing the world to worry it’s on the brink of war. The US’s – and perhaps the world’s – only hopes are the asian-addicted US Secretary of State (Tim Robbins) and a hapless, idiotic US civil servant in Pakistan (Jack Black).

But it’s still not great. No siree.

The show has been consistent since day one in giving us a world run by hopelessly childish, corrupt and often stupid men who might nevertheless be quite good at their jobs – well, some of them.

It’s also been consistently unfunny, although it’s constantly firing a broad spectrum of attempted jokes that would probably sit well in any Judd Apatow movie comedy. Some of these make it through to their targets, whether it’s a simple swear off between two important officials or a sight gag involving a man with a very large penis.

But largely they follow a simple, uninspiring formula that juxtaposes the seriousness of the position or person with their conversation or vice versa – eg Pakistani president in a conspirators’ meeting talking about his brother’s cheap choice in wine, Secretary of State arguing with an Indian politician while in a urinal.

There is some intelligence behind it all, as I intimated earlier, and there’s certainly some wit to it at times. But the humour’s so broad that it neutralises most of that intelligence.

The Brink’s certainly not the worst programme you could watch and it’s not the least funny comedy on TV by a long shot. But it could and should have been a whole lot better.

Barrometer rating: 4
TMINE prediction: Should be dead by the end of the season




  • benjitek

    Kinda liked the first episode — but each one has deteriorated a little, with the last one — I found myself gravitating towards surfing the net while it was playing…

  • At half an hour, it's just short enough that I've not needed to surf the net at the same time. A couple of games of TwoDots, though. Something like Killjoys* needs several breaks per episode to maintain interest.

    * Interestingly, I nearly put Kilroys there. Now that would have been a vastly more entertaining series