REVIEW / Seeing the funny inside of the mating game

'FOR THOSE who've enjoyed the natural process of falling in love,' said Desmond Morris, 'it's the end of the long courtship sequence.' And for those aroused by the natural process of watching BBC trailers, you thought. The long courtship sequence over, we were at last going to get the intercourse sequence, already well publicised as offering the first internal view of a female orgasm.

Internal views of male orgasms? Been there, seen that. David Attenborough narrated his way through one of those murky explosions a good few years back, in a Scandinavian documentary about foetal development. The Morris version was a bit like an airbag going off inside a crimson pup-tent, something of a white- out after the first few microseconds, but I have to confess that the female orgasm was a startling thing to watch, the cervix clenching and expanding like a pupa doing a Meg Ryan impression.

We also saw the first film of killer sperm fighting off rivals, which made two genuine novelties inside two minutes, a rather breathtaking acceleration after some 48 minutes of ambling commonplaces. Because, for the most part, The Human Animal is the most engagingly risible series the BBC has broadcast for a good few years, its innate comedy (man as animal has a distinguished satirical history) perfectly distilled by the innocent deadpan of Morris, a man so intent on watching everybody else that he can't see how ridiculous he looks himself.

A less earnest man might have been wary of asking 'Why have we abandoned the eight-second mating act of the typical baboon?', conscious that it might prompt raucous female laughter from the back of the hall. A man less dogged in pursuit of theory might have decided to rephrase the information that 'careful research in certain nightclubs has revealed that the closer girls are to the moment of ovulation the skimpier their costume will be', aware that the mental picture this prompted might not be entirely consistent with scientific dignity. The high-court solemnity of 'certain nightclubs' was a touch of comic genius.

But Morris obviously hasn't got a clue that anyone might find this funny; he's too busy translating the obvious into vaguely scientific language. Very vague sometimes - discussing late adolescence, Morris noted that 'all over the world young adults can be observed gathering together in large informal groups'. 'Gosh, just like wildebeest,' I suppose you were meant to think, but if you actually did any thinking the sentence evaporated like aerosol cream. It was, in any case, almost instantly contradicted by film showing young adults gathering in highly formal groups.

When Morris sidled in front of a graffitied wall dressed in a flasher's mackintosh, my tenuous grip on a straight face finally collapsed and I began to utter the strange barking yelps so characteristic of the primeval derision display. Instinct and biology will out.

Sync or Swim (C4), Kate Bannatyne's film about synchronised swimming, had to be cautious about the ridiculous too. She was right not to go for the easy laughs but there were times when she seemed to have strayed a little too far in the other direction, delivering something too much on its best behaviour. This dulled the pleasure a little - it's possible, after all, to be amazed and even amused by the sport without being snotty about those who take part in it. But, apart from one sly shot of judges tapping their toes to a Grease medley, Bannatyne wasn't taking any risks: 'Why do you need nose clips?' she asked solemnly at one point, which was as dumbly ingenuous as asking a polo- player whether the pony helps at all.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory