Did we like it?
Yes, we liked it but also despaired at how emblematic it was of the dearth of innovation in TV. As Eight Out Of Ten Cats finishes it blurs seamlessly into another comedy panel game in the same way as over-hyped Ibiza DJs segue one monochrome tune into the next.
What was good about it?
• David Mitchell was as ever, except in Law of the Playground, utterly hilarious. When Johnny Vaughan described enforced cannibalism as “odd”, Mitchell launched into a diatribe about how cannibalism was something more than just “odd”.
• Alexander Armstrong, the Prince Charles of Have I Got News For You who must be fed up of waiting for his time to ascend to the throne, has decided to spread his wings a bit and get in some practice at hosting a comedy panel show following in the footsteps of rival Dara O’Briain.
• David Mitchell’s exasperation over the woman who claims to live on a diet of just air and light.
• Johnny Vaughan provided a decent foil for Mitchell, although the relationship did seem a little contrived. Vaughan would add a little detail to the questions set by Armstrong, sometimes approaching them from an amusing angle, before Mitchell would lurch in and jovially cut Vaughan’s observation in two.
• Rob Rouse mentioning those great, lost grumpy bastards of British music The Jesus & Mary Chain. Although, he twice blotted his copybook by: (a) calling them Goths, and (b) neglecting to include a joke in his quip.
• David Mitchell’s impression of an airline check-in operator typing loads of pointless details into their computer, and his glowering rage over the notion of a dog translator.
• Johnny Vaughan (who it must be mentioned has stayed off TV just long enough for us to remember why we liked him so much on the Big Breakfast but also to forget the awful ’Orrible and his BBC3 chat show) complaining about how cameras always pan away from violence or pitch invaders at sporting events while the commentators quickly clamber aboard their high horses to righteously patronise both the viewers and the perpetrators, as even harmless streakers are denounced as scum who should be sent to the gas chambers.
What was bad about it?
• Another Friday, another comedy panel game show. It’s now getting like those spectacular vistas you see on natural history programmes of the millions of wildebeest amorphously trudging across the Serengeti plains. Occasionally, a few will be picked off by lions or crocodiles so why can’t we do the same? Gather together all the tired, familiar faces who appear on these shows and tell them they have to travel 300 miles as a herd across the Serengeti. Sure, some will end up as lion food, but that’ll mean less homogenised comedy panel shows can be produced.
• The dreadful theme music; actually it’s not music it’s muzak resembling as it does The Arctic Monkeys’ … Dancefloor as played by soulless session musicians (or if they’re busy, The Feeling) to be played in provincial East Midlands supermarkets while the shoppers are also poisoned by the asbestos-derived cleaning fluids used on the floor and a sense of eternal despair.
• Alexander Armstrong’s awful joke about the Uruguayan rugby team who ate their dead team mates to stay alive after crashing in the mountains. “One surviving player refused to eat a whole one of his dead team mates as he had a nut allergy.”
• Johnny Vaughan’s efforts to mock his own lack of hair as though by shaving his head he has deigned to let the rest of the world know of his baldness when in fact it was obvious about a decade ago.