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 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

#Je Suis Charlie 2

Charlie-Hebdo

The two runaway men who carried out the massacre on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, Said and Cherif Kouachi, have been captured and shot. Police forces stormed the Kosher butchers where they were holding numerous individuals hostage. In total, twenty people or more have now died in this tragedy.

Of course, the death of these terrorists does not mean the end of terrorist attacks on our free way of life (Oh, God help me, I sound like George W. Bush or some other improbable American politician there; at least I didn’t say “evil-doer” or “mission accomplished”). We need to remain strong and confident in our values and not allow the spectre of terrorism to either stifle our free speech nor be used by our politicians to restrict our freedoms.

Unfortunately, I am rather disappointed and disturbed by the reaction to these shootings.

Yes, the popular support for Charlie Hebdo has been encouraging and inspiring. Far less encouraging, however, has been the reaction of the press. So far as I can tell, not a single British newspaper has republished the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Someone please tell me I’m wrong and that I overlooked a front page somewhere. I just cannot believe that all of our newspapers have failed in their duty so miserably… again! (2005 Danish Cartoon Controversy, anyone…?)

The respected Guardian newspaper “justified” not reprinting the cartoons at the centre of this massacre by basically saying, ‘We’re not a satirical magazine, so we don’t have to’. Well, sorry The Guardian, but you are a newspaper and need to report the news. None of this massacre has any context or makes any sense at all unless the cartoons in question — not other cartoons from Charlie Hebdo, but the specific cartoons that the terrorist shooters were “avenging” — are republished.

Please do read The Guardian‘s entire pathetic justification. The following extract is particularly telling.

In social media, the call has been loud – and aimed at several British newspapers, including this one – to take a stand by publishing the very images that made Charlie Hebdo a target. For the most vociferous, republishing a sample of the magazine’s usual fare, which the Guardian has already done, is not enough: they insist that true defenders of free speech would reprint Charlie Hebdo’s depictions of the prophet Muhammad, especially the crudest, most scatological examples.

That case is straightforward. Since these are the images the gunmen wanted to stop, the surviving free press is obliged to deny the killers that victory. No other gesture can show that we refuse to be cowed by their crime. By repeating Charlie Hebdo’s action, we would demonstrate our resistance to the edict the terrorists sought to enforce on pain of death. We show that Charlie Hebdo was not alone.

There is an appealing simplicity to that stance, but it rests on faulty logic. The key point is this: support for a magazine’s inalienable right to make its own editorial judgments does not commit you to echo or amplify those judgments. Put another way, defending the right of someone to say whatever they like does not oblige you to repeat their words.

Each and every publication has a different purpose and ethos. Charlie Hebdo is not the Guardian or the New York Times, nor is it the Daily Mail or Private Eye. The animating intention behind its work was to satirise and provoke in a distinctive voice, one that would not sit easily in other publications. Other publications can defend – and defend absolutely – the necessary diversity of press voices along with an editor’s right to offend. But the best response is not to be forced to speak in a different voice. The Guardian felt that at the time of the 2005 Danish cartoons controversy, and we feel it now. As Simon Jenkins argued on these pages on Wednesday, terrorists’ chief goal is to make us change our behaviour. It’s best to deny them that victory.

[emphasis in bold is mine]

Yeeeah… I could perform a media student-style dissection of that crock, but I’d rather save my time. I only need to say the following two things.

One: newspapers are supposed to report the news, and by not reprinting the original cartoons the newspapers deprive readers of the essential context at the heart of the news — imagine 9/11 being reported with no pictures of the planes going into the Twin Towers. Can you even imagine that such a thing would have happened? Of course not.

Two: note the Orwellian inversion of logic that, in order to not “change our behaviour”, as the terrorists want us to, we need to thwart the terrorists by persisting in our established behaviour of being cowardly as ever and not fighting back by printing the original images. What on earth?? Peace is war, cowardice is defiance — apparently.

Will it take the merciless slaughter of a British cartoonist, such as the Guardian‘s own Martin Rowson, before our newspapers stop sliming their way out of their duty? What is the point of a free press if they will not report the news — the core of the news here being the original cartoons?

Well, bollocks to our cowardly newspapermen! I suggest we plaster the offices of all of our newspapers with print-outs of the original Charlie Hebdo cartoons. I would also commit to not buying any of their papers anymore — except I long ago grew sick of the sludge that passes for news with these cretins, and so no longer read the mainstream newspapers.

P.S. Here’s a wonderful response to the media’s cowardice by Don Asmussen. Thanks to Jerry A. Coyne for posting it on his blog.

bad150109

featured image from http://eyedrd.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Charlie-Hebdo.jpg
Don Asmussen cartoon from http://www.gocomics.com/badreporter/2015/01/09

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

#Je Suis Charlie

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Cartoonists around the world have been proving that the pen is mightier than the automatic weapon. I thought I’d share some of my favourite cartoon responses with you. Also, please show solidarity on Twitter with the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie and by (re)posting relevant cartoons including those posted by Charlie Hebdo.

See my post on the breaking news yesterday here.

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

images from:
https://twitter.com/paristuzun/status/552853803955793920/photo/1

https://twitter.com/davpope/status/552844593046097920/photo/1
https://twitter.com/amolrajan/status/552888670718803968/photo/1
https://twitter.com/RteeFufkin/status/552937192252006400/photo/1
https://twitter.com/NYMag/status/553068764846358528/photo/1
https://twitter.com/dylsharpe/status/553110186215612416/photo/1
https://twitter.com/candorville/status/553003288488988672/photo/1

 

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