Lab Rats (TV Series 2008– ) Poster

(2008– )

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Give It a chance.
Jim Goad1 August 2008
I saw Lab Rats for the 1st time last night & was actually quite impressed. I'm surprised it gets such a low rating here.

I thought it was well written & whenever it seemed that an obvious gag was was coming, it actually flipped round & didn't do what I expected. The acting performances by the cast aren't all brilliant but they're certainly better than sitcoms like 'My Family' or the appalling 'After You've Gone' (which bizarrely gets some good reviews on IMDb). I quickly warmed to the characters, who are all a bit quirky in different ways & compliment each other well. I especially liked deadpan Cara & daft Brian. There were plenty of moments when I laughed out loud & Lab Rats actually has something different about it that sets it above the majority of sitcom mulch. It takes elements of shows like 'The Young Ones' & 'Father Ted' without being too derivative. Admittedly, it doesn't reach the same highs as either of those shows but it could develop into something really good in it's own right. I'd rather watch this than ad nauseam re-runs of 'The Good Life' & 'Home To Roost' (it was dull in the 80s. It's dull & dated now).

Basically, I think everyone should give this series a chance. It's a fresh new comedy with good ideas & sometimes it takes time to get used a show in the 1st series when it's still finding it's feet. It took a lot of people a while to get in to 'The Mighty Boosh', 'The League Of Gentlemen' & even 'The Office' when they first started.
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A Comedy Experiment Gone Wrong
rosti-418 July 2008
'Lab Rats' is a new BBC show which started a little over a week ago in the middle of BBC2's "Thursdays Are Funny" evening schedule. I actually had reasonably high hopes for the show, as it sits on the schedule after 'Mock The Week', which is possibly the funniest thing on television right now, and before the superb 'Still Game'. I was hoping that it'd fit into the slot between the shows to create a superb evening of solid comedy. The trailer put the show in good light, and I was somewhat looking forward to it, thinking that it'd replace the now-finished 'Big Bang Theory' as my source of nerd-based comedy each week.

As you've probably guessed by now, it didn't do that at all. There's only been two episodes out of the six-episode series so far, but as of yet it's pretty dire. If it was any worse it'd be so bad that it'd actually be funny, but unfortunately it's stopped just short of that mark in the zone where it is actually just rubbish. Its main problem is that it isn't actually funny. There's no actual comedic substance to the show, and it doesn't try and substitute anything else for it either. There's no superb story to make up for the lack of laughs. The jokes feel reasonably forced, and the one-liners are generally pretty generic and witless. Pretty much the entire premise for the comedy resolves around the absurdity and stupidity of the characters. Firstly, it doesn't really work in a laboratory setting, where one of them is supposedly a Nobel prizewinner. Secondly, it just tends to cheapen everything to being silly, rather than funny. Stupid characters can work to reach brilliant heights in comedy (Father Ted's Dougal and Blackadder's Baldrick, to name two brilliant examples) but when every single character aside from the main one is eccentric and ditsy, it wears thin a little. The formula of having every character being mentally dysfunctional can work, as in 'The IT Crowd', but this show just doesn't seem to have the strength to pull it off in the same way. The IT Crowd is stupid and daft, but in a witty and surreal way that actually does result in a fair few laughs. Lab Rats, on the other hand, is just not written to the same standard.

Something else that really does irritate me about this show as well is the canned laughter. I generally dislike it in shows, but when there are so few actual laughs as in this one, it's almost like it's mocking you. To have the sound of laughter ringing through your ears when watching something that is just not funny is a torment. Sometimes there's laughter at a point where I can't even see how it could be funny. It's like they felt they had a bit of a gap in terms of the audio, so just threw a few laughs in there to fill the space. This show does occasionally have a few moments where it will raise a smile, or perhaps even a slight chuckle, but the fact remains that they are definitely few and far between. I'd suggest to anyone that they should watch 'Mock The Week' and 'Still Game', but they should definitely find something else to occupy the half hour in between. Even if it's just watching their lawn growing. It's not like shows such as 'Catherine Tate', or 'Little Britain', where I can at least see that there's humour there which is just a different flavour to what I would prefer and therefore I don't enjoy it that much. It's actually just a complete lack of any substantial humour whatsoever.

Thursdays on BBC2 is usually a haven for excellent comedy like Mock The Week, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, The Mighty Boosh and That Mitchell & Webb Look, and Lab Rats just doesn't come close to that calibre of TV show. Heck, I wouldn't even place it amongst the shows of lesser stature on BBC3, because it's still letting the side down. Like 'Supernova' (the space one with Rob Brydon) I have no idea why this show got commissioned, and given an instant prime-time BBC2 slot, when far better shows have had to spend months on BBC3 before being promoted to the main channels. Hopefully the people responsible will realise their mistake and won't allow a second series. Or they'll be fired. Either will satisfy me. As a short summary for the article, if you couldn't be bothered reading it all: don't watch it. It's completely rubbish and isn't worth your time.
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Misses the mark badly
persia-424 July 2008
This show appears to be strongly influenced by two '70s comedies, "Doctor in the House" and "The Young Ones." Unfortunately it lacks the charm of the former and the manic mockery of the latter and ends up as forgettable at best.

I really was looking forward to this, I work at a Uni (as an IT person) and I wanted to empathise with the characters, but the "characters" are nothing more than a single concept. With concept characters the actors really have to flesh them out and this isn't happening. There needs to be someone we care about, someone, quirky but normal. Sadly there isn't.
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Utterly Hilarious sitcom
razrose_8626 December 2016
You would have to be an utterly po-faced misery not to find this program hilarious. Chris Addison brings a touch of the absurd and surreal to the premise of a research laboratory. He is ably assisted by an excellent cast, all adding their various quirks to the mix.

I suspect that this series did not find favour with the BBC who consider anything more daring than Dads Army to be beyond the pale. Let us not forget that they did not like Monty Python or Blackadder so their comedy judgement is not always sound.

The series grew in hilarity as it went on and is worth catching up with for the puns alone.
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It was okay, and grew on you.
diayag19 December 2008
The first episode or two were pretty bad; as it went on I thought it improved. I would like to note that the criticism about canned laughter was wrong. On the Fr. Ted DVD Graham Linehan goes into the studio audience "problem" at length - the audience wants to be part of making the show a success, and they laugh too easily. The actors have to wait, timing gets shot and viewers wonder what was so funny. This show reportedly had "live before a studio audience" as an ideal; in practice that does not always make for good comedy. Editors who can put in or take out a hair from a single shot do an extremely good job of editing laughter; if the laughter sounds off, it's probably live.
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Good for a laugh, but at the cast not with them.
cig170524 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
A poor showing, this. I was hoping for something decent: it seemed to be a return to the comedic style of yesteryear when there was no need for swearing or excessively crude jokes and the humour was gentler but just as funny. This show failed to live up to expectations in every respect. The plots seemed to be just that bit too far fetched to allow for suspension of disbelief: the giant snails and Russians with funny names in the first episode, the cryogenically frozen bloke in the second. Good comedies should either still be believable such that even though you know the real Home Guard would never have escorted the Walmington branch's cash in Dad's Army's hilarious fashion, you can believe it because it seems like it could or would happen or they are just so funny that they carry you along with them (the anachronisms in Blackadder, for example). Unfortunately, Lab Rats is able to do neither: the cryogenic chamber, for example, fails to convince in terms of accuracy or positioning (and so stands out too much as an all-too-unlikely plot device) and the resultant jokes don't make you laugh enough to ignore the plot device. Another example is the Dean's pretence at being different on account of her hat: the jokes just don't carry it through. Moreover, the characters, though ably played given the script, don't seem like real life characters: much of the great humour in, for example, the IT Crowd or Dad's Army is that, regardless of one's experience, one knows people just like the characters in terms of personality, if not quite as comedic. However, that does not apply to Lab Rats. Moreover, too many of the characters are not quite mad enough to be lunatics, not quite sane enough to be normal, leaving us with one straight man and the rest somewhere between crazy and said straight man.

Some lines also sound as if they've been pinched: Cara's "Easy come, easy go" comment after her eyesight has been cured and then wrecked by her iris scanner's lasers is suspiciously reminiscent of Jasper Beardley's "Easy come, easy go" comment after having his eyesight cured by a house's security lasers in The Simpsons. Other jokes (e.g. the "gay hair" jokes) just seem puerile and also rule this show out for what should really have been its target market given the humour (children's TV...).

I do hate to write off a new comedy as dull, and it is true that there are some funny moments (e.g. the Dutch Dean's Toblerone in the first episode) but you've as much chance of finding those by watching one minute segments of Lab Rats at random intervals as you have by watching an episode straight through. You're better off watching Harley Street on ITV1: at least that's funny, even if it isn't meant to be...
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Could have been much more...
Deschanel19 July 2008
Lab Rats is a new British Sit-com written by stand-up comedian Chris Addison. It revolves around the life of staff who work in the science lab of a University. It is a broad, and silly comedy, similar in style to recent shows such as 'The IT Crowd'.

Two episodes have aired in the UK so far and unfortunately they have failed to hit the mark. The premise of the show is fine and I can understand how the series was commissioned, but unfortunately it is let down by problems with the writing. Some of the jokes work (and there are some good moments), but overall many of the jokes fail. I can see how some of the writing looks good on paper, but fails to work when the cast deliver on-set. Plus for me there were a few occasions where things just didn't make sense. There were jokes that wouldn't make sense in a stand-up comedy routine and don't make sense in a sit-com. The characters are not brilliant but OK. I think some fine tuning or (maybe just time) would works things out. My favourite character ,'Jo Enright as 'Cara' is a suitable "Kramer" to "Jerry" aka Chris Addison's 'Alex'.

The idea was good but the implementation was unfortunately not so great..
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Is Chris Addison Having a Laugh?
Andreahhh22 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I was really looking forward to "Labrats." Chris Addison has been a part of some of the best radio to come out of Radio 4 in the past while, co-starring and occasionally co-writing in "The Department" with John Oliver and Andy Zalzman, in addition to radio adaptations of his one-man shows "The Ape that Got Lucky" and "Civilzation." Since "Labrats" was co-written and co-starring all of the same people from the latter, I was expecting it to be a little bit brilliant. But this show takes the broader one-off jokes that are background to smart if silly humour, and surrounds entire scenes around them. For example, a quiet suggestion that Addison's hair makes him look like "one of THOSE" in radio, turns into characters calling him "gay hair" repeatedly throughout the first episode.

The delivery is so broad, the audience so annoying (I don't always mind an audience pleasantly tittering away at jokes, but seriously, who APPLAUDS when a character enters a room anymore?) Addison, who is excellent in "The Thick of It" is far more stiff here, but it's hard to notice with so many one-dimensional and overblown characters around him.

I know that Chris Addison is funny, and the setting of an under-funded lab messing about with the laws of nature has potential. (The website for the show is actually hilarious.) So I wonder what exactly went wrong. End of the day, the shows feels like the management-diddled "When the Whistle Blows" from "Extras," only it's real. The upside is, if the reception in "Extras" is any indication, it's bound to be popular, even if it's not good.
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