Bad comedy is a peculiar thing, isn't it? Watching it is rather like looking at the emperor's new clothes – slightly uncomfortable, more than a little embarrassing, with the lurking dread that maybe it isn't them at all who's at fault, but you, you and your own lame-arsed sense of humour.
Disclaimers aside, I think we can all agree on one thing: BBC2's spoof-adventure Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire is definitely not funny. Worse: it's boring. Had the emperor walked out wearing it, no one would have been fooled, though they may have had a few laughs, which is more than I got last night.
Basically, Kröd, for reasons unknown, is on a mission to free General Arcadius (no, me neither) who's been imprisoned by the evil emperor (him again!) for some or other reason. Of course, Kröd – played somewhat improbably by the Nineties pin-up Sean Maguire - isn't alone. With him he brings a hapless band of conspirators: Zezelryck the warlock, doing his best Eddie Murphy impression, Aneka the knickerless warrior princess who'd rather be stripping than duelling (incidentally, the only female character. Thanks for the thought, guys!) and Loquasto, half-man, half-pig. Or, possibly, just suffering from some kind of swine flu.
Speaking of emperors, what's Matt Lucus doing playing this one? He's actually funny, the only decent thing in it. I wonder if he gets to write his own lines? I could've sworn the script improved considerably when he appeared, playing a David Brent-inspired dictator, out to claim the blood of Maguire's Kröd. I don't know about you, but as far as I'm concerned the sooner he does, the better. Though I won't be sticking around in the meantime. Next!
Ah. Another prime-time comedy from the BBC. Brace yourselves, fun-lovers. Actually, this one isn't bad. It may not be Peep Show, but give me That Mitchell and Webb Look over Kröd and his (not-so)-merry men any day. The problem I've always had with sketch shows is the transparency of the thought process. The really great ones are either so extremely astute as to poke fun at something everyone can recognise but no one's noticed, or they're so left-field as to be absurd.
Not too worry. Last night delivered, on the whole. It wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible, either, and it was a considerable improvement on the rather mediocre first two series. We could, probably, have done without the door-bell replacing, dog-firing cannon, but the hopeless spooks with their floating duck disguises and newspaper peepholes were laugh-out-loud funny, as was the competitive dinner-party chat between rocket scientist and brain surgeon, though I think my favourite would have to be the poor community-support policeman who's ridiculed for being unable to commit police brutality, only, you guessed it, "community support brutality". I wonder if that happens? Probably.
No such one-upmanship in May Contain Nuts, ITV's two-part adaptation of the John O'Farrell novel and the final mainstream comedy offering of the night. Oh, who am I kidding? It's Clapham for goodness sake, of course it's competitive. What else do you expect from life in London's most bourgeois suburb? This is Keeping Up Appearances ("don't say what darling, say pardon, we're speaking French") for the New Labour generation. Or should that be New Tory? I've lost track. Talking of Tories, this was pretty funny: one of the families had a "scare-chav" (something to do with a scarecrow; it isn't important) whose face, according to Mum, "looked like a startled child". Cue Dad: "Yes, we modelled it on Cameron." Not Dave, though, their son, Cameron. Ba-boom-chh. Mm. Perhaps you had to be there?
Anyway, in Clapham, it's very important indeed that your child goes to Clapham School for Girls, even if it means dressing up as your daughter to do the exam. Under no circumstances do you want them to end up at Clapham Comprehensive, with all its underage sex, and drugs and, you know, equality otherwise – who knows? – they might end up working street corners in exchange for heroin, or something like that.
And so proceeds ITV's version of what might loosely be termed satire (I'm sure that's what the writers think it is anyway). Except that it's not really satire, is it? There are plenty of wink-wink-nudge-nudge-look-how-silly-modern-parents-are moments but it's all a bit hammy and ornate; there's no bite to speak of. And isn't the whole laughing-at-the-middle-classes-with-their-organic-lollypops-and-vegetarianism a bit predictable now? It's been done. And done, and done...
At any rate, these particular organic lollypop-eaters were far too annoying to warrant their own show, especially Alice (it's not in the name, honest), with all her bubble-wrap popping and wide-eyed whinging, though the other mums were just as bad. My vote goes to Alice's cross-dressing son. At least he's got character. But aside from Dave's fleeting cameo, there wasn't a joke to speak of. Just lots and lots of overacting.