Jonathan Pryce and Mark Gatiss in a new sitcom on BBC3? We sat down in eager anticipation, and 30 minutes later, got up feeling intensely disappointed and frustrated. A high concept plot about a failed experiment to create a super-soldier, three or four good lines and an intrusive laughter track do not add up to a decent new sitcom. This first production from Ash Atalla’s (The Office) new production company was a real disappointment – and Pryce looked embarrassed to be in it.
What was good about it?
• Mark Gatiss as Colonel Black commandeered the vast majority of decent lines – we loved him asking Victor questions then talking over his answers, whilst observing, “You talk too slowly Victor, always have.”
• The opening scene, where Doctor Victor Blenkinsop (Pryce) and his assistant Ian (Oliver Maltman), dressed as shop workers, stride through a Tesco Metro to their underground lab whilst avoiding customers, was probably the funniest scene. Especially the slapstick of the old lady’s zimmer frame flying through the air after Victor has pulled over bottles of lemonade into her path.
What was bad about it?
• Stuart McLoughlin as the inept, wimpy klutz of a clone was intensely irritating from the moment he was introduced.
• Whoever thought a laughter track was a good idea needs shooting. Especially when the laughs coincide with monumentally unfunny lines. All this served to do was highlight how poor the writing was.
• Clearly, the acting budget had been blown on Gatiss and Pryce, as absolutely no-one else was remotely convincing.