02 July 2007

I have been a poor writer of late, for which I apologise. I have many posts near conclusion, and I need to pull my finger out really. Anyway, here is something I wrote in application for a Channel 4 job for which I applied recently. As I didn't get that, I might as well post it here. My thoughts on a Channel 4 programme. Hopefully getting something posted will gird me into action:

I wanted to write on the excellent one-off Mark of Cain but, in honesty, I have to give the nod to Peep Show. I am a big fan of comedy, watching whatever I can in the genre. As a result, it takes a really well-written programme with believable characters and unbelievable situations to really impress me; Peep Show impressed me from the beginning.

The initial episodes seduced me with their strange sense of the understated. From the theme tune that echoed Tom Waits compositions, to the point-of-view perspective, to the fact that both main characters were geeks (albeit to different degrees of overtness), Peep Show felt like something new; a feeling I hadn’t really felt in British comedy since Brasseye or Spaced. What I really liked about the first series was the wonderful dialogue, both internal and spoken, that defined the characters far more clearly than their embarrassing deeds ever could.

I was initially disappointed when the second series appeared, due to an ostensibly contrived effort to ‘sex up’ the show. I thought this due to the new, rock, theme tune (I have admittedly now learned to love ‘Flagpole Sitta’), and all the random sex and marriage that seemed to be happening. I was pleased to learn the error of my ways when I bought the DVD set last year: not only were the episodes I had seen better than I thought, but I had apparently watched only half the series. Watching some scenes, like the poker game, had me in stitches and were a revelation.

Whatever I thought of the second series, series three was complete salvation as far as I was concerned. Super Hans in particular was fantastic, especially in the episode where everybody was trying to get everybody else sectioned.

That reminds me of one of my favourite Peep Show facets: the way the characters were used, in a very subtle way, as mouthpieces for various social movements. So Jeremy is the Eternal Student, vocally opposed to what he sees as ‘the system’, but either unable or unwilling (or both) to actually do anything about it. In direct conflict with this is Mark, in an almost identical psychological situation, but on the right wing side of the coin; conservative (and Conservative) in world outlook, he is resigned to his fate as saloon-driving family man in the suburbs, but is brilliantly terrified of this eventuality. He tries to escape the straitjacket of destiny, but seems to intentionally develop self-handicapping strategies.

The lesser (in stature) characters are also perfectly pitched. Super Hans, while a caricature, is absolutely compelling. His character high point for me was, in a moment of unintentional (on his part) satire, when he referred to crack as ‘more-ish’, perfectly lampooning the current trend for euphemising addiction by the advertising industry. When the women are added to the mix – such as the devil/angel combination of Toni and Big Suze – that truest comedy cliché comes true: put great characters in any situation, and they write the comedy themselves.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think any of the blogs I frequent have made a post between them lately. The weather must be too nice...

    I agree completely on the Peep Show characters as microcosms of various social catagories; it's always something me and my brother have loved about it. Mark is effectively an older, corporate Jez; the only reason he doesn't have mates like Jez does is because he's become too jaded and unstable to tolerate them (it's clear that Jez secretly hates Super Hans just as much as he admires him...)

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