Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Sound of Music twice an hour, and Jaws One Two and Three

I haven't watched very much TV over the Christmas holidays, which might explain the following alarming statement: The best thing I've seen on telly lately was "The One Ronnie". To celebrate his eightieth birthday, Ronnie Corbett stars in a show full of Two-Ronnies-style sketches with a lot of comedians from the present day. And it worked! It was genuinely funny all the way through, and perfectly in the classic style. It was like watching a brand new Two Ronnies Christmas special, and not even noticing the absence of Ronnie Barker! Harking back to the glory days of British comedy (you know, the days when saying "bottom" guaranteed a huge laugh from the audience), it was great entertainment.

Which made it all the more surprising that Matt Lucas and David Walliams, who were among the guest stars in that show, have come up with something so terrible as their new series "Come Fly With Me". I'm not sure if it's harking back to the glory days of British racism, or to the glory days of fly-on-the-wall documentaries being new enough that you can parody them in original ways, but it didn't really work. There just aren't enough jokes about budget airlines to fill a whole series, and so a lot of scenes derive all their humour from the two actors in blackface, talking in silly accents. Very strange programme.

As for Doctor Who, it was pretty good. On the one hand, if you're reduced to doing "A Christmas Carol" for your Christmas special, it's probably time to give up, but on the other hand this episode did do some interesting and clever things with the concept of time travel. I've been wanting to see this for quite some time - Doctor Who is a programme about a man with a time machine, but the new series doesn't really get to grips with that idea. When the Doctor travels to a different time, it's treated as if he's just gone down the road to another place. Probably the fault of the insistence on having continuing subplots running through each season, but it's nice to see some actual use of the Tardis in this one. (Yes, the Doctor does things that he's specifically said in earlier episodes that he's not allowed to do, but I don't care.) And the time-travel logic more or less made sense all the way through, give or take, sort of.

Now, the best way to write about time travel is demonstrated in the awesome movie I saw on the plane coming back from China - "Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel". It's absolute genius, and I don't know why I'd never heard of it before now. I obviously need to spend more time hanging out on nerdy websites.


Anonymous said...

David Walliams and Matt Lucas thought up, produced and wrote The One Ronnie/

Sam said...

I just went to my Lovefilm account to rent FAQ Time Travel on your enthusiastic recommendation and realised that I've already seen it - it's a brilliant film! Much underrated.

If Walliams and Lucas did write the One Ronnie it just goes to show how much of a difference a decent and likeable performer like Corbett can make.

Zoomy said...

Just for the record, I should say that I normally really love Matt Lucas and David Walliams in everything they do. "Come Fly With Me" is the first time I've been disappointed with them...