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


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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