BritBox Review: Spitting Image S1E8 #BritBox @BritBox_UK

Spitting Image Episode Eight saw the show begin to get into the swing of things. With its running sketches, such as Govey in Paris and the Bond auditions, this felt like a show that was finally finding its rhythm. Sadly, it’s not a hugely funny rhythm.

The anthropomorphised Coronavirus “Coronie” is back again. He’s depressed because of the vaccine, but gets a pep talk from the Flu who tells him that Chicken Pox isn’t down in the dumps so why should he be? So Coronie vows to “mutate with the times”. Uninspiring stuff, but at least it has surrealism to make it borderline diverting. Something that cannot be said of our inane Bezos-Musk-Branson storyline featuring the three entrepreneurs trapped on Mars and getting high as kites. This is as unfunny as ever.

Biden comes face-to-face with the Illuminati which is comprised of underused puppets created for the show, one of which is Piers Morgan. But really, Morgan is that influential? Having him as a main member of the Illuminati could only be motivated by a desire to flatter the real Morgan’s huge ego in order to get air time on GMB. Weird stuff.

But it wasn’t all dire.

Harry and Megan made a return. It’s still the same joke: he’s a clueless put-upon prat and she’s a power and fame hungry C lister who’ll stoop to anything to get breaks. None-the-less, it’s amusing. A rather amusingly well-delivered line from Harry was, “Either I’m an idiot, or you’re the greatest actress of all time”, to which she responds “Oh, Hairr-brains, that’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever said”. As much as I’ve been doing down this show over the last few episodes, that exchange genuinely made me chortle, and it was also refreshingly humanising of these two individuals.

The spoof of Tarantino was completely straight-forward and predictable but none-the-less reasonably amusing.

BoJo was shown as beholden to public opinion and willing to flip-flop at the drop of the hat if the people, that is, Marcus Rashford, will it. This was quite amusing, and I shared an online clip of this segment, such was my amusement.

Idris Elba‘s “smoulder” was back, and pretty amusing. The best bit of the episode, really, all five seconds of it. And there was some mockery of Gwyneth Paltrow‘s new age nonsense, which also amused. The James Corden impersonation is still shockingly accurate, hard to believe it isn’t actually him. Seeing Corden get hit around the head with a club by Tiger Woods was satisfying and amusing, but it was hardly great satire.

Amusing. Yes. “Amusing” is the word. Much of this episode was amusing, some of it raised a smile, but none of it made me laugh out loud as moments from previous episodes did. Therefore, even though it was more solid than Episode Seven, it has no real stand-out comedy moment unlike last week’s outing. Although there was an exceptional stand-out bit of surrealism where Kanye West takes to rearing GMed cattle which are designed to grow trainers instead of hooves which he then just snips off and sells…

Spitting Image seems to be finding a rhythm, finally, and growing in self-confidence, but it is still uninspired and lazy, lacking in bite, edge, or even good jokes.

2/5

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://www.nme.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Kanye_Spitting_Image.jpg

BritBox Review: Spitting Image S1E7 #BritBox @BritBox_UK

originally published at www.moviereviewsblog.com

Spitting Image Episode Seven was the first to come out after the US Presidential results. So it was sure to be heavy on the Biden-Trump satire, and Trump was certain to get a right marionetting. I was looking forward to it.

Trump’s distended arsehole (no, yes) is still as shockingly funny as ever, really inspired toilet humour. Other toilet humour, such as a piss-exploding corgi, was good, albeit a bit senseless. We saw more of Keir Starmer’s superhero alter ego Foxman, which amused, and Vladimir Putin definitely doesn’t give James Corden a plutonium-laced death kiss — which was satisfying. Glad to see I’m not the only one who seethes with hatred (and jealousy?) whenever Corden comes on the screen.

Sadly, these good moments were few and very far between in a rather arid outing.

Dominic Cummings began the series as one of the best characters, but now his alien schtick is getting very old. None-the-less, the “head pulse” is still hypnotic and amusing. The “New James Bond Auditions” sketch, which has become a runner, is a potentially great idea — such a shame that it hasn’t been particularly funny.

The satire, such as it is, goes downhill from this point on.

Trump talking about having a big penis, Prince Andrew getting hit around the head (again), and Her Majesty with a mouth like a Tommy in the Trenches (Why? How does this even make sense?) were particular lowlights. The whole foul-mouthed Queen stuff took up significant screen time, as well. But we hadn’t quite reached rock bottom yet. That was “achieved” with not one, but two very unfunny and painful to watch/listen to “comedy” song numbers: the first, based on the decades-old skit idea of coming up with a new Bond theme tune, the second, on the potentially fruitful topic of euthanasia. Potential for laughs, sure, but the numbers were atrocious. As I’ve said before, the writers either need to knock these so-called “comedy” songs on the head, or else hire someone who can actually write funny music. Awful stuff.

The worst thing about this episode, given it came out after the US Presidential Elections results came in, was that it was distinctly light on current news or satire or reference to the election. Very disappointing.

I’m not sure that this show is getting better as it goes on. Scrapes a two. Sad.

2/5

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://www.itv.com/presscentre/sites/default/files/20200905_spitting_image_3_05_prince_charles_camilla_0532.jpg

BritBox Review: Spitting Image S1E4 #BritBox @BritBox_UK

Spitting Image‘s fourth episode saw an increased emphasis on the doings of Michael Gove, pop star Adele, and Ivanka Trump. It was about as focused as last week’s episode in this regard (which also focused on a few main characters, mainly Prince Harry and Megan Markle), there thankfully being no return to the chaotic scatter gun approach of Episode Two.

However, there was nonetheless a notable drop in quality from last week. Many of the jokes weren’t relatable (I still find the “Priti Patel is a vampire” thing unintelligible, only now it’s unintelligible and tedious) and many of the others have been well and truly overdone by only the fourth episode (I’m thinking Emmanuel Macron’s overly long lascivious tongue). The joke about Adele’s weight loss and everyone’s fixation on it was mildly amusing the first time it was told in this episode, but not the second time — let alone the fourteenth. We get it, we get it already! Here comes another joke for the umpteenth time: Ivanka Trump is a vacuous person. Okay, okay. Stop it, please, stop the “joke” already. My God, stop. On the up side, Jurgen Klopp was, once again, amusing, although not quite as “funny” as he was in Episode Two. And the “The dress is blue and black… I heard ‘laurel’” joke was admittedly funny, albeit five years out of date. When your best joke in a twenty-four minute sociopolitical satire relates to a five year old viral meme about the colour of a dress, you need to ask yourselves some serious questions.

The main “joke” about Gove seems to be that his cheeks look like two giant bollocks. Heady satire indeed(!) Speaking of which, however, the puppets are wonderful. We get a long look at Piers Morgan, and it’s truly delightful. The puppets really are magnificent. A shame the episode wasn’t. Another tawdry song number rounded off what was a pretty poor, if not totally worthless, fourth instalment. It has made me YouTube the songs from Not the Nine O’Clock News; now that was how to write a funny comedy song!

I haven’t given up hope yet, but I’m getting the feeling that Season One might end up being best viewed in a single twenty minute “Best Bits” compendium.

2/5

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://www.chortle.co.uk/images/photos/small/spitting-image-michael-gove.jpg

BritBox Review: Spitting Image S1E3 #BritBox @BritBox_UK

Check out my film and TV review blog here

The third episode of BritBox’s Spitting Image was a bit less random than last week’s outing, focusing more on a few key characters. This was necessary as it gave us a bit of time to develop the jokes, insofar as the jokes are developable and not just the same gag repeated and reheated.

We see a massive increase in the presence of Prince Harry and Megan Markle. The jokes were mostly obvious — Harry is a bit of an idiot, he’s posh, he thinks he’s run away to freedom but is actually more under-the-thumb than ever — but these punches nonetheless landed and were funny. The line involving “chukka” made me laugh, encapsulating in a few words Harry’s total detachment from reality like never before in his life.

We started to see significant time committed to ridiculing the totally ridiculous Labour front bench. This was nice, and it’s unclear why the Shadow Cabinet hasn’t been featured that much already; perhaps it’s fear of offending the left, or perhaps it’s just that this ridiculous Labour frontbench is beyond satire. In any case, Starmer was portrayed as the only competent one, all his team presented as incompetent toddlers in need of direction. I’m not sure if this is particularly on the nose, however, as his team is generally seen (by critics) as an example of positive discrimination gone awry with incompetents being overpromoted due to having ticked the right boxes.

Episode Three did just enough to nudge a good rating, but it’s still marginally weaker than the season opener. Spitting Image still seems to be finding its way. It’s a show that the world needs, and it’s a show with a great weight of history behind it. Therefore, I’m willing to give it time to come of age. But it’s still not hitting the right notes.

3/5

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://www.expressandstar.com/resizer/qmFY-KcFAe0HGD9SVntsX4S8jUE=/1000×0/filters:quality(100)/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-expressandstar-mna.s3.amazonaws.com/public/DTMEWWFY5ZBXRNPIFF24GXDVEI.jpg

BRITBOX REVIEW: SPITTING IMAGE S1E2 #BRITBOX @BRITBOX_UK

Let’s just get straight to it: Spitting Image Episode Two was much weaker than the season opener. No amount of new regular characters can save it. And boy were there a bunch of new characters! We were absolutely pelted with them. Sadly, the scattergun approach usually leaves the viewer grimacing rather than grinning, and this episode did not break that pattern.

It seems they have made the microscopic coronavirus a regular character; it’s boring and pointless. Boris was as underwhelming as last week. Cummings is still good, his reptilian shtick not yet boring although not as funny as last week. Thunberg is amusing, and it’s nice to see them lampooning a person with a learning difficulty. Not because I enjoy mocking disabled people, but because we live in an age where lampooning a person like Thunberg is considered haram due to her autism; satire is there to expose the ridiculous in everyone and everything, and it cannot have sacred cows or else it is toothless. Her autism itself was not mocked, and that is the key.

Stand out stuff was Jurgen Klopp finding the positive in everything including bricks through the window. Very funny and helped me just about get through what was, otherwise, a mostly boring 24 minutes. Frankly, the Klopp stuff were the only parts where I actually laughed out loud as opposed to merely smiling — that is, where I smiled at all.

Generally forgettable stuff, but some shoots of hope remain for this series.

2/5

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://e3.365dm.com/20/08/1600×900/skynews-boris-johnson-spitting-image_5058070.jpg?20200804162514

BritBox Review: Spitting Image S1E1 #BritBox @BritBox_UK

check out my film/series reviews website here

Spitting Image is the legendary satire-with-puppets show that helped define an era (the ’80s-90s Conservative governments) and which was internationally syndicated and remade in dozens of countries. It has gone down in TV legend, so much so that there have been several tries at rebooting it or copying it. But October 2020 is when the show was finally rebooted, exclusive for the BBC-ITV joint delusion venture to rival Netflix: BritBox. But can reality ever live up to the memory of this now fabled show?

Episode one was surprisingly on point in terms of style and gags; you would never have thought the show had been off air for around 25 years. However, just like the good old days, many of the gags fell flat. And just like the good old days, many other gags had an inspired insanity about them (I’m thinking an extra-terrestrial, insectoid, baby-eating Dominic Cummings… if that doesn’t get you interested, I don’t know what will).

There was some lampooning of the right, as you would expect, but thankfully the left wasn’t immune, either, Lewis Hamilton and Greta “Magical Autist” Thunberg coming in for fire.

One bizarre weak point left me scratching my head. The guy doing Boris Johnson just wasn’t that good. He was weirdly restrained. Boris Johnson himself makes a better parody of Boris Johnson than this Boris Johnson parody did. Quite odd, and a bit of a flat note.

All in all, this wasn’t the sharpest satire I’ve ever seen. However, it was much better than the knock-off Newzoids (2015-2016). Many jokes landed. It seems to be taking swipes at all. And the trademark mix of heady satire and toilet humour has continued. Worth watching, although I’m not sure if it’ll be good enough to help make BritBox a success.

3/5

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/x/6/9/0/3/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.1420×800.1x68f9.png/1569726636839.jpg

The Electoral College #NotMyPresident

electoralcollege2016_svg

So Donald Trump is the new President of the United States of America. I am not happy at all. Don’t get me wrong! I didn’t support Hilary Clinton either. What a choice(!) One Twitter user likened it to having to choose between which STD you want.

I’m actually British. But I’ve followed every US election since I was 16 years old (the 2000 election). Something weird is going on, though, and I know I’m not the only one who this has been happening to…

HOW I WOULD HAVE VOTED
2016

Clinton vs. Trump. I choose… neither!

But my favourite candidate in the primaries was RAND PAUL, REPUBLICAN, even though I had some misgivings. I would have voted for him over Clinton. HOWEVER, my second favourite candidate from the primaries: BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRAT. I would’ve voted for him over Trump or Clinton.

So, I’m a Republican, or a Democrat, but 100% would vote for neither Clinton or Trump. WTH?

2012
Obama vs. Romney. 100% OBAMA. I’m not actually a big fan of his, even though he’s dreamy and hawt. Romney was simply a sociopathic scumbag zealot. For example, I’ll never forget when a man in a wheelchair asked Romney why medical marijuana should be illegal even though it literally was the only thing making his life bearable, and Romney’s facial expressions and dismissiveness just spoke a 1000 words to his character.

But my favourite candidate in the primaries was, once again, a REPUBLICAN, RON PAUL.

2008
Obama vs. McCain (and Palin). I mean, WTF? Remember McCain and Palin and how we thought that was a parody? Wow. So yeah, OBAMA all the way for me!

But again, weirdly, for the third election on the trot, my favourite candidate overall was a REPUBLICAN, RON PAUL.

2004
Bush vs. Kerry. Not a fan of Kerry, but this was definitely lesser of two evils. 100% KERRY!

SO…. WOULD I BE A DEMOCRAT OR A REPUBLICAN IF I WAS AMERICAN?
Well, in the four elections that I could have voted in if I was an American, out of the two candidates we ended up with, I would have voted:

Democrats 3 – 0 Republicans (1 spoiled ballot)

Yet if you could vote for any of the candidates in the primaries, I would have voted:

Democrats 1 – 3 Republicans

So…. that makes me a Republocrat? How effed up is that??

REPUBLOCRATS
I always use the term “Republocrats” to disparagingly describe the American System. Bluntly, if I was a yank, I would always vote Libertarian if I had the option. Which isn’t a surprise considering my favourite candidates have been Ron Paul 2008 (former Libertarian presidential candidate), erm, Ron Paul 2012 model, and, errrrr, Rand Paul 2016 (son of Ron Paul, former Libertarian presidential candidate).

REFORM?
Considering the Prez can’t get anything done unless the houses agree. And considering the presidential race is totally absurd: I mean, depending on which way we slice it, I’m either a Republican or a Democrat! I’m not the only one. Why not just have the President, and the President alone, elected by nationwide popular vote?

Upsides to this idea:

  1. It would encourage people to vote the way they really want, knowing their vote will count, instead of voting tactically to contract the clap instead of the pox.
  2. It would allow “third party” candidates and independents to stand a real chance and to help shape the national debate.
  3. It would encourage people who didn’t get their party’s nomination, but who are massively popular, to stand as independents.
  4. Al Gore would have won in 2000! And that argument alone clinches it, I think. [Clinton would also have beat Trump on this basis]

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_States)#/media/File:ElectoralCollege2016.svg By Gage – 2012 Electoral College map, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35172210

Donald Bigly Trump

Donald Trump

Today Trump said: Hillary wants to raise taxes big league.

Trump needs to stop saying blah blah blah BIG LEAGUE. Because I keep hearing it as “BIGLY”. Which is weird. And I thought the phrase was “Major League”, anyway, like Dubya’s “Major League Asshole“. Luckily, after tomorrow I won’t need to hear it ever again. Unless… :-O That’s what’s really at stake in this election. Oh yeah, and Trump’s weird hand gestures, and Clinton’s incessant smiling, head bobble, and pointing and waving. The issues that really count.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://i.huffpost.com/gen/3176536/images/o-DONALD-TRUMP-facebook.jpg

2nd Presidential Debate #PresidentialDebate #KarlBecker #Debate @HillaryClinton @realDonaldTrump

image

Here are some brief thoughts on the second presidential debate (I don’t want to wax lyrical, as this would turn into an essay!).

  1. Trump was much stronger than in the first debate; Clinton was much weaker (I’m not going to call them “Donald” and “Hilary”; they’re not my friends). Things were close enough that both sides could (and have) claimed a win. My feeling: Clinton just edged it due to the occasional odd moment out of Trump’s mouth, even though Trump’s best moments were probably slightly better than Clinton’s.
  2. Trump came out with some bizarrely inept statements. For example, CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE POST

GOP Debate 11 #gopdebate

image

I’ve been following the US primary elections avidly as I do every cycle. I would have fifty debates, if I could; I just can’t get enough of it! Although I never really blog about it (I don’t get paid for writing this, y’know; plus, regularly writing about the lunacy of US politics would consume my life and my sanity if I let it!). I have to say, I always find the Republican debates far more entertaining than the Democratic ones; the Republicans do batshit crazy like no one else. But to their credit, they also debate real ideology, instead of the bland New Labour-like stylings of the Democrats.

This election cycle, the debates have been particularly interesting. Whether it is Bernie Sanders who offers a genuinely different approach, albeit not as revolutionary as many make out. Or the trump card Donald Trump-ness of Donald Trump. This has been top dollar entertainment.

Some great moments of recent debates for me have been:

  • Marco Rubio’s robotic repetition of “Barack Obama knows exactly what he’s doing”, which was brutally destroyed by Chris Christie: link.
  • Rubio landing a heavy blow on Trump. “Now he’s repeating himself” “No, no, no. I don’t repeat myself”. “You don’t repeat yourself!? You repeat yourself every day(!)” “Talk about repeating yourself. I watched him repeat himself five times four weeks ago” “I saw you repeat yourself five times five seconds ago… I watch him repeat himself every night. He says five things: everyone’s dumb, he’s gonna make America great again, we’re gonna win, win, win, he’s winning in the polls, and the lines around the states”.
  • Ben Carson dropping out! Never knew an allegedly educated man could be so stupid.
  • Clinton pathetically trying to copy the rhetoric of Sanders in a most see-through fashion. Her naked ambition is sickening.

The banter levels have only got higher as the debates have gone on. The 11th GOP debate had some fantastic moments.

  • Ted Cruz telling Trump, “I know it’s hard not to interrupt, just breathe, breeeathe, breeeeeeathe,  you can do it(!)”
  • Marco Rubio: “When they’re done with the yoga, can I just answer the question?” Cruz: “I really hope we don’t see yoga on this stage”. Rubio: “Well, he’s very flexible, so you never know”.

But quite apart from sharing my joy at this freak show, I wanted to briefly share my thoughts on Trump.

Trump has undoubtedly said a lot of nasty, ignorant, terrible things, things wholly unbecoming of a would-be President. A stand-out moment of idiotic, racist, crassness was the calling for all Muslims to be banned from entering the US ‘until we can figure out what’s going on’. I mean, really? Am I watching a parody, or is this real? Scenes like this would lie on the cutting room floor of The Thick of It for being deemed too unrealistic. I secretly suspect that, just like Orson Welles’ infamous 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, we will find out that this was all just an eleborate stunt, and that Jeb Bush was actually already selected as the GOP candidate six months ago.

But despite Donald Trump’s nonsensical, woman-hating, over-the-top, racist, moronic, loud-mouthed bile fountain, I have been saying the following for a while now: I bet he will make an alright President.

Huh!? What!?!!

Yeah, seriously. True, everything he says is offensive to liberal-minded, decent people. Wait, scrap that: everything he says is offensive to anyone with a brain, including the most right-wing of the right (hence why there is currently a movement to try to “Dump Trump” in the GOP). But amidst the ape-shit poo-flinging, there are moments of clarity.

He seems to be a pragmatist and genuinely not bound by allegiance to donors or the party elite, able to change his tune at the drop of a hat. But this is different from flip-flopping. For all his yelling, he seems a pragmatist, not a flip-flopper or an ideologue, and he’s no tool of corporate interests, either.

He has repeatedly had a soft line on foreign affairs, from open dialogue to Putin and others to not getting involved in carpet bombing Syria or invading foreign countries. He talks about doing away with Obama care like all the other Republicans, but he has specifically said that he will not let a single poor person die on the street or go without treatment. Other candidates have mocked him, saying he will involve the Federal government to achieve this. He has admitted to changing his mind and positions on various things instead of dishonestly trying to claim he always had the same position. And come on! The guy is a massively successfully businessman — even though he “only” received a “small loan of a million dollars” from his Daddy to get started. You don’t become as successful in business as him without being a flexible, pragmatic, open-minded, but hard-nosed negotiator.

These relatively moderate positions are all cloaked in right wing rhetoric (Build a wall! Winning, winning, winning! Take care of our vets! Ban Muslims!). I think this cloaking is clever stage management to smuggle the less offensive real Trump into office. I foretell a massive change of rhetorical style, if not content, if and when he receives the Republican nomination.

Furthermore, that the Republican establishment hate him and that he is self-financed and cannot be beholden to big money are all the more reason to think he wouldn’t be a bad choice.

And it’s not just me. Analyses of his positions show that he is far from the most extreme man on the Republican stage. And that’s based on his current rhetoric, which as I say, I suspect is phony.

So in short, whilst the toxic rhetoric of Trump would at first glance seem to be a million miles from what is required of a President of the United States, I have the sneakiest suspicion that it is mostly a persona cleverly constructed and worn by the Trump. I think that, of the remaining four GOP and two Democratic candidates, Trump is far from the worst; indeed, he might be one of the best.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.teenvogue.com/story/11th-gop-debate-trump-kelly