I feel a bit sorry for Dave, the channel which originally aired Taskmaster, as they nurtured the show for nine series, making it in to must see tv and getting some of the best comedians around to appear on it, only for Channel 4 to then leap in and nick it off them. Assurances would be made that it would be the same show at least, and that seems to be the case except now we’re in socially distanced times there was no audience in the room with the laughter recorded in a different location.
Otherwise this is still the show on fantastic form, Taskmaster lives or dies depending on who is taking part and though my estimations have proven false on occasion (whoever thought Joe Thomas would become the bizarre delight that he did?) I’m pretty damn optimistic this year that it’s going to be a great series. That’s because all of the contestants are very likeable, so it’s a season without the equivalent of an Iain Stirling or Josh Widdicombe, yet all are capable of incredible stupidity and watching horrendous failure is of course nearly always hilarious.
But as well as making shockingly poor decisions they appear to be quite an imaginative bunch, so though Richard Herring might have brought in a dull entry to the opening prize task the way he made a very large item vanish was impressive indeed. And while Johnny Vegas couldn’t work out how to get an egg in to a frying pan, his antics with a giant chicken were beautifully funny, with Daisy May Cooper, Mawaan Rizwan and Katherine Parkinson also having moments of inspiration in among the times they did something ridiculously daft.
Thankfully the lack of an audience hasn’t affected the studio based sections either, it still feels like they’re present, and though Greg and Alex aren’t able to physically interact their verbal sparring is better than ever. Greg being harsher than before when it comes to the scores has given the show a burst of energy too, and his observations are still memorable as well, with my favourite being his description of Katherine Parkinson’s presenting skills as being like a “Mid eighties Judith Chalmers”.
The only weak moment was the studio based task, something that I’ve never been that fond of and due to the lack of an audience in the room I’d hoped it might be ditched, though it sadly wasn’t to be. It’s a minor issue however and the show as a whole was still a delight, this looks like it’ll once again be a fantastic series, the move and the pandemic hasn’t diminished it in any way, and I’d be amazed if word of mouth doesn’t spread and Channel 4 will have a massive hit on their hands.