Ideal Review: Taking a Gamble On Vegas

May 11, 2009 by  
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IDEAL, Ideal, Monday 11th May, BBC3, 10.30pm ALERT ME

Not having seen the previous 4 series of this BBC comedy, I found myself at a loss to make sense of what exactly was going on.

From a surreal musical opening featuring people in cartoon animal masks, the episode didn’t get any more lucid as it went on. Not a great way to win over new viewers. But then there were some very funny moments from Vegas’ likeable protagonist Moz, a dopey weed dealer from Manchester, and the show’s quirky cast of characters.

The most bizarre of which is undoubtedly Cartoon Head – a mute tough guy who always wears a cartoon mouse mask. All very strange indeed.

As we enter Moz’s weird and wacky world we discover his girlfriend is in a coma after a run in with some local gangsters. Throughout the episode she props up the headboard of their bed in the crummy bed-sit they share while a host of assorted clients do their best to wake her in their own unique way. One of my favourite bits was the arrival of glam rock duo Silicon Valet whose front man thinks his Messiah-like abilities (warming a mug of coffee up with his bare hands) will rouse Nikki from her coma. His warning to Moz that it may take a while elicits the perfectly timed deadpan, “well let’s face it; you can’t be in a coma and a rush.?

Further quirks are thrown into the mix with the inclusion of Nikki’s coma-induced hallucinations about what is going on around her.

While many of the jokes hit home, and you do get the impression that some of the characters could be interesting, as a first time viewer I was not sold on Ideal. It seemed like little or no effort had been made to open up the plot to anyone other than dedicated fans. Although I eventually managed to make sense of Moz and his situation there is still the little matter of the masked vicar and the bloke nailed to a wall who popped up on a couple of occasions.

I’m all for comedy that flees screaming from the inane Two Pints of Lager template, but Ideal, with it’s sharp sarcasm a la Early Doors and offbeat surrealism of The League of Gentlemen, has all the artistic tonality of a pair of Siamese twins with their shoelaces tied together, hopelessly running in opposite directions.

Jack McKay