Amusing but lacking the imagination, wit and development I had hoped for
It has been quite some time since Armstrong and Miller bowed out of their Channel 4 season with a wonderfully rude season climax. So it was a pleasant surprise to me to find them reunited on BBC on the Friday evening. Watching it gave me the feeling that they are in the right slot and channel for their material now because it is a little dark but never in a challenging or offensive manner. It is funny without being hilarious and it is "different" without really risking drifting off the mainstream.
Each episode consistently tickled me and I did enjoy it but confess that at times the lack of really big laughs did bug me. The bigger problem for me though was the material and the characters. After the first two episodes we had pretty much seen all the characters that the series had to offer and had seen them do "their thing". What I mean by this is that I quickly came to understand that in each sketch the divorced dad is going to shock his son with blunt truth delivered in a cheerfully naïve way, the café owners would squabble then fight their customers, the grey little man would come home to find his wife and boss in a compromising situation and so on and so forth. Now having characters that live off the same concept sketch after sketch is not a new idea and indeed this is what all sketch shows work with. However there is a difference between working off a concept and just repeating the same joke in every sketch and unfortunately A&M do more of the latter and less of the former.
The divorced dad is a good example of what they do well as they use this basic concept but do different jokes each week, working the concept but not just repeating what they did before verbatim. The café women are an example of the opposite as each sketch is pretty much identical to the one before and they seem to have nowhere to go with it. In truth most of the sketches and characters fall somewhere in the middle, which is still not very good but at least is amusing enough to put me in a forgiving mood. It is surprising to me to be saying it but I was looking for so much more imagination and wit from them and too often it just isn't there.
Amusing and fun enough to work within a mainstream channel at a mainstream time but I did go away wanting for more. The sketches and characters too often fail to grow or be used, with some of them just flatly being repeats of the same joke, sketch after sketch with no discernible difference. Mostly though it is distracting and amusing I just hoped for more was all.
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