|Index||4 reviews in total|
Forget Catherine Tate, Two pints of lager and Little Britain, this is
Do not not expect slapstick, this is the art of observational understatement. Nobody could play this part better than Jack Dee.
Rick Spleen is the slightly paranoid Brit, lacking a bit of confidence but willing to nick anybodies good idea and shamefully claim the credit. When he's invariably found out he's the little boy who's been caught red-handed and desperately looks for any excuse no matter how improbable to justify his actions. Marty is his writing partner, the up and at-em American egging him on, pushing Rick further than he wants to go knowing it will get him into trouble. As ever its the women who are the moral compasses, his other half Mel and Magda the East European housekeeper.
A couple of the characters could be fleshed out. Without doubt Magda has more to offer than the "you think that's bad, its worse in my country" caricature and just why is ex-city banker Michael running a cafe selling pasta and brown rice? Give it a go, you will not be disappointed.
Lead Balloon is something like a British version of Curb Your
Enthusiasm, although toned down for British sensibilities. But the core
is almost exactly the same. Jack Dee plays Rick Spleen, a comedian
whose career isn't going as well as it might. The show is mostly about
his home and personal life (the kitchen is a staple location), and how
he blunders into embarrassing scrapes because of his vaguely
It shares the same starting-at-your-fingernails cringe rating as sitcoms such as The Office too, and is less a situation comedy than a 'personality comedy' -- typically the show will wind up with the camera fixated on Dee, as he comes to a sticky end because of his actions.
In many ways this style of sitcom is nothing new. Social faux pas has been a staple of British sitcoms since Terry and June, or The Good Life. What's developed here is the degree of character assassination, which is inherited from The Office or Steve Coogan's shows. Sadly, the only character with any depth is Dee's, and the show sometimes feels like a vehicle for him. The character of Spleen's wife, in particular, makes little sense, and seems to be there simply as a sounding board for Dee's character; at least June Whitfield sometimes got a funny line to say.
While The Office was funny because it was so plausible (and familiar), this sitcom set "behind the curtain" of the media world is less so. Still, there are some very well observed touches, such as Rick Spleen's daughter and her boyfriend, who somehow epitomise modern youth, with their complete self-interest.
The second series is better than the first, but one can still feel comedy cogs grinding against each other. Somehow it doesn't quite work. Ultimately it's a very thin soup. It's not enough to throw characters into an embarrassing situation and watch what happens.
This isn't your big, flashy, three camera sitcom. This is something
entirely different, at least in the UK, and so much better for it.
Jack Dee is at his deadpan best in this role, carrying a show that isn't afraid of leaving you curling up in embarrassment, and yet we root for his character along the way.
Sharply written and deftly performed, this show won't be for everyone, especially those brought up in this modern era where a joke is not a joke unless the word sex is mentioned somewhere on route to the punch line. However, for those who stick with it they'll find 30 mins of entertainment.
Rick Spleen (Jack Dee) is a married middle-income comedian but finds
that life rarely goes right for him or makes him happy.
Jack Dee is a one note comedian whose one joke is to look cynically at life and all the strange customs it entails. So it is no surprise that this comedy sees him as a sourpuss comedian (although we don't see him perform on-stage) who doesn't like much about modern life and finds lots to complain about.
From the first few episodes the formula is clearly set in stone. Something small goes wrong and in an attempt to solve the problem Spleen makes things worse and worse. The old "drowning man" scenario - the more he thrashes the deeper down in to the water he goes.
A regular crew of characters come and go (usually after taking from him) although he has a nice show biz wife who (in the custom of sitcom) spouts the common-sense that, if followed, would prevent the show being made in the first place!
The problem is that this is one of those micro-joke comedies. There is nothing to laugh at, although you might grunt a few times and desperation of the script is often exposed. Would you want to hurt somebody just to save yourself some money (you'll have to watch the show to fully understand), only a horrible person would do that!
Like his offbeat comedian college - Rick Gervais - he is not really an actor, so he just stands there and delivers the line without stress or feeling. At times he sounds like a speak-your-weight machine.
He has a horrible daughter (Sam) who only appears to cadge money through emotional blackmail - who tags along the kind of boyfriend that you fear. Thankfully Spleen is too far up his own backside to know that he is being taken for a ride and the child always gets her prize.
Comedians are often not funny off-stage. Many times the product of a long hard struggle where money was tight and friends are spaced out. It is a loners profession. Spleen is just not that funny off-stage (is he any good on?) - indeed most of the good lines are actually spoken by others.
Jack Dee is a lucky comedian - he came along at a time when his cynical lines where lapped up by an equally cynical audience. Here he is just a fall guy for everyone and anything and not the sharp one-liner guy that would be much more magnetic and watchable.
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