I can barely contain my rage. I have a tingling at the base of my neck, a cold shiver down my spine. My eyes water and my ears pop…David Mitchell and Robert Webb are writing a sitcom, of all things.
Sitcoms p*ss me off. The occasional gem can undoubtedly be dug up from amongst the dross, but when a comedian of the quality of Jack Dee, or actors like Robert Lindsay and Zoe Wanamaker can’t save the primetime sitcom then I have little hope for Mitchell and Webb, much as I loved Peep Show. The majority of sitcoms are just crap. You sit down to watch the first episode eager for a laugh, but more than that, in the hope that there’ll be a decent story, but halfway through you’re on the balcony having a cigarette whilst the TV plays to an empty room.
The problem is that all that is funniest about human relationships, that bedrock upon which a sitcom is built, isn’t suitable for a mainstream primetime audience. So we end up with these boring pieces of dross like My Family, Beautiful People and Hyperdrive. It takes a writer of remarkable sensitivity, combined with exactly the right cast, to produce a decent sitcom, and it makes me both angry and sad that I can be so certain that Mitchell and Webb’s sitcom will just add to the canon of horse sh*t we’ve become accustomed to.
That Mitchell and Webb look showed that they haven’t the nuance or understanding of any particular eccentricity to write anything riotously funny, unlike Graham Linehan’s wonderful skewed stereotypes in Black Books and Father Ted or Simon Pegg’s sharp portrayal of wasted youth. They’re great actors, but they just don’t have the requisite way with words to put together a decent sitcom.
There’s already too much perfectly good talent being wasted on idiotic, unoriginal shows. Please, Mitchell and Webb, don’t add to that list.
By Chris Harding