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|Index||19 reviews in total|
Chris Morris has not, contrary to some people's opinion, failed at
producing a truly inspired piece of work in his latest series "Nathan
Barley". His talent for humour shines through all over the place, and
the show is riddled with almost subliminal jokes. When I watched both
of the two first episodes, I was laughing out loud. This certainly
rivals "Brass Eye" and "The Day Today" and I would personally rate it
above those two.
One thing I will say though is that the people who don't appreciate "Nathan Barley" clearly are the people who find "Friends" funny. There is a lack of the increasingly boring slapstick humour, instead the show is packed with amusing irony and stupid phrases - my favourite: "It's gonna be totally fukin Mexico." I think that Chris and Charlie are onto a winner and avidly await the next four episodes...
Everyone who says that Nathan Barley is trash(bat.co.ck) never known
anyone like Barley or Ashcroft. These days you can not help but be
bombarded by the idiots who are going to inherit the world. I didn't
have to watch this show. All I had to do was go outside of my apartment
in London to see the idiots with massive amount of money and no
For me it wasn't funny watching my life portrayed by Dan Ashcroft who seems to be the only one who sees through the idiots persona. He is the only one who realizes that there is no escape, there is no turning back, there is nothing you can do to avert the rise of the Idiots.
This is a sharp commentary on todays idiot youth. Its funny and to the point. Everyone should watch it and see if they know any 'Idiots'
I am a big fan of Chris Morris' previous work and was looking forward
to this show. Having watched it I think that it will split fans of
Morris. I however think this show is absolutely hilarious, the
surrealness of it makes it a very enjoyable programme. The lead
character of Nathan is so annoying, yet you have to laugh as we all on
people who are like him, and just like in real life we laugh at their
pathetic attempt to be the most hip person around.
More often than not it is the subtle things that you notice that draw the biggest laughs, unlike Morris' Brass Eye special on paedophiles. Although it is not what many people expect, I think that it is up there with Morris' best work. If you are unsure about it, watch it on your own and make up your own mind.
It's always a shame when you get fans who won't allow an artist to move
Chris Morris is back with new TV show called Nathan Barley, and of course it's absolutely wonderful... And of course yet again decidedly splits the Morris fan base.
Do not expect The Day Today or Brass Eye or Jam or anything like his previous work... Do expect classic Morris humour and observations on society weaved around the classic half hour sitcom format centring on the truly hateful Nathan Barley, a "self-facilitating media node" first found in co-writer Charlie Brooker's "TV Go Home", and the people in his life.
It's full of tiny subtle touches that welcome repeated viewing, is brilliantly shot and edited, and has some of the finest music ever to grace a sitcom. (a mixture of great songs and an extreme form of electronica which of course Morris had a hand in concocting).
In the opinion of this humble reviewer Morris remains a genius satirist, one who doesn't see any value in repeating himself and continues to push and develop his art into new forms. It's a great shame more people didn't get it.
Bring on the DVD release and a second series...
I AM NOT THE PREACHER MAN
A lot of people will argue that Chris Morris has gone off the boil.
Perhaps he has, but his sense of satire is still sharper than anyone.
Before he had great success spoofing media sensationalism of current
affairs with the groundbreaking BrassEye and years before that The Day
Today (with Steve Coogan). Here he takes it a step further and spoofs
London journo scenesters, always trying to stay ahead of the pack with
the next trend and fad.
It follows the career of struggling columnist Dan Ashcroft, a semi-intellectual trapped between the idiots he works with and a more astute crowd and a man who epitomises everything that Dan hates about his life - his biggest disciple - Nathan Barley. From the first episode it lays out Dan's dilemma and as the series unfolds shows us why he isn't so very different from the people he hates and is surrounded by, perhaps that he is in some way responsible for them. A philosophical tale that everyone can relate to on some level.
Whether this is an accurate spoof I can't tell, as I don't know anyone of the crowd Morris pokes fun at here so mercilessly. On my third and fourth viewings I still try to decide whether the writing is minimalist genius or just lazy. But for some reason it is humorous and believable... you can imagine tabloid writers sitting round a meeting table surrounded by office toys, desperately trying to "outcool" the next paper by spawning meaningless catchphrases and reviewing supposed artists who are nothing more than shameless fools. Whether it's happened yet, or it's a prediction of the sort of culture we're heading towards, it certainly entertains and forces questions about the way we perceive and are led by mass media. 8/10
Chris Morris advances on the agitprop satire of Brass Eye, and the
ambient weirdness of Jam, with the wonderfully caustic and gleefully
vicious Nathan Barley. As others have noted, 'Barley' is probably
Morris's most-subtle creation yet... a seemingly conventional sitcom
about life in the world of the media, with cutting edge magazine
publishers, idolised DJ's, crusading digital filmmakers and
techno-wiz-kids all standing in as the centre of attention, complete
with their own annoying txt-speak characteristics, daft costumes,
anti-establishment opinions and ever-so-trendy idiosyncrasies. However,
the joke here is not what is written into the scripts (though, more
often than not, this is incredible funny), but rather, the notion that
these kind of characters - which do exist in real life - will no doubt
buy into the whole joke, watching each episode eagerly before going
into the office the next day to confront their friends and co-workers
with the usual one-liners.
Morris, writing here alongside Charlie Brooker, is to television what Luke Haines is to pop music... someone who can work within the confines of an industry, gathering acclaim and a legion of devoted fans, whilst simultaneously trying to bring said industry down from the inside!! Morris and Brooker seem to have a genuine contempt for the characters that they write about, and - as with Brass Eye and The Day Today - the joke sometimes becomes so scathing and so accurate, that you actually forget that you're watching a satire (a notion continued by Morris's faux-edgy directorial style, which has swerving hand-held cameras and random zooms to, I would hope, rip the pip out of all of these trendy new TV shows that want be challenging - in a Dogme-style sense - so bad, they can practically taste it!!). Some of the media pastiches are fantastic too, like the so-chic it hurts art gallery that consisted of nothing more than pictures of celebrities urinating, or the Russian underground website, which includes pay-per-view downloadable clips of "tramp marathons" and tooth-pulling competitions, complete with armed police threatening anyone refusing to take part with assault rifles and teargas.
The madness of the show works because Morris and Brooker tend to anchor the shows to the character of Dan (The Preacher Man) Ashcroft, a cynical and fairly down-to-earth sort, who seems at odds with the backslapping and self-congratulatory cretins who populate his office. As a result, the jokes work because we can relate to Dan's anguish at being celebrated by these fools, who find humour in irreverent spreads on child molestation, have chainsaw ring tones and have a unhealthy habit of composing raps while they get it on with the opposite sex (Nathan's seduction of Claire is absolute comedy genius... "yeah, well plastic, man!!"). My favourite gag would have to be Dan unintentionally creating a new trendy hair-style when he falls asleep under the paint table. "What's it called?" asks Nathan. "Errr... Geek Pie" replies Dan. Cut to Nathan on Japanese TV promoting said hair-style without a shard or irony or good humour.
Most of the jokes work on multiple levels, often acting as an out-and-out parody of the kind of pretentious, novelty, tabloid-bating nonsense that seems to be continually spat out of these nu-media outlets (digital television, on-line publishing, underground advertising, or remnants of the shallow mid-nineties art scene, etc)... but then, there's also the integration of the characters, the disgust and contempt that Dan has for his colleagues, and the sheer genius of the word play used by these bizarre caricatures (typical Barley invitation, "you should come doll snatch, it's gonn'a be Mexico!!"... all this and more from the man who gave us "fact me till I fart"). The cast is great, padded out with characters form The Mighty Boosh and the brilliant Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, so you know the timing and delivery will be pitch perfect and the plausibility spot on.
Nathan Barley may not scale the comedic highs of Morris's more on-the-nose satires like The Day Today and Brass Eye, but it is, nonetheless, very funny, not just in the way the jokes are constructed, but in the believability and plausibility of the characterisations and the recreation of that kind of self-conscious, self-styled universe. Morris (and Brooker) should be commended for taking a risk with this serious, creating something that almost passes for a normal sitcom, but with that much loved/much needed Morris contempt always lurking, just beneath the surface.
I came to Nathan Barley one Friday night totally by accident, as i am usually out and about on weekend nights. I stumbled on it and was immediately sucked in by their world. It may have got the lowest ratings channel 4 have ever received on a Friday night, but its popularity in DVD format shows its cult following. HMV (Leeds)sold out in their first week and had to re-order another 200 or so due to unexpected sales. The comedy depicts an image-conscious world where most of the characters are working in the media spectrum, either in newspapers (Dan Ashcroft), documentaries (Claire Ashcroft) or in websites/music or anything else he can get his idiotic hands into (aka Nathan Barley). The show is the typical 6 episodes. It centres mainly around the 'friendship' between Nathan Barley and Dan Ashcroft. Barley loves Ashcroft and wants to be just like him (e.g. copying haircut, salmon/scrambled egg coffee) but Dan Ashcroft despises him for being 'the King of the Idiots' and for wanting to sleep with his sister. Just as Dan seems to be winning his little personal duel against Barley, things go wrong for him. The comedy is layered and warrants multiple watches. I have watched 'The Mighty Boosh' last week to see what all the fuss was about. I personally believe Nathan Barley to be a far better comedy. More development of characters, better use of language, more money spent on design, interesting take on London society. Futuristic yet still very accessible, i recommend Nathan Barley to anyone. Even my dad managed a few laughs. It has catchphrases and songs, and games (Barley's take on paper, scissors, stones) and slogans (Suga Rape)and a high number of laughs per minute. It is worth buying the DVD just for the booklet of stencils and slogans and 'political comments' which accompanies it. Futures yeah! Would have been nice if Vince Noir (off 'the Mighty Boosh') had been given a better part. If Peep Show was the comedy of 2004, in the words of Ricky Gervais, perhaps Nathan Barley will end up being the new comedy of 2005. Believe.
Before I watched this series on DVD, I was wondering why there were so many bad reviews by fans of Chris Morris. But now I kind of understood the reason why. Because the story is pretty much about Chris Morris himself; a caricature of what he has achieved and people who appreciate his comedy. Chris Morris's followers are all despised in there. The person who you believe is your 'Preacher Man' now tells you he is an 'Idiot'.....who could instantly appreciate such things? From 'On the Hour 'to 'Blue Jam', he had been making, topical , but more and more excessive humour to the point that no one can really laugh out loud. (Oh, please, is there anyone who's cracked up with the joke about a man who kept committing suicide?) Those jokes are just like Nathan's trashbat.co.ck and what his people find 'COOL'. By watching this sitcom, one could guess a bit about his inner thoughts when he received all those praises and admiration on his works. He might have been in a gridlock because how deviantly he went, no one said no to him and the way out was to ridicule himself in the exactly same way as he did previously. I think Nathan Barley is a natural step for a comic genius like Chris Morris. I really loved it. Glad to purchase this DVD.
One of the most important things about comedy is, in my opinion, the
characters. If you don't feel a certain amount of emotion, whatever
kind it may be, for the characters within a comedy, it's not worth
watching it and it's boring. All of the characters in Nathan Barley you
can feel something for.
The first character that I felt a kind of affinity with was Claire, the young aspiring film maker with sass and a kind heart. And her brother Dan, trying to keep his head above water whilst swimming in a sea of idiots and failing miserably because of his extreme lack of assertiveness and initiative. His character you can only feel sorry for up to a certain point before you realize that he has brought most of his misfortunes on him self.
There's also a funny thing about Nathan Barley as a character. At times he certainly falls into the demographic of "the idiot" and even quite a horrible person, but at other times you are forced to almost feel sorry for him, while at the same time remembering if he wasn't an idiot he wouldn't have gotten him self into the mess in the first place. There's something lovely about all of the character in this series, something we can all relate to, laugh at and bond with.
In a way they have hit the nail on the head with the culture in every city society that is coming to light over the past few years. The wearing of tight jeans, huge sunglasses, huge white running shoes, fluro off the shoulder t-shirts and probably the most pointless, the cross over of meaningless web sites into real life clubbing culture. I'd like to call this show a spoof, but that would somehow cheapen it and I don't want to do that. Watch it and make up your own mind on what genre, if any, it is.
Personally I thought it was brilliant as I like to laugh at the little things in a comedy show. The little throw away sentences that not everyone would pick up on, the slight look of a disgruntled character or an extras dressed a certain way in the back ground. If you like to laugh at those little details, then this show is certainly for you. It is also for you if you like what I refer to as 'cringe worthy comedy.'
Probably the first "sitcom" i can think of that achieved this was Faulty Towers. You felt something for Basil, even if he was a prat, and therefore found your self cringing at the scenes in which he embarrassed him self or the scenes in which he got physically hurt. Another show that's like this is The Office. David Brent is another character you find your self not liking too much, but almost wishing when you watch it the second time around that he wouldn't embarrass him self and say what you know he is going to say.
Nathan Barley is the same kind of thing and you'll find your self feeling sorry for many of the characters, while at the same time disliking them immensely. Comedy is an awfully emotion thing, and this is one of the most emotional comedies around at the moment.
Opinions are mixed about Nathan Barley - suffice to say, if you expect
Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker to re-hash their earlier work and be
satisfied then you've misunderstood their ethos (wheras I'm guessing at
it - but at least I'm making an effort!!)
It's not Brasseye or TV Go Home, and why would it be? They're done, they exist and we can watch/read them.
The target for their humour might be narrow, but it works from a city-dweller perspective - and as I recall from my youth, there's always stupid trend-focused fools in villages too!
I loved it - you might? But it's not Jam or Brasseye, or TV Go Home or Charlie's Guardian columns (although I *would* like to see Charlie getting proper spleen-venting exposure!).
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