The Jelly Fox – Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy E4 LogoLike Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger recreating The Jungle Book. Or a William Blake inspired party-time.

Noel Fielding's Luxury ComedySo describes the associated web-page for Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy from production company Secret Peter showing on E4, the new comedy from one half of The Mighty Boosh, the eponymous Noel Fielding, but though the other Boosher, Julian Barratt, is absent the spirit of Boosh is still very much at play.

Not just its spirit though but also some of the Boosh actors. Michael Fielding (is he more than a name-sake to Noel I wonder?!) who played Naboo turns up here as Noel’s anteater butler – yes you read that right! And Rich Fulcher who played Bob Fossil turns up as William Jessop celebrating his one hundredth birthday and being visited by the ghost of a flea. This may start to give you a feel for what this Luxury Comedy is about – or not.

We are warned that it contains adult humour – in the UK that means only suitable for those over 18 – if you are 17 and British sorry but then this is not for you! Though this show may well not be for you however old you might be – more of that later. It may just as well have warned us that it contains childish humour and that if you are serious-minded-adult-type to watch at your peril.  For Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy is for the child in all of us, if, that is, your inner child was expelled from Kindergarten…

Incidentally to establish that you are indeed eighteen and beyond, Channel 4 make the serious demand of you that you click in a box on their online player confirming such and you are then cheerily beckoned in, not a bleary burly bludgeoning bouncer in sight. Anyone seventeen and younger will naturally be deterred by this. Okay that’s enough sarcasm.

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - The Jelly Fox cast

The cast awaits you

The Luxury Comedy starts in musical fashion with the entire cast however significant however insignificant welcoming us to them and their show.

This second episode, The Jelly Fox, then cuts to Noel Fielding in black leather jumpsuit and Aladdin Sane style face-paint dancing around to a nineteen sixties rock song (I could have just said ‘the 60’s’ couldn’t I as I doubt most of you are familiar with the rock music of the 1860’s).

The rock music so alluded is from 1960’s psychedelic group Lysergic Casserole who recorded just one album which ‘no-one has ever heard of’ and described by Noel Fielding as ‘the best band ever’ but then explaining that

they disappeared having took so much LSD they got trapped in their own guitar case

And the episode proceeds from there. There is no linear way to refer to this episode as it is beyond transcription if not description. You will either get tuned in to its own particular madness or look upon it aghast and askance before tuning out toward the lesser insanity of the BBC News at 10 or James May’s Things You Need to Know – James May is very likely in fact Noel Fielding’s TV Uncle – I do not know if that is helpful or pretentious of me – or both.

We see Lysergic Casserole’s guitar-case-trip as they experience Orson Welles having a romantic dinner with a cheese-cake, and then Welles pulling a skipping rope out of his…well I will let you use your own imagination here!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy Lysergic Casserole

Lysergic Casserole – the amount of times I have spelt this wrong over the years

Their music like all the music in the show is provided by Sergio Pizzorno of British rock group Kasabian – I was sceptical when I first heard of this collaboration not thinking Kasabian’s rather masculine swaggering feet-firmly-on-the-ground music would best serve Noel Fielding’s head-in-the-clouds whimsy – Mercury Rev or Polyphonic Spree would have been more fitting I felt – but Pizzorno’s music sits very comfortably with Fielding’s madcap visions.

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Diamond Back

Diamond Back

Later Noel Fielding decides to rescue Lysergic Casserole from their Guitar Case bound fate by erecting a ramp made of Ryvita! – it is not just their freedom he has in mind though, he considers that they might make a second album and he could be their manager! But his snouty nosed butler reminds him that the sixties was a half-a-century ago and like Austin Powers their respective mojo’s might not adapt to the transport to the present day…alas they and their Harley’s trajectory is toward the guitar-case of the rock-star they call Diamond Back – Diamond Back having risen from the swamps of Putney, his father a pet-shop junkie and his mother, well she had a hundred eyes. Clear? I hope not.

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy has comedy and music, that at least is established. It also has art. Much of the art is provided by Fielding but not all of it. Animation is provided by the show’s director Nigel Coan. Coan is another Boosh connection having provided its animation too.The Luxury Comedy sets are art and there is one scene where Noel Fielding himself is producing art. The most striking and impressing aspect of the program is its look – its visual swagger.

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Keep off the Chest

Artist at work – can you see what it is yet?

And as noted in one scene we see Fielding painting on canvas – we can assume this was done in real-time and condensed into TV-time – Rolf Harris used to do this kind of thing, well not quite this kind of thing!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - press-ups

The finished work

If this show is going to work for you you have to take it on its own terms. Concepts like narrative development and dramatic conventions are only going to get in your way. You have to go with its flow, let it get into your blood and nerves, let Noel Fielding get inside your head. If you are not prepared to do that then the Singing Detective and Celebrity Juice are also scheduled alongside it – their own particular brands of madness may be more accommodating of yours. Though these allusions to other channels imply a world before time-shifted TV of  +1 channels and endless repeats, of online players and PVR’s, and as if the most of you would be watching it during its first E4 Broadcast Thursday evening’s at 10 o’clock!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy with Andy Warhol

With his cleaner

I alluded to the Boosh lineage but not all of them are from that particular ancestral tree. For example Noel Fielding’s cleaner Andy Warhol. Yes that Andy Warhol. Well is there another Andy Warhol?! He is played by Tom Meeten. In this episode he is planning a vacation with Picasso and Keith Haring and has organised a cleaner replacement going by the name of Frida Kahlo! His suitcase was given to him by Jackson Pollack and his rucksack is borrowed from René  Magritte – not at all art for art’s sake this! – Fielding comments about the Magritte rucksack ‘Yeah it’s a nice design but probably gets a bit annoying’!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy René Magritte Rucksack

René Magritte Rucksack

Though this episode is called The Jelly Fox it is only in the second part of the show that mention is made of him! We see Little Chrissie and Spoon Snake and their crew on their way to meet The Jelly Fox. And who or what is the Jelly Fox? Well

he gives you what you need. He lives in a blue-fabric castle with creases in it. He will give you a tablet that dissolves in wine. To wipe away your past…

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy with Dolly

Dolly and the Warhol-cum-Kahlo Cleaner

We then cut back to Noel Fielding and another new (ir)regular character Dolly. Dolly is played by Doll Wells. Dolly has given him a face-painting of David Bowie. Except that she has painted a Tiger. We then see cleaner Frida Kahlo except that it is Andy Warhol wearing a dress. He wants to wear a dress in public but is uncomfortable in doing so, so passes himself off as Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo! – the usual cowardly recourse of the man in denial of their transvestism! Dolly advises him that he should not be ashamed of this. She then advises that she dresses up as a Fireman and a Baby and calls herself a Firebaby! Noel then wants to know whether she dresses with a fireman top-half and nappy or romper suit and a helmet. She explains the latter, obviously! He considers it a joke, she a serious concept. They then argue over this point. Getting nowhere they decide to consult Hawkeye – the complex technology that resolves the flight of balls in Tennis and Cricket not Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce of M*A*S*H* fame!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Hawkeye

Hawkeye declares

If only all dilemmas could be resolved this way! Hawkeye decides it is a Concept, and that is an end to it!

It is only at the show’s end that we actually encounter the Jelly Fox – the term plot-spoiler has no impact on a show like this but I won’t reveal it all the same.

If you should be watching this on the 4OD online player you may note a ‘More Like This’ option – but other than its previous episode there is almost certainly nothing more like this on E4 or any other TV channel currently….and I am thankful for this.

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy happily revels in its own wild imaginings. I am happy to revel along in it too – and I don’t have to take anything to do so. The whole psyche-shifting experience is all perfectly legal!Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - The Jelly Fox

Sorority Girls – Slooter Cahooter’s need not apply!

Sorority Girls together

The Real McCoy

I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member – Groucho Marx

Sorority Girls E4 Website Welcome Image

Arianna, Devan, Amelia, Hannah, Dominque and an old Yorkshire man (one presumes!)

I may have gotten Devan and Hannah mixed-up!

A sorority is an all-female, secret social organization for university students so says the E4 Program website – and according to that site they are a big deal at universities in the US. In British universities on the other hand they are no deal whatsoever.

Sorority Girls Chapter Meeting

A closed member meeting – just them and several million of us viewers!

Sorority Girls the reality show – by genre at least, how much of this series has much grounding in reality is debatable – in its first series from British production company 12 Yard Productions and currently airing on E4 aims to change that. Will this American export succeed or have we a failed British import on our hands?

Sorority Girls is not based on a sister show in the USA – they are hoping perhaps that students in British Universities will be inspired by watching it on TV and setting up their own Greek societies!? As likely to happen as Proms becoming a staple of British school life? Whilst E4 provides us details about the American Sorority Girls it is not forthcoming with details about the British pledges (more of that later!) so it is not even clear whether these British girls are even University Students themselves.

Or are the makers just hoping that we may just watch it as an interesting cultural and or cultish phenomenon like Amish:Worlds Squarest Teenagers and Big Fat Gypsy Weddings?

The E4 program website tells us that such societies ‘fosters growth and personal development within its members in two ways: publically through philanthropic works, social events and academic excellence, and privately through the use of ritualistic ceremonies, symbolism and closed member meetings’.

The five American cult-leaders sorry Sorority Sisters have set up home in  a spacious house in Leeds towards an inaugural British chapter. Fourteen will become five and those five will take over its running when the Americans go home. And provides a springboard if not for further British chapters then perhaps at least a second E4 series.

So then to this second episode which sees the pledges settling into their new home and first set of challenges and initiations.

Sorority Girls PledgeI pledge my allegiance to this E4 Reality TV show and will do whatever it takes to guarantee my fifteen minutes of fame, a spin-off show all-about-me on E4 and a spread in Hello Magazine.

Sorority Girls Sleeping Porch

We call this the sleeping porch, so says the House Mother, for there is one!

Triple-bunk beds to bond sisters together – if in bodily aroma at least.

Sorority Girl DominqueSorority Sister Dominique breezily explaining to us that it is Sorority tradition to kidnap members in the middle of the night put hoods around their heads and drive them to a secret location. Sort of Guantanamo-Lite!

Sorority Girls Hoods

Hooded – in the Sorority Colours of Pink and Indigo, naturally!

This also described as a bonding experience and one of them tells us with a straight face that this is something that they are going to look back on in twenty years time and remember! It is implied that the memory will be a fond one and not one that you might want to bury even as an eternity on YouTube ever-reminds you!

Sorority Girls - cloaks

Sorority Girls in cloaks – not a cult – honest!

Aren’t cloaks cool? – almost worth giving up your mind for just to get to wear one! At the secret location which is only revealed to successful sorority initiates – note that I am insidiously beginning to use the language! – as the rituals that take place there are sacred to the sorority – oh so this is not a profane act! One of the pledges on first seeing this secret sacred spot stated matter-of-factly that she thought it was a place where you take people to murder them! Their first test is to hold a block of ice to their heart in the shape of a Sigma symbol until it is fully melted – one initiate advises us that she covertly placed her ice under her arm-pit to speed the process up!

Sorority GirlsTheir next task is far less sinister – they being taken to the middle of a forest and abandoned! Well abandoned that is to orienteering and being split into two teams (the Grizzlies and the Ferrets, don’t ask!) to then navigate their way back to the House.

Sorority Girls - fake eyelashsWhile the pledges are busy getting lost in Leeds and its surroundings the Sorority team do a sweep of their room and confiscate any item not of the Sorority spirit – such as false eyelashes and fake tan!

Sorority Girls in black

Announcing the Grizzlies as the winners, the losing Ferrets are to be cast into the wilderness via Social Probation. Social Probation meaning that their pledge status is now provisional – that is their provisional membership is now provisional!! Both teams though will attend their first Present. A Present is a formal ceremony when the pledges are presented to their friends and family. But you need to know that it is Presents pronounced Pree-zents!

Sorority Girls Makeover

Sigma Gamma Makeover…J’accuse

As they are being given a Make Over by way of Preezent Preparation an initiate questions one of the Sorority Girls about her own fake-nails – implication ‘You hypocrite!’ and big mistake! For thinking for herself and not mindlessly accepting the Sorority Girl Group Think she will be one of the first to face losing her membership – known as the cull, sorry cut!

Sorority Girls - all in white

They’re all dressed in white, virginal white – their words!

Dressed in virginal white because Sorority Girls are if not virgins then chaste! However they are now told they must go on a ‘Grab date’ which means picking up a stranger off the streets in twenty minutes to be their chaperone for the first pledging ceremony that same night. Very chaste! By the way the term Slooter Cahooter (no really!) is meant as a derogatory term for a sorority sister who as dressed or behaved in a sexually inappropriate way.

Sorority Girls

Cold-dating! The Grizzlies as not on social probation are allowed to request dates from a Gym – because it is a better class of men there! The losing Ferrets though must pick up their dates on the Leeds streets. Surprising were the number of men so solicited who said ‘Yes’ – if someone walked up to me on the street and asked me for a date I am pretty sure my first response would be high suspicion! I guess the presence of TV cameras mollified some of these young men so requested!

Sorority Girls Presenting

I am not one woman but part of a collection of beautiful women, a petal on a rose…

A charming Socialist declaration written by these All-American girls – those reading the  pledge then promise to sever all ties with their old selves – remember they are not a cult! – cue camera panning to her perplexed boyfriend sitting in the audience.

Sorority Girls

Severed old-self?!

In the final section of the show the moment of reckoning arrives for the pledges.

Sorority Girls

The Judges…

Sorority Girls - in purple

…and the Judged

Sorority GirlsThe provisional provisionals, Nadia, Alex and Topaz. One whose Sorority sin was to think for herself, one who at their bonding party had a glass of wine in each hand, another who brought a male back to the Chapter Lodge after the party. These latter two examples of Sorority Girl errant behaviour are of nothing of course to implying one of your Sorority Girls is a fake-nail wearing hypocrite.

Sorority Girls

Being depearled

In the judges own words

You have been weighed and measured and found lacking

The girl so cut must remove her pink pearl necklace and slink off into the night – a petal pruned from the Sorority rose.

E4 has another new program called – wait for this! – Desperate Scousewives – like Sorority Girls it is TV I know that I should not watch but know also that I will! I just can’t help myself – like picking a scab.

Picking-a-scab Telly – have I just invented a new TV Genre!

Alphas and Misfits, Heroes and Villains

Misfits LogoAlphas cast photosA superpower is as much a curse as it is a blessing. It sets its heroes apart, it sets its heroes alone.

Alphas is a new US science-fiction drama from the Syfy channel about dysfunctional folks with superpowers currently airing on Channel 5. Misfits is a British offering of a similar theme and is back for its third series on E4.

It used to be easy enough when reviewing this genre as there were only a small clique of superheroes to cast back to – Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Wonder Woman… and a few others. And then there were those who whilst not necessarily what you would call superior there difference was such as to give them an edge over their fellow men and women – The Invisible Man for example.

Heroes

We can be Heroes…

This though was before 2006 and the arrival of NBC’s Heroes. Any super-power that could possibly be conceived of was it seems conceived of by the Heroes’ script-writers.

So with Alphas and Misfits you can play a game among yourselves to see which of the superpowers featured were first prototyped in Heroes. I say superpowers rather than superheroes because with both the Alpha and Misfits characters – if Misfits in particular – a number of these powers belong to those of less than heroic nature let alone super-heroic.

Alphas David Strathairn

The Good Doctor…

The Alphas in Alphas are a motley and disparate group of men and women brought together by Doctor Lee Rosen (played by David Strathairn) working for the US Government’ Department of Defence who is seeking to harness the alphas collective powers to help in the fight of good over evil (this being the comic-book story genre with its black and white morality) – like most such tales the Super Heroes are serving in effect as Super Cops – rounding up villains – and we can suppose some super-villains too, perhaps of Alphas gone bad, Alphas whose powers are being harnessed for criminal enterprises by an Evil Doctor – surely not?!

Super-powers used in the service of your country for the common good – almost a social democratic undercurrent if not socialist! The Misfits on the other hand use their super-powers for their own ends only and are not employed in any of their government’s various departments. And more of them shortly.

The current crew of alphas on the Good Doctor’s team are explained in detail on the Channel 5 program page but briefly there is Bill Harken who has the more traditional superpower of physical strength and stamina but untraditionally unlike Superman’s unlimited supply (Kryptonite not withstanding) has to conjure up this strength himself and cannot sustain it for very long.

Alphas Cameron Hicks and Bill Harken

Don’t mess with Bill

Next up is Cameron Hicks whose superpower is one of heightened balance – seriously I am not making that up! – his aim is flawless.

Next is Rachel Pirzad who has the rather cool power of being able to heighten any one of her five senses at any given time. Though this is clearly a power as much a curse has a blessing – consider a restaurant and with your sense of smell enhanced and the over-whelming aromas of the food from the kitchen and your fellow diner’s tables – consider too the over-whelming aroma of the scent of said fellow chefs and the diners – and we must assume for health and safety there would be a bathroom on site – well let’s not go there!

Then there is Nina Theroux who has the power of suggestion – to hypnotically override your thought – quite a sinister power really. The Heads of the Republican and Democrat Party will be on her trail no doubt along with countless media barons.

Alphas Ryan Cartwright

Ring my bell…

Finally there is Gary Bell who has the power to view and interact with wireless communications out of thin air – this is a very particular superpower but one in this ever connected web-age whose time clearly has come! He is also described as diagnosed with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder – he is challenging for his colleagues to work with and he is challenging for this viewer  to watch. Whether this is to the credit of the actor Ryan Cartwright and the Alphas scriptwriters or to the discredit of my own tolerance towards this condition I am not sure.

A strange brew of super-powers then – and the question then for Dr Rosen and we the viewers is whether it is potent enough to successfully fight crime and keep the US homeland secure.

With the Alphas it is assumed they were born with their powers and their being no standard metric tests, like IQ, for their talents it is only belatedly they have come to wider recognition and in particular the attention of Doctor Rosen. Here the Alphas can realise there are others like them, their poisoned-chalice superpower possession is not one they possess alone.

The Misfits in Misifts on the other hand were not born with their powers rather they were rudely visited upon them following a freak weather incident – and these powers have not just effected the main characters but other members of the public too. Misfits because the original quintet were all working on probation for various minor crimes and misdemeanors. Misfits has also done a clever trick of having another character as a broker of these weather-born powers allowing those so blessed, so cursed, to trade in one superpower for another superpower when they perhaps get bored with their current one or indeed find it far more of a curse than a blessing.

Misfit Joe

Joe, new Misfit in Town

For the third series, one of the original Misfits, Nathan Young, (played by Robert Sheehy) has left the show for Las Vegas but though what happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas a 7 minute mini-episode of his exploits are available to view for free on iTunes or online on Channel 4 here.

He has a replacement Rudy played by Joseph Gilgun who is as charismatic an actor as Robert Sheehy was. His is a very Freudian power as is Ego can split from his Id! Sometimes he and they are as one, other times his Id cuts loose to live a happy-free-loving, party-time existence. The ego meanwhile left at home to  sadly reflect his past misfortunes!

Again as with Alpha details of the Misfits are available on the E4 program page called Meet the Misfits. Though they have yet to update it with the new Misift.

Misfit Kelly Lauren Socha

Misfit Kelly

And for this series three they all back with new powers. Misfit Kelly Bailey (played by Lauren Socha) previously was able to read people’s thoughts – very much a curse as a blessing – do you want to know what someone might be thinking about you as you are talking to them?! Granted it will have some advantages – you would be a sizzling poker player, well at least until you got barred from every casino in the land, but quite an assault on ones delicate sense of self too I would think. Now she has the power of super-intelligence – she is a rocket-scientist! However though she can design elaborate plans for rocket ships her CV is of course absent the relevant educational and work experience for this particular field and thus none of her prospective employers take her seriously suspecting only that she must have stolen the plans she presents them!  She is then escorted from the room before exclaiming ‘I’m a fucking rocket scientist!’. This being a killing joke. I suspect it won’t be long – I am guessing episode 2! – before this particular power is traded in for something more useable.

The other female character is Alisha (played by Antonia Thomas) who previously had the power of sexual magnetism – very darkly as much a curse as a blessing. In this third series she now has the ability to see the world through another’s eyes – think the Bob Dylan song Positively Fourth Street and the lines “I wish that for just one time,You could stand inside my shoes, And just for that one moment I could be you” – yet another mixed-blessing power – I can think of many people who I might like to inhabit for a day or two but can think of many more who I would not want to occupy for even a second!

Misfits Curtis

Misfit Curtis

Fellow Misfit Curtis Donovan (played by Nathan Stewart-Jarret) has gone from time-bender to gender-bender. In the first series he could turn back time – which he usually did to save the butts of the collective Misfits – in this series he can shape-shift male to female – the tantalizing talent of transient transsexuality!

Final Misfit is Simon Bailey (played by Iwan Rheon) who is the default Misfit leader, even if this is not known to those he is leading – this because there are two of him – a Future version of himself physically and socially stronger than his current awkward self – who has knowledge of the Misfits as yet revealed purpose and destiny. He also had the power of invisibility – tsssk! what a traditional superpower! He being the only one of the Misfits who is content enough with his original powers not to one to  trade them in.

As noted unlike Alphas no agency whether government or private enterprise is aware let alone interested in making use of their collective powers. Neither are these misfits natural friends rather united in their common misfortune whereas otherwise would never be seen in each others company. This common misfortune as said being that they are all on community service. We might at least think with their new found powers that they might use it to break free from petty criminality but again by the end of the first episode of this new series they are re-arrested and back on probation!

It is clear that the first episode of the third series of Misfits is as much to establish the new Misfit Joe. What the rest of the series has in store for them I can but wonder but surely it must involve more than bumping of yet another of their probation officers, but maybe not.

Misfits is quite content for its Misfits to misstep from miserable mishap to miserable mishap. There is no grand goal in mind for these possessors of superpowers. Misfits has a dark humour, imaginative writing and continues to provide a platform for accomplished young British actors in the same way that Skins, Fresh Meat and The Inbetweeners do. I look forward the rest of this series irrespective of whether very much in particular gets resolved.

Alphas Anger Management

Rogue Alpha

The last episode I saw of Alphas was Anger Management which saw its team dealing with a rogue alpha who has the power to incite rage in those people who happen to be in his close proximity due to the huge release of pheromones – an unleashed rage so strong as to cause those afflicted to kill too. It so falls to the Alpha team to track down the culprit to prevent any more carnage and general human misery from occurring. In the process the alphas will get to know and understand each other a bit better and we the audience them.

And there lies the rub. I am not sure that I want to get to know the Alphas better whereas I am more than happy to spend time among the dystopias and dysfunction’s of the Misfits.

For science fiction shows like this to work we need to suspend not just our belief but our reason. Misfits accepts this and accepts that we the audience will do so too. Alphas though cannot accept this and the plots and characterizations sigh and sag as they strive to make us the audience take them seriously.

They should instead be getting on with telling their fantastical tales and letting the characters breathe and develop.

And this is what Misfits does so effortlessly, Alphas so ponderously.

The Ricky Gervais Show – kicking Ducks where the sun don’t shine

The Ricky Gervais Show Title PagePsstt!? Do you want to listen in to a pub-chat? If yes, then bring your own beers and settle down to The Ricky Gervais Show.

The Ricky Gervais Show was initially made for radio, broadcast on XFM, before later making the switch to TV, being commissioned by and broadcast on HBO, and shortly after on British Television courtesy of Channel 4. It is currently re-airing on E4.

It is one of those shows like Seinfeld and Father Ted I could watch on an infinite loop or as easily dip in and out of containing as it does so many standalone comedy gems.

The title is perhaps now a misnomer. The original radio show featured Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant with little broadcast input from Karl Pilkington, its show producer. But over the years his input has increased and now is pivotal and the show could just as well be called the Karl Pilkington Show – if almost certainly not having the same ratings-pulling power.

In any case the show works because of the sum of the Gervais Merchant and Pilkington parts, not due to any one of them left alone.

The Ricky Gervais Show Studio CartoonEach show begins with the three of them sitting in a studio behind a desk as Ricky Gervais introduces all of them to us as we watch each morph into cartoon caricatures of themselves.

And better prepared as cartoon forms to inhabit the surreal fantasy world of their rambling imaginations.

Merchant and Pilkington are captured pretty faithfully if Gervais not quite his spit as having the distinct style and look of Fred Flintstone  – whenever we are shown his wife she too as the uncanny resemblance of Fred’s wife Wilma – I have not seen Ricky Gervais’ wife but I am betting she does not look very much like Wilma Flintstone! The cartoon-style of the entire show is in the spirit of Hanna Barbara if with an audience of adults in mind.

Three people in a studio is a cheap idea for a TV program and just shows you don’t need millions of dollars or even thousands of them to make engaging telly.

The Ricky Gervais Show - bar sceneAs previously suggested The Ricky Gervais Show is like listening into a bar-room conversation – but being teetotal is not a prohibition to appreciating it and certainly you don’t need to be dirty drunk to get the best from it either though a beer or two may better ready your spirits for it.

The subjects are often random and rambling, sometimes making a point, other times pointless, and the pointless subjects being none the poorer for having little purpose.

There is much laughter in the Ricky Gervais Show despite no studio audience present or canned laughter on tap, rather Gervais and Merchant, and Gervais in particular, are often unable to contain their mirth and sometimes even reduced to tears by the statements of Pilkington.

The last episode I dipped into was the Future episode from Series 2 which re-aired Sunday November 6.

Future as you might imagine was their musings and Karl Pilkington’s in particular of how the future might look, in particular the not-too-distant future, toward this century’s end. And their predictions for how the 21st Century might pan out were never going to be as high-minded and rigorously researched as those pondered in the current Channel 4’s science series Brave New World with Stephen Hawking.

The Ricky Gervais Show - Future episodeThe first of which was read out by Gervais from an academic study speculating what the world might be like in 75 years time and considering that androgyny could have become a common-place. And this being the Ricky Gervais show and in particular this being Karl Pilkington this topic is not taken up but completely digressed with him retorting that ‘this isn’t what I’ve heard (!)…I’ve heard that we’re all going to go ugly’! And this because ugliness will need to act as a form of population control – ‘we won’t want to do it with each other as much!’.

The Ricky Gervais Show - Karl GoogledPilkington then continues on how we have changed physically over time and how this will likely develop with parts of our body becoming like our appendix, redundant! Giving as an example our little fingers ‘who don’t do much compared with our other fingers’ and this being the boozy logic of a pub another body part is not offered up as a redundant example but the chat changes track with Merchant then suggesting that in the future we will become ever more integrated with technology (which does actually mirror a prediction in the first episode of Brave New World regarding remote mind control but I digress!) giving the example of a chip in our head to allow us to access the world wide web directly, or more specifically the human mind home page Google!

This then leads Pilkington to make the metaphysical point of whether we will any longer be us  – where would we end and Google begin…but we did not linger on this sobering thought long instead moving on to BBC Quiz Show University Challenge and how Pilkington in awe of how much knowledge these Degree students have and how in order to try and get at least one question correct he answers ‘Egg’ for each! And that rather than even trying to answer the questions asked by quizmaster Jeremy Paxman he instead tries to predict which of the university students will answer the next question correctly! As said this is the conversational logic flow of alcohol accept they are in a studio with tea or coffee the only liquid available!

The Ricky Gervais Show - Evolution of PantsNext up is Satellite Navigation and how poorer our lives will be now we can never got lost on our travels! Pilkington asking whether Columbus would have found America if he had had access to GPS, based on the reasoning that ‘he only found it because he got lost’!

The show then moves onto Pilkington being asked to make some predictions for the future. As this was Pilkington I knew only to expect anything – and I was not disappointed. The screen-shot at the foot of this post lists his entire ‘Top Five’ and I will merely focus on three of his fevered imaginings.

HIs first one was that trousers would stop being made! His rationale being that ‘kids today are wearing trousers ever closer to around their their ankles’! So naturally we will come to a time when we just won’t bother wearing them anymore.

His second prediction was that we are all going to get (physically) weaker. The basis for this being that ‘they used to say an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ but now we are recommended five fruits per day. This is an observation that may not resonate outside of the United Kingdom!

His final conjecture was that there will be more letters in the alphabet. This because we are running out of words (!), then citing ‘Bozwellox’ (and no this word is not made up but a recent addition to Shampoo!) as an example of desperation for a plausible sounding new word.

Finally Merchant asked Pilkington what he would do if he discovered this was the final day on earth, not just for him but the whole of humankind. Merchant himself first reflected that he may smash up a bar and darkly that  he might even murder a person as there would be no repercussions and it would be both his and the victim’s final day on earth. Gervais commented that he would still be depriving that person’s final eight or so hours on earth before looking to Pilkington for what he would do. Pilkington pauses.

‘I’ve always wanted to kick a duck up its arse’!The Ricky Gervais Show The Future

Desperate Housewives – Death on Wisteria Lane

Gabrielle Solis Desperate Housewives Come on Over for Dinner

Gabrielle Solis – Spotted Ghost from her Past

The final episode of Series 7 of Desperate Housewives Come On Over for Dinner aired in the UK on Channel 4 and E4 this July – and inevitably for at least one cast member it was a fatal ending.

You might expect the highest body counts on TV to be in urbanscapes of high crime and low hopes like Shield or The Wire, or even a hospital city-based drama like ER. But no the highest proportion of murders per capita is Wisteria Lane – no coincidence perhaps that its narrator is herself a ghost of that place.

In the UK we have Midsommer Murders set in a seeming rural idyll in a Mid-England Shire and where again the per capita murder count is far higher than London based crime dramas such as the now deceased The Bill and the very much living Luther. Should you live in Midsommer then death will be sure to visit you soon and if not you then your loved ones or neighbours.

Desperate Housewives Series 7Desperate Housewives is the USA equivalent of these Suburban Murder stories.

I imagine the house-prices in Wisteria Lane are much lower than similar sized homes in nearby neighbourhoods.

In the penultimate episode And Lots of Security we see the appearance of Gaby’s step-father who she believed to have been dead and whom also raped her when a girl. Gaby’s step father Alejandro is played by Tony Plana – you may know him as another much more benign and cuddly father Ignacio Suarez to Ugly Betty. And the second Ugly Betty cast member to have shown up in Wisteria Lane following Wilhelmina Slater still resident as Renee Perry. Perhaps America Ferreira herself will yet find herself in Wisteria Lane.

Desperate Housewives - And Lots of Security

Gabrielle confronts Step Father

In the final episode Come On Over for Dinner Gaby’s past has caught up to haunt her where she lures her step-father to a clearing and confronts him at the point of a gun. This appears to us to have done the trick but he re-appears in her home when she is all alone bar her two young daughters. This time she is unarmed and he sets upon her again to repeat his terrible act – but fortuitously her husband Carlos returns home to nip this act in the bud by grabbing a lead-based candlestick-holder – always much more than a near-redundant household ornament! – and hits him hard on the head with it. It turns out that Carlos has done more than knock out Alejandro, he has killed him.

Desperate Housewives Come On Over For Dinner Gabrielle Step Father

Step Father confronts Gabrielle

During this episode a dinner has been thrown for Susan and Mike Delfino, in honour of their returning to their Wisteria Lane home, but with a difference in that each course takes place at the home of one of the guests. Desert is to take place at the home of Gabrielle and Carlos Solis yet it is child-abuser Alejandro who has got his just desert. The remaining residents though are on their way. Bree Van De Kamp is one of the first to arrive and on discovering the dead body and following their explanation suggests that she herself will be the fall-gal or at least help cover-up this murder for them. And why this seeming selfless gesture? Because her son Andrew was responsible for the death of Carlos’ mother Gloria several years earlier in a drunken road accident which she herself had covered up to prevent her son being sent to prison. This led to Carlos and Bree being estranged and this neat-story outcome allows them to become unestranged again.

Desperate Housewives Paul Young

Paul Young

In the previous episode Then I Really Got Scared Felicia Tilman behind the wheel of her car, on the run from her past crimes catching up with her, sees an urn containing her daughter Beth’s ashes fall off the passenger seat to the footwell and on moving to recover them loses sight of the road and veers into the path of an oncoming articulated lorry which totals the car and the end of the line for Felicia.

And the ashes of her daughter were they from natural causes? As if! – she had committed suicide in the Everything’s Different Nothing’s Changed episode by shooting herself in the head so as to provide a kidney for Susan Delfino feeling her life was worthless and this giving of her life to save another her one last chance at salvation.

And from what crime was she fleeing – from her near murder by lethal injection of Paul Young – who was only saved by the good fortune of neighbour Susan Delfino interupting her in the act. And why was Felicia Tilman attempting to murder Paul Young? Because as regular viewers will know he had murdered her sister. And why had he murdered her sister?! Because Felicia’s sister had murdered his wife Mary Ellis Young, the Ouija voice-over of every Desperate Housewife episode.

Also remember Larry Hagman’s brief appearance as Frank earlier this series when Lynette Scavo’s mother Stella re-marries Frank, himself a serial betrother, only to later expire while visiting Lynette’s family to have a family photograph taken and where ‘Cheese’ were the last words ever to be uttered from Frank’s lips! – at least death by natural causes!

Desperate Housewives Felicia Tilman

Felicia Tilman – be very afraid

And lest you have forgotten in Series 6 there was Eddie the Fairview Strangler and his serial killer trail of death and destruction – not strictly on Wisteria Lane but on an adjoining suburban street. In this sixth series were also the Witness Protection couple Angie and Nick Bolen and her ex-boyfriend and eco-terrorist (as too she was) Patrick Logan (played by Torchwood‘s very own John Barrowman). In another episode in this series a pilot has a heart-attack and the plane descends towards a built-up neighbourhood – naturally it should be Wisteria Lane!

And then in Season 5 Serial Killer Dave Williams.

I shall not list and catalogue all the other death and destruction in Wisteria Lane – save to remind you of the Tornado which laid waste to the whole of Wisteria Lane in Season 4.

I look forward Season 8 (commencing in the USA on ABC in September 2011) just be sure to note that if there is a new character on the Lane there is a more than even chance they have a murderous past to conceal or a murderous future before them.