Friday, December 13, 2013

Brass Eye Review

Brass Eye was created by Chris Morris who also starred in the series as the anchorman and various news reporters. There are 7 episodes in all which all focus on a different topic. The show is a mock up newscast with over the top special effects which are alarmingly similar to those seen on real news programmes.

The subject matter is highly controversial, most notably in the final episode. Morris aims to shock and toe the line between the unacceptable politically incorrect. Unsurprisingly it caused a bit of a storm when released. It is basically a more extreme version of the previously released The Day Today.

The first 6 episodes of Brass Eye were shown on Channel 4 in the UK in 1997. The last episode was a special which was shown in 2001. It was the final episode which caused the biggest stir with thousands of complaints and politicians even joined in.

The show is compelling viewing from start to end. This is possibly the best comedy series ever produced. Morris has a sledgehammer wit which holds no bars. He is excellent in all the roles he plays as are the other familiar faces.

What really sets this show apart from almost anything else is the sheer dedication to entertainment. The humour is dark and uncompromising. The sets and production obviously had an immense amount of effort put in.

There are some cringe worthy moments, especially with the celebrities who are duped into making ridiculous statements by Morris. The final episode is particularly uncomfortable in parts. But it is all worth it and you will find yourself watching this series over and over again.

Anyone who does not know Chris Morris might recognise him as Denholm, the boss from the first series of the more recent IT Crowd. Unfortunately there isn’t much else he has appeared in besides a cameo appearance of I’m Alan Partridge as the “posh sod with quacking plums in his mouth”.

He also created Jam after Brass Eye which is a very dark and atmospheric series and then Nathan Barley. Both are excellent but do not compare to Brass Eye or the earlier The Day Today. Most recently he created  the movie Four Lions which is fantastic. Hopefully we will see a lot more of him in the future.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wilfred (US)

Wilfred is a rather unique concept for a TV show. It features a talking dog played by a man. This sounds a little silly at first but it is well worth a watch.

The dog is played by Jason Gann who also stared in the original Wilfred series from Australia. The other star is Elijah Wood who you may recognise from the Lord Of The Rings. I have seen the Australian version too and have to say I prefer the US one. It is well polished and better acted.

The story lines follow Wood’s character. He is having some issues in his life and is now basically a jobless hermit. Wilfred becomes his friend and they smoke weed and chill out together. Wilfred is a fantastic character and gets Wood into all sorts of trouble.

The story lines can be pretty dark but it is all in good fun. There are occasional lighthearted ‘dog jokes’ which are very welcome, for example Wilfred can’t help but go crazy chasing around after a laser pen. Wilfred is a rogue and this bad behaviour is hilarious when combined with his K9 instincts.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Doug Stanhope

Doug Stanhope is one of the comedians with near perfect reviews, except for those that really hate him. His style is drunk, brutally honest and shocking. For those that don’t know him I guess you could say he is like a Bill Hicks that has gone off the rails.

His more recent DVDs are as hardcore as ever and in one (maybe the Oslo DVD) he says he doesn’t care anymore about “the message”. He admits that sharp insightful comedy which dissects ’the powers that be’, hasn’t got him anywhere. He still has some great points but it feels like he has now given up trying to make points in favour of sticking with shocking stuff. He still manages make you realise how the world is full of hypocrisy.

This is easily the most compelling current stand-up comedy and it is no coincidence that Doug Stanhope is the first review on this site for live shows. He is utterly engaging and entertaining. His ramblings often seem to loose track as he sips on his beer, but they always seem to work out funny, and often profound.

This is a very important comic. He is not afraid to say the harshest things which keeps you on the edge of your seat. I often find myself amazed at what he is saying, as do the crowd. As for his DVDs, they are all worth getting. I often find I need to be in the mood to watch stand-up on DVD, but with Doug I can watch him anytime.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Stephen Merchant

As far as I know there is just one DVD from this guy. It is an admirable effort. What really shines through is his intelligence, which manifests itself in well timed and varied humour. As a stand up show I was pleasantly surprised.

Stephen gives an air of someone who is a little introverted and on edge, someone who would not be totally comfortable in front of thousands of people (from my experience seeing him on An Idiot Abroad and listening to podcasts). Actually he does a great job of ruining this preconception. He looks very comfortable and is not afraid to loosen up and be a physical comic.

This is a refreshing contrast to Ricky Gervais, who is not the best stand up comedian. There are one or two influences from Ricky’s shows, but Stephen Merchant takes things much further. It really feels like he has gone the extra mile and explored every avenue of his comedy talent.

At times there are some dull parts and some rather tacky jokes. If there is one criticism then I would say he tries a little too hard to fit too much in. He could easy cut some of the material and it would be just as good. Those parts are the very ‘easy jokes’, it can feel like he is trying to impress too much by shoving a joke in wherever he can.

But all in all this is excellent stuff and well worth buying. I’ll certainly be buying any future DVDs he does, which is more than I can say for his comedy partner (actually I’ll probably download anything by Gervais in future more out of curiosity).