Sorry to do this Jess but ...

TV So what is Jessica Stevenson doing in According to Bex, other than getting paid? I tuned in fearing the worst but with a little hope in the back of my mind that if Jess was anywhere near the project it would have someone else going on, a spark which would disprove the idea that all Friday night sitcoms on the BBC are bad. In the fifteen minutes before I turned it off, my mouth gaped open so far my lips began to hurt.

The premise seems to be that Bex is a Bridget Jones-type with an on/off boyfriend, looking for a perfect man. But the twist is that as the plot progresses she addresses the viewer and asks people in the street what they think she should do. I'll cautiously say that this isn't such a poor idea if done well. But for a start the members of the public aren't -- they're actors, all of whom you seemed to remember seeing before in an advert or pop video, and to a degree all hopelessly trying to be seen. Bex addressing the viewer are about the only times Jess seems comfortable but set looks like its been brought out of mothballs from an 'I Love...' series. The execution is so rotten that I was happy that my new dvd recorder had an erase button so I could literally dump the programme from the disc and my life.

I have a nagging feeling that the script isn't awful. There was evidence of some perfectly funny lines in there. But its buried under the kind of cruddy acting style which wasn't allowed on US tv in the Eighties as every line is emphasised lest we miss a single joke or jape. Imagine a show in which everyone is talking as though they're doing a parody of Ross from Friends. In the case of Greg Wise (a fine actor I thought) this leads to some frightening eyerolling to the extent at one stage during a particularly unfunny exchange with Stevenson its easy to imagine he's gone into a fit. Jess just looks lost unfortunately, which is a shame because I really like her -- and every now and then you can see glimmers of the actress we know -- but much of the time it's like she's been afflicted with the bad delivery disease infesting the rest of the cast.

Their verbal emphasis is further hightened by a maddeningly loud laughter track. Not an eye roll, a gesture or a stroll passed by without the audience, canned or not, treating it as though it as though it's the funniest thing they've ever seen. At one point it sounded as though the 'howl' button was stuck and it was rotating around and around and around.

It's been a while since I've wanted to criticise a show so vehermently but this really has few redeeming features. To be fair I did only see the first fifteen minutes so its entirely possible I was seeing a sitcom parody wrapped in a dream sequence and those last five inspired minutes could have been really good. I'll hold onto that hope because with this running double bill with a fifth (why?) series of Ardel O'Hanlon in My Hero it feels like quality control in the BBC comedy department is at an all time low. I mean even the sets are horrible with a bar set which looks like it was borrowed from Coupling and the fakest looking office in tv history. If Dom Joly wasn't producing the genius of World Shut Your Mouth (or 'Triggy Happy TV flies the World') later in the evening it would be easy to characterise this to be the place were ex-Channel 4 talent goes to work off all the dark matter which is left over when they're tapping out their genius over so many years. Tragic.

3 comments:

Kat Sagbottom said...

"Imagine a show in which everyone is talking as though they're doing a parody of Ross from Friends."

GOOD GOD, MAN! For the love of all things tolerable, this is just about THE SINGLE MOST HORRIFYING THING I could ever be asked to imagine. Sorry for the shouting, but I literally screeched when I read that sentence. Such a show should simply not exist, unless it is in the third circle of hell.

Stuart Ian Burns said...

And here it is on primetime BBC One ...

Robyn said...

I didn't even recognise her for the first 2 minutes. Course, after two minutes I turned off anyway. Terrible, wasn't it?