Short reviews of tv and film comedy old and new, and other bits of info which don’t fit anywhere else on the site, updated weekly.
Santa Clarita Diet Season 3 Episodes 1 & 2
The first season of this Netflix zombie show, where Sheila Hammond (Drew Barrymore) just happens to be an undead mother who is all kinds of chatty and friendly, was slightly patchy but the second was a marked improvement as everything became a lot more crazed. Now it’s back for a third season, and this time around kicks off with Poplović (Goran Višnjić), a Serbian soldier, interrogating a man who claims he’s a farmer, until it’s revealed that he’s undead in the same way as Sheila is. One quick suicide later and Poplović is heading off to Santa Clarita as there’s reports of another walking corpse there, which doesn’t exactly bode well for our beloved family. Meanwhile Natalie Moralies is still around as Ann, believing Sheila to be doing God’s work, and it looks like she’s going to be just as much an issue as the Serbians as she’s spreading the news that Sheila’s no longer alive to way too many people, and the FBI are now investigating the bombing at the end of the second season, so if the Hammond’s survive this third batch of episodes it’ll be something of a miracle. I hope they do though, as the plot becomes more complicated the show just gets better and better, Barrymore was a little forced in the first season but has really grown in to the role and seems to be enjoying herself without hamming it up now, while Timothy Olymphant’s still the most valuable player as Sheila’s increasingly frenzied husband Joel, who oddly seems to be getting off on their antics. As well as all of the drama they’re throwing in a couple of extra themes this year with Joel having to come to terms with the idea that his wife might be immortal, while daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) is developing feelings for neighbour Eric, which is surely going to complicate matters. Though I’ve only seen the first two episodes so far it’s shaping up to be the best season yet, and is an original Netflix comedy that’s definitely worth catching.
Abby’s Season 1 Episode 1
Michael Schur is one of the greatest comedy writers of all time, and I say that just off of the back of The Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Office and Parks and Recreation, while Natalie Morales is one of the funniest actors around, ever since the enormously underrated The Middleman I’ve waited for her to be given her own show again as she was so amazing in it, and Neil Flynn is one of the most likeable actors on tv – I mean he hated Zach Braff’s JD in Scrubs when no one else did, which was one of the most confusing elements of any sitcom ever given what a painfully arrogant and annoying character. So Abby’s should have been a slam dunk, a sitcom which was an absolute delight, but as it is it’s only okay, kind of good but nothing that amazing. A Cheers for the 21st Century except that everyone drinks outdoors in Abby’s backyard (which has lights, chairs, a jukebox, and presumably a mysterious ability to never be rained upon), in the first episode her new landlord tries to close it down until he’s won over by the quirky bunch of regulars, and Abby herself. Morales is a great lead, Flynn is a decent straight man, landlord Bill (Nelson Franklin) adds a dramatic edge to the story and seems like an interesting character but the jokes are flat, there’s the odd okay one but nothing more than that, and I’m not convinced that the format lends itself to comedy which is exactly innovative. The characters are all fine too, but there’s not a Cliff or a Norm, a Frasier, a Woody or a Sam, or hell, even a Diane or a Coach and that’s a problem. It is only the pilot so hopefully it will develop over time and maybe develop the characters in interesting ways, but right now I’m unfortunately not that optimistic it will ever be anything I’ll fall madly in love with.
This Time With Alan Partridge Series 1 Episode 6
As a whole this latest outing for Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge has been a joy, packed with some extremely funny scenes and beautifully quotable dialogue, it’s prime Partridge, the character almost at his best, and only the first season of I’m Alan Partridge betters it. That’s not a surprise given that that show is one of the best ever created though and the Gibbons’ brothers should be incredibly proud of what they’ve produced. But that all said I have to admit to being a bit disappointed by the final episode, if only because of the way it felt a little forced, with Jennie pissed off with Alan at the beginning of the episode and walking off the set. If it had been a more gradual build up, with Alan annoying her over the past couple of episodes (or from his very first appearance on the show, as he’s not exactly the easiest man to get along with) it would have made more sense, but it felt a bit much considering it could have screwed her career up and while what Alan said was rude it wasn’t horrendously bad. The rest of the episode had plenty of highlights and gave Tim Key’s Simon Denton a lot more to do which is never a bad thing, but the way it ended with Alan having to see the head of the BBC was a sour note and slightly frustrating, I was expecting him to screw up somehow – he did kill a guest the last time he had a primetime BBC show after all – but I didn’t think his downfall would come in such a weak way. The Gibbons’ have revealed they are working on another series with Coogan so it’s clearly not going to effect Alan’s career too much, and I’m greatly looking forward to it on the strength of This Time, but I still do wish this final episode had ended in a more satisfying / funny manner.
Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein
I’m a big fan of the 30’s Universal horror films so it’s quite the thing to see the various monsters playing it admirably straight whilst Abbot and Costello engage it all manner of silliness. A couple of the scenes fall a little flat or don’t have a particularly strong pay off – Costello’s first encounter with the werewolf in the hotel room being the most glaring example – but most of the time it’s gloriously fun, with the ending delivering and then some, and it’s definitely made me want to check out more of Abbot and Costello’s work.
Youtube Video Of The Week
Back in the nineties ITV sometimes had a budget of over £29 for it’s morning tv programmes which they tended to spend on making cheap game shows like Win, Lose or Draw. Essentially a tv version of Pictionary but without them spending money on the rights to the game, it was hosted by a very perky Bob Mills, best known for the fantastic late night tv show In Bed With MeDinner, and it was surprisingly fun with the right contestants. That applies to this particular episode which not only featured beloved sitcom actor Windsor Davies but a member of the public called Michael Pennington, who is now better known as Johnny Vegas, and though it’s not exactly comedy gold it is a fun way to spend twenty minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Tp1mkqa5c
Previous Comedy Snippets:
28/03/2019 – Wayne, Blockbusters, Bill And Ted Face The Music, Hoodwinked
21/03/2019 – Shrill, A.P. Bio, One Red Nose Day And A Wedding, PK
14/03/2019 – Corporate, The Harry Hill Movie, CJ7, The Day Will Come
07/03/2019 – This Time With Alan Partridge, Frank Skinner On Demand, Girlfriend’s Day, Comic Relief
28/02/2019 – Hot Streets, Warren, Mom, Stage Fright
21/02/2019 – Jon Glaser Loves Gear, Corporate, Doom Patrol, Nudist Colony Of The Dead
14/02/2019 – American Dad, Pen15, Afterlife, The Return Of Captain Invincible
07/02/2019 – The Other Two, Hannah Gadsby’s Douglas, Roast Battle, Guys And Dolls
31/01/2019 – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Tigtone, Angie Tribeca, Middle School: The Worst Years Of My Life, Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Podcast
24/01/2019 – Oh Lucy!, Blark And Son, Angie Tribeca,
17/01/2019 – The Day Shall Come, Family Guy, Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Podcast, Jon Glaser Loves Gear
10/01/2018- Best Week Ever With Paul F. Tompkins, Vice, Catastrophe, Angie Tribeca