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Saturday, 12 January 2008

Leigh Francis/Avid Merrion/Keith Lemon/The Bear

Keith Lemon’s Very Brilliant World Tour!, ITV2
Did we like it?
Too superficial to act as a spoof cultural travelogue, too witless to be a comedy – a truly awful waste of the talents of Leigh Francis.

What was good about it?
• Nice views of the Grand Canyon.

What was bad about it?
• Olivia Lee, the second most repellent of the odious rogues’ gallery of Balls of Steel after Mark Dolan, who had a cameo in the prologue.
• It appears to be a feeble cash-in of the Borat school of comedy, but is bereft of intelligence, humour and any sense of social comment that made Borat funny (although whenever Borat played to an audience who were in on the joke, such as at the MTV Europe Awards, that creation was as similarly impotent as Keith Lemon was here).
• There was no abrasiveness to Lemon’s encounters, he acted too stupidly for any of his oblivious guests to take him seriously so the Chippendales simply chuckled at his inept dancing, while a pretty female ranch hand looked both bemused and bored at Lemon’s extravagant chat-up lines.
• Francis seemed to gauge if something was funny if perennial Bo Selecta guest Mel B laughed at his antics. Leaving aside the fact that Mel B forsook her humanity the moment Wannabe stormed the charts like the Black Death stalking the pestilent streets of Whitechapel, the sight of Keith charmlessly coaxing her into his bedroom was rancid television for its utter absence of originality.
• The places and people Lemon visits are all too brief to able to set up a gag, and so no sooner have we arrived at the Grand Canyon then we’re whisked away to a ranch, and then on to a ‘risque’ festival where repressed Americans live out their repressed teenage dreams with wet T-shirt catwalking and genital beauty contests – this more than anything else in the first episode offered a teeming reservoir of untapped comedy potential but Lemon/ Francis was satisfied to make some limp quips in a bull testicle-eating competition.
• The utterly pointless interlude when Lemon came back to Leeds to discuss Mel C’s ‘pregnancy’ with their child. Amateurish and conceited enough to believe that the presence of a celebrity – no matter how desiccated with obsolescence – will be a satisfactory (and that is the loftiest peak anything in this show aimed for) sketch.
• The absolute paucity of material that was even just rubbish became apparent in the frequency of hurried filler such as when Lemon is spooked by someone pottering about outside his motel room only to discover – without ever there being an ounce of tension or comedy – that it’s his cameraman.

Bo' Selecta, Channel 4
• Avid Merrion playing basketball in a Teen Wolf spoof Funny
• The Bear taking over the show. "Avid Merrion as so shit they've shot him. Bit harsh, isn't it? Should have just cut off his wanking arm." Funny
• Denis Norden on a drip Not funny
• Michael Jackson in Doing Porridge Not funny
• Walking Gingerly With Mick Hucknall featuring guest Neil Ruddock as he deals with gingerism. Funny
• The Bear forming Busters with Steven the Squirrel and Charlie from Busted – and then breaking up the band. "Take your big fat slug-like eyebrows with you!" Funny
• Lorraine Kelly's echoing growler Not funny
• Craig David Checks It Out, featuring the paranormal with Derek Acorah Not funny
• EastEndings with Ali the cafĂ© owner Not funny
• T4 with the giggly, smelly, ugly Cheeky Girls Funny
• Mr T meets Denise Van Outen Not funny
• The Odd Couple: a drunken Patsy experiments in lesbian sex with Mel B Funny
• The wrap party with Jodie Marsh and the Liberty X girls Not funny
Totals: Six funny; seven not funny

Bo' Selecta
• Davina and Dermot. "Fuck me you sexy bugger." Funny
• Avid Merrion in the desert and the studio. Not funny
• Craig David announcing "I'm splitting up" on T4 and doing some synchronised swimming. Funny
• Bored Of The Rings Not funny
• How Clean Is Your Arse? trailer. Disgusting. Funny
• Michael Jackson time travelling Not funny
• The vox pop: if you had to sleep with an Arctic animal, what would it be? Funny
• Noel and Liam Gallagher Not funny
• Gay Blankety Blank Funny.
• Jack Osbourne and Har Mar Superstar (and Anthony) Not funny
• Justin from The Darkness shopping for frankfurters Funny
• Avid and Abi Titmuss Not funny
• The Odd Couple: Mel B rehearsing an Emmerdale lesbian love scene with "minge teasing bastard" Patsy Kensit Funny
• Denis Norden on a drip Not funny
• Skinner and Baddiel. Not funny
• Totals: Seven funny; eight not funny.

Bo' Selecta
Davina McCall spying on a hairy chested Nadia while she takes a masculine piss. Funny
Avid Merrion in the “shittest part of the show”. He said it. Not funny
EastEndings featuring paranoid Kat Slater complete with pig’s trotters for hands and “big flabby bingo wings an’ all”. Funny
Fake Big Brother newsflash with Davina McCall and cocknose. Too predictable. Not funny
Craig David bemoans the failure of his single as he tries to Break America. Not funny
Vernon Kay cameo. Funny
Christina Aguilera in America’s Trashiest Pop Whore Sluts, with Paul Ross satirising his contributions to TV nostalgia shows. Not cruel enough. Not funny
Trisha with her distended thighs and bum promoting Rice And Pea In Da Pod. Funny
Sight Seeing with Stevie Wonder in the bedroom of a copulating couple. Not funny
Michael Jackson visits the psychiatrist in Doing Porridge. The running flaw is that it pokes fun at a far superior comedy. Not funny
Avid meets Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne to ask their permission to take Kelly out on a date. Way too long but hit the spot on a few occasions. Funny
Mel B and Patsy Kensit in the Odd Couple where they follow a Jade Goody exercise video. Mainly amusing for the Jade Goody impression. Funny
Totals: Funny: Six; Not Funny: Six

Bo' Selecta
Funny Davina snooping on "the dirty Geordie fucking bugger" in the Big Brother house.
Not funny Mr Bear and Cocknose
Funny Martine McCutcheon vomiting
Not funny George Michael's perfect moment (masturbating two men at once)
Funny Michael Jackson in Doing Porridge with Ronnay Barkay
Not funny The Bear with Jonathan Ross
Funny T4 with Vernon 'I'm from Bolton' Kay, Junen Pingpong and Michelle McManus
Not funny Avid with agent Keith Lemon
Not funny Celebrities talking about carpet
Not funny Craig Phillips shagging in a lift
Not funny Craig David Tries To Break America (Again) with the video for Soda Pop
Not funny Avid and Suranne Jones on the Coawrronation Street set
Funny Mel B and Patsy Kensit in The Odd Couple
Not funny The Mork & Mindy pastiche
Funny Marilyn Manson's appreciation of the Mork & Mindy pastiche
Totals – Six sketches were funny; nine sketches were not funny


A Bear’s Tail, Channel 4
What to say if you liked it
A splendid extrapolation into a sitcom of one of Leigh Francis’ most hilarious effigies. The new Harry Enfield?
What to say of you didn’t like it
An appalling waste of acting talent is condemned to blandly play out a derivative script which has been leeched from the most innovative comedy of the 90s.

What was good about it?
• The actors are of a pretty good standard – Sean Pertwee and Yasmin Kerr, while even Davina McCall exhibits decent comic timing – but their thespian luminescence merely exaggerates the dreadful script, and their performances are reminiscent of first-day-at-drama-school roleplays at being a dysfunctional family.
• The foul-ups were almost sheepishly appended to the end to provide some laughs as Dave Ian McCall messed up a line.
• The CGI for the Bear’s “action” sequences was adequate.
• The spoof of mundane American sitcoms where the audience applauds lamely when a familiar character enters the room, and the Bear’s annoyance that people other than him were getting clapped.
• The minotaurs in Emmerdale’s Woolpack.
• Jon Culshaw’s monotone Trevor McDonald is still funny.

What was bad about it?
• The artificial laughter as a parody of US sitcoms could have been a good idea. But such is the low level of laughs, it becomes as desperate and flawed as those shows it seeks to mock.
• The hugely plagiaristic gags pilfered from 90s comedy and then executed with a real professional ineptitude such as when the Bear asked a passer-by what his mother would think if she saw the Bear “kiss his willie”, and the scene then cut to the mother in her living room – it was done, and done much better, in Wayne’s World. Trevor McDonald’s “keep watching as news comes like a tube into my buttocks” was sub-Day Today. And Avid And Sacha, a send-up of cheap European TV, was a poor facsimile of The Fast Show’s Channel 9.
• Semen Street, a Cocknose-presented satire of Sesame Street in which Dermot O’Leary introduced the word “cunna lingus” to the audience, was one of a number of abysmally synthetic puns. Another was the sub-Julian Clary gag when the Bear said to his mum (Patsy Kensit): “I would applaud your entrance,” and then in a Shakespearian aside, “I bet she’s got a lovely entrance.”
• Some jokes you can see coming from so far off you could lay a road, tarmac it and paint on lane markings before it ponderously crawls in.
• There was absolutely no building of characters or situations to be exploited for comic amusement. The characters were tossed up dumbly like clay pigeons to be shot down by a lame joke by the Bear. This, of course, meant there was little life generated for the situations to thrive in and they were soon suffocated anyhow by a dire concoction of crude puns and sporadic, unrelated gags. The worst was when Lillian told the Bear to shut his mouth and the Bear responded by opening his jaws wide and pointing to show how his gob wasn’t shut.
• The cheap Stevie Wonder joke at the end where he appears as a defence witness in the Michael Jackson case. “I didn’t see anything.”
• If you took the Moon out of the sky and becalmed the oceans, then the motionless water would resemble the sea of faces of viewers all around the country.

Avid Merrion’s XXXmas Special, Channel 4, Friday 23 December 2005
Did we like it?
Did the Palestinians welcome the formation of Israel?
What was good about it?
• Having decamped to America, Leigh Francis took the chance to invent some new grotesques. Bill Cosby as Dr Huxtable doing that really annoying dance in the titles for the Cosby Show was humorously parodied.
• The return of Marilyn Manson, voiced as a snooty English aristocrat, taking a trip to see dolphins was going well until the conversation turned to how dolphins have sex and then you could have stuck your fingers in your ears and gained the same pleasure from the next five minutes.
• Lost Interest, a spoof of Lost in which ‘Hurley’ and ‘Charlie’ sit on the beach. Hurley eats bits of the crashed plane, while Charlie gets increasingly bored. Unfortunately, the eulogy was being read after just two sketches.

What was bad about it?
• The breed of celebrity attracted was the kind which occupy the shallower waters of the Hollywood talent pool and float to the surface as corpses should you drop a depth charge of free publicity. Appearing celebrities included: Mini-Me from Austin Powers (the new Gunther from Friends in the field of fame-by-association); Caprice (as emblematic of cheap celebrity as much as wandering stiff-upper-lipped English officers are of deluded ventures to the South Pole); Holly Valance (posters of whom are plastered all over LA, in the same way severed heads mark the territory of cannibals, to ward off future Neighbours nobodies of the perils of thinking you can make it on the back of five minutes acting in a dreadful soap); Mel B; Brigitte Neilsen; Shannen Doherty; and the epitome of Lucifer-fall teen-starlets Corey Feldman.
• Where once the occasional smuttiness was the punchline for the gags, it now overwhelms every pore of the sketches. The worst was the Pamela Anderson “Fuck Doll”, which was vulgar, crass and unfunny.
• The Old Mad Bastards sketch of Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis in a sanatorium was a good idea with no jokes affixed to the initial premise.
• Jon Snow – whatever possessed you to appear in this dross?

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