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Has enough hits of imagination and wit to cover the weaker characters and worthless laughter track
Coming off the brilliant Peep Show to do something new was never going to be an easy task for David Mitchell and Robert Webb simply because of how brilliant Peep Show was. Their sketch show came to BBC2 at the same time as the new series of Extras in an apparent attempt to draw success from that. The ploy seems to have worked in getting viewers in the door but it is the material that has to do the work of keeping them and, as such, this is a pretty good "Look" because it has sufficient laughs across each 25 minute period to do the business.
As with any sketch show it is very hit and miss but it has more hits than misses. The type of humour will appeal to those who liked Peep Show because it is imaginative and quite clever, almost drawing laughs from me by surprise. This can be seen in some of the best characters in the way that they are plucked out of the air and are all touched by a wonderful sense of absurdity that makes them work so well. Angel Summoner, Sir Digby Chicken-Caesar and a few others are good examples because they just seem to come out of nowhere rather than being slight extensions of clichés or stereotypes. Conversely then the weakest characters do rely on these things and by this I mean the snooker commentators. Out of all the characters they seem to have been selected to run across each episode and sadly they are just not very funny after the first outing. Numberwang is also a bit tiresome and it would have been better if they had taken the rip out of gameshows in other ways. Likewise some of the weaker moments are so because they do lack the imagination of the strongest bits and thus we get simple spoofs on political panel shows as well as insurance adverts.
Mitchell and Webb play really well off one another and each has a type of character that he is strongest in. Mitchell is strongest playing the rather hesitant loser a bit like his Peep Show character and the best sketches tend to have him in that sort of role. Webb meanwhile tends to be the slightly lesser of the pair if only because he seems inherently less comic looking than Mitchell. However he is still good when he has the material to work with and his chemistry with Mitchell helps him a great deal. The supporting players are mostly good and include Joseph, Colman and Evans. The only weak addition to the show is that of the audience themselves or rather the recorded laughter, because it kills the material by making the weak stuff seem weaker and the stronger stuff a bit, well, desperate. I don't need to be told when to laugh and all the laughter track here seemed to do was stand out awkwardly particularly when the material wasn't funny at all yet still got massive recorded laughter.
Overall though, a good sketch series. The regular imaginative flights of fancy helps it keep above the level of easy cliché or relying on catchphrases to do the business. Of course the downside of this is that they don't enjoy as much easy success at the moment but they are best to keep it this way since their selection of "regular" characters is mostly surprisingly weak. The pair do mostly good work though and the series is well worth catching because when they hit their imagination and wit is funny and surprising in delivery.
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