A light-hearted look at the final week before doomsday. American President Johnny Cyclops is trying to run a re-election campaign while dealing with the Russians, a deposed Shah needing to ...
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A light-hearted look at the final week before doomsday. American President Johnny Cyclops is trying to run a re-election campaign while dealing with the Russians, a deposed Shah needing to be hidden, and a new weapon called a 'quark' bomb. Meanwhile, Lacrobat, the infamous terrorist, has stolen one of the quark bombs and is trying to get it into the Middle East. Stopping Lacrobat, getting the Shah to safety, placating the Russians and winning the election will require a brilliantly planned and perfectly executed strategy on the part of President Cyclops... Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
"If the Lord had meant us not to panic, he wouldn't have given us clean trousers!"
This is a real rarity from the early eighties when the 'alternative' comedy boom still had a strong satirical element and had yet to degenerate into juvenile playground humour. Andrew Marshall and David Renwick, the authors of this brilliant series, were obviously both very interested in - and experts at - the fine art of subverting television from within, and WHOOPS is rooted in the tradition of their early work with Spike Milligan and the little-known ITV series END OF PART ONE in that it contains beautifully observed and often startling spoofs on all aspects of television presentation (the inane underwear commercial that pops up in the middle of a serious news bulletin is my favourite, but the topless newsreader is equally hard to forget) that are all the more memorable for being placed within the context of an essentially 'serious' sitcom. The series is a manic, frantically surreal, extremely anarchic and very busy black satire on international politics, presenting a world not far removed from reality in which the President is a former B-movie actor, the British PM is insane, the Russian premier keeps dying and being replaced by lookalikes, international terrorists create ingenious havoc wherever they roam and diplomatic incidents threaten global unity apparently every ten seconds. It's also a world where a malfunctioning Space Invaders machine can trigger a nuclear alert, so that should give you some idea of just how wacked-out and deranged the satire we're discussing here really is.
Although obviously quickly made on a very tight budget and decades ahead of its time (television still hasn't really caught up with the breakneck pace of this show), WHOOPS is a memorable experience that really deserves a DVD release and a long overdue critical reappraisal. The crowning jewel of the series is undoubtedly the brilliant casting, as it's full of instantly recognizable faces, such as Geoffrey Palmer, the "I didn't get where I am today" boss from the REGINALD PERRIN series, Mr Price from PLEASE SIR, Mr O'Rielly from FAWLTY TOWERS, Alexei Sayle (in a startling wig), Richard Griffiths of WITHNAIL AND I fame, Leonard from BUTTERFLIES and countless others. This is very hard to find, but a couple of videotapes exist, so good luck in tracking them down! A feature film version was made in 1986 that's also worth checking out, even if it's a pale imitation of the lunatic heights scaled by the original series.
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