When 10 O'Clock limped to the end of its first run we wrote a piece on where it needed to sort itself out. Two episodes in to the second season seems a good time to perform a stock check on how things are going. (One episode would have been the obvious point but we were on holiday. SORRY.)
• The first obvious thing is how there really aren't many changes. Twenty minutes have been lopped off; Brooker is still slowly morphing into a crude charade of himself with only an occasional flash of his former brilliance; Mitchell is still talking rampant sense, albeit now with a cuddly beard; the fact that Carr is the most creative, funny and thought-provoking host remains utterly unexpected; Laverne seems simultaneously relaxed about the criticism of her largely lacklustre contribution, and uninterested in doing anything to remedy the situation.
• First up, Brooker. This week saw his poem on the Sun quite rightly go viral, where he railed against the paper's claims it was undergoing a witch hunt by listing all the groups it has attacked over the years. That's one great piece, but compare it to his ramblings in the first week on what's wrong with the Queen. Indeed, it was quite specifically the Queen and not the monarchy he went for, failing to separate a hard-working 85-year-old woman from the institution that he apparently has a problem with (a mistake Carr and Mitchell seemed to rightly hold him to account for afterwards). It had all the hallmarks of a lazy Brooker rant: the term 'forelock tugging' was wheeled out for the 85th time in one his missives on royalty, even though no-one knows what it means; the Network-esque fake rage about how much a crown costs compared to a hospital was bordering on embarrassing; the frustration that there's clearly something to be said about the obsequious coverage by the BBC that is submerged under such evidence-free opprobrium that it's hard to dig it out.
• Similarly, during a debate on banking bonuses, Brooker made a joke that he doesn't know what they do. He's paid enough money to broadcast his opinions to the country that the least he could do is some research on what that is. Just because it hasn't been covered on the front page of the Guardian website isn't an excuse for him not knowing the answer, and adds to the sense that they could rename the show Guardian Opinion & Debate Pages, LIVE!.
• It's interesting to compare and contrast Brooker with David Mitchell. Mitchell has written plenty about his dislike of football, but fair play to him, he got in Alistair Campbell and Clarke Carlisle to discuss what good it does in what was one of the best features so far this series. It originally seemed a strange decision to cut David Mitchell's monologue for this second season given its strengths, but what we got with this debate was challenged opinion rather than the rambling and seemingly undeveloping rage that Brooker is offering up.
Does anyone ever wonder what it would be like if Brooker had been coupled off and was all happy and went running twenty years ago?
• Does anyone ever wonder what it would be like if Brooker had been coupled off and was all happy and went running twenty years ago? Would the amazing attention to detail of TV Go Home, a site/book that provides the clear roots for a decent portion of his better material, ever have materialised? Just me then? Fine, as you were.
• Jimmy Carr remains amazing. His opening joke cracks are like those on 8 Out of 10 Cats but even sharper. There's enough courage and invention in the scripts for shoddier ideas like a Putin press conference that he still pulls it off. And he is clearly competent enough to think his own thoughts, such as a reasoned and rational defence of the Sun after Brooker's (also reasonable) criticism. In short, why can't everyone just BE REASONABLE instead of SHOUTING ALL THE TIME so they sound like SOMEONE WRITING IN CAPS ON THE INTERNET.
• Laverne was the easy target for many people's ire in the first season, and the first episode of this second run seemed like something had changed. Her piece on Stephen Hester (arguing that he should have been allowed to keep his bonus) may have still been a bit sixth form debate society, but it was a counterpoint to the views of most of the audience. But by week two she's back to the easiest of easy targets: mocking the US Republicans. It was joke-free, full of cheap shots (calling Mormonism 'bizarre', for one) and told viewers literally nothing they wouldn't already know about a over-covered matter.
• The audience are still whooping like its SM:TV Live.
• You know, it's actually getting quite scary how much sense Jimmy Carr talks. A show where him and David Mitchell just talk in a reasonable manner with interesting and evidenced points of view would be The Nuts.
• Please someone do something about the godawful titles. This is supposed to be satire, not the cover of a 1999 Ibiza Chilled album.
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