Thursday, September 27, 2012

I still love British television

Ramblings Post #201
We plan. We all plan. We plan to get in shape, clean the kitchen, landscape the yard, get new furniture, learn a new language, run a marathon, take a dance class, become a better person. And that's just for today, there is also what we plan for tomorrow. But mostly, we plan, then find a comfy spot on the couch and dig into that bag of potato chips, and click until we find something to watch. But not I. But not until tomorrow. My tummy hurts. 

A few years ago, I found what was to me a new show. It was fresh, like nothing I'd ever seen, looking like part improv, part painstakingly choreography, a deft mix of British comedy, satire and political commentary. Called The Thick of It, it revolved around the characters in a mythical office of a British cabinet post shown in a way that looked more like real life than anything I'd ever seen, including reality TV and documentaries. And at the center of it was a character called Malcolm Tucker, a character that comes across as living breathing personification of everything that is wrong about whichever political party it is you oppose. He swears, he browbeats, he threatens, he scorches the earth behind him and is not even afraid to brag about it, but he is what makes government run.

Well, Malcolm is back.

Malcolm Tucker terrifies

I found new episodes of show on Hulu, and they're in the free section! There is now a complete season three and they are shooting a fourth now. I've been catching up and whoever writes this hasn't missed a beat, unlike some "revived shows" I won't mention. Because the actor that played the Minister in the original series got arrested in real life, they've got a new Minister for Malcolm to abuse, one who he chose over, as he puts it, "drawing a smiley face on his own right buttock." The third's season's first episode is her introduction and Malcolm "tactfully" explaining on the her first day on the job she's got to choose between making her husband resign his job because its an unintentional political liability, or changing her daughter's school because it is also an unintentional political liability.  Because he just doesn't want to have to deal with both. This against the backdrop of the core office staff subtly stabbing each other in the back in case the new minister wants to let someone go.

And that was just the first episode of  the season. The second episode was even funnier.

The language is a little racy, apparently the Brits can get away with a bit more than prime-time in the US. And the slang is still sometimes a little hard to follow, but you can get the gist of it. The story is the thing. Crisply written, dense and detailed, with actors who appear to be either truly committed to the roles or don't know they're being filmed.

I lamented back then that we'd get a watered down version in America, and we did with HBO's comedy Veep starting actually funny actress Julia Louis-Dreyfuss as the Vice President. Maybe it's because I've seen the original that I can't get into this version, or maybe because it hits a little close to home - we actually have a VP and I know what the job entails as opposed to me not being sure if the ministry used in the original actually exists. I think its an existential need for the disbelief to be believable. Or something.

In any case, I now have something worth watching. Hulu even has the first two seasons in case you want to catch up. It is good stuff. True, you will have to watch on computer, but good television is hard to come by. Maybe I'm just happy it doesn't have vampires.   

I don't need better television. I just need better access. I almost like Hulu now.

Barkeep, get me some Guinness. No, wait that's Scottish. Some um...something English. Whatever. 

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