Thursday, March 27, 2008

Politics: Having A Laugh!

Absolute Power  is a gem of a program. Starring Stephen Fry and John Bird, it consists of two seasons, each containing six episodes. The co-stars play the officers of a major public-relations firm. As professional as they are cynical, they specialize in 'spinning' what appear to be major public-relations disasters into assets for their clients, all high-profile. 

For anybody who enjoys comedic spoofs of politics, I'd recommend several other shows as well. This list would include the following: Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister (a sequel to the first show). It's a delight watching the interplay between the minister (Paul Eddington) and his chief civil servant (Nigel Hawthorne). For a reality-based drama about political machinations, The Plot Against Harold Wilson is certainly worth watching.

Root Into Europe, a mini-series starring George Cole, is not, strictly speaking, a political comedy or drama, but it would likely appeal to anyone who enjoys any of the above-noted programs. Cole plays Henry Root, and the program follows the travels of Root and his wife throughout various European countries. Henry considers just about any place outside of Great Britain to be barely civilized, and his cynicism is touched with just the right amount of gentleness. Though his views are English-centric, he is really a basically gentle man.

The Thick Of It was a recent series, including several 'specials',  produced in 'mockumentary' style (similar to The Office, in that respect). Starring Chris Langham and Peter Capaldi, it also offered a scathingly cynical view of politics. For example, on the way to make a speech favoring one side of an issue, a minister is informed that the party-line has changed, and he now has to change his speech in accord with the new line. 

This Is David Lander offered six episodes, also in 'mockumentary' style, with Stephen Fry portraying a crusading political reporter. Highly recommended.

Mock The Week is a fun celebrity quiz show about recent politics. The participants are all noted comedians, and host Dara O'Briain's opening monologues are always funny and biting. Five series have already been completed. Also, there's always the classic politics/news sketch show Not The Nine O'Clock News.

Two shows which lean more towards the gentler side of a comedic look at politics, but still very enjoyable and well-written, are My Dad's The Prime Minister and No Job For A Lady (starring Penelope Keith). For an over-the-top view of politics and politicians there's always the classic Rik Mayall's New Statesman. 

Finally, I wouldn't want to forget an excellent show based on fact: Alan Clark Diaries. This six episode series is actually based on the diaries of former minister Alan Clark. 

There's certainly a lot here to whet the comedic appetite of anyone interested in the political scene.

My website can be accessed here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

World of Lee Evans

World of Lee Evans aired in 1995. This was a short series, only four episodes, each about twenty-five minutes. If you've seen Evans either doing standup or in his excellent short-lived sitcom Lee Evans, So What Now!, then you're familiar with how much of his talent lies in physical humor, movement and facial expressions. Still, words are an important part of these performances. On the other hand, the 1995 outing is almost a return to the world of the silent comics: Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd. There's a minimum of dialogue, usually just brief comments. Most of the comedy in these four episodes relies on physical humor, much of it hilarious. It often revolves around misunderstandings and conflicting expectations. The other performers get right into the spirit of things. It's just regrettable that only four episodes were made.

[My website is at:]