Morally dubious at times, but a show that was guaranteed to get a few laughs
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
Host Mark Dolan challenges a bunch of comedians trying to make a break-through to perform a variety of daring and sometimes dangerous stunts to amuse the public. At the end of each show, the audience votes for the act they think it took the most 'balls' to perform and the winner receives the BOS trophy.
Staged comedy is all well and good. It certainly takes up most of TV's airtime and over the years has given TV most of it's comedy gold. But surely the most humorous stuff is when the reaction of the fall guy is real and everything going on is genuine? This is the idea Balls of Steel tries to peddle, although there's been a fair bit of speculation as to whether indeed it is real or simply faked. Sometimes the presence of cameras in dubious places does get you thinking, and sometimes goofs on the part of people supposedly in on it all along do so also, but a lot of the time the reactions do appear genuine, satisfying enough for this reviewer anyway.
There are a few daring but ultimately harmless acts going on, such as Alex Zane's nonsensical game shows and acts where the participant's only harm themselves, such as Pritchard and Pancho, but sadly a lot of the humour is very twisted and cruel, and in some cases downright anti-social. If it is all being staged, then this might relieve some of the unpleasantness but it's sold on the basis that it's real, so...
As a presenter Dolan does give you the impression of carrying a false sense of superiority, like he sneers down at those who don't talk like him or don't have the same background as him, but is never directly, Angus Deayton snobby and this is pretty much the high-point of his career anyway, so...
It's all basically a UK spin on Jackass, built on the premise of real humour being more amusing than staged humour. It's onto something with this, but it doesn't spare the morally downbeat tone at it's heart. ***
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