Monday, 10 January 2011

Seven not out

Peep Show reached the end of its seventh season over the festive period, and it's just about holding together as one of Britain's strongest comedies.

What is strange about the show is that it can have reached such a landmark whilst still attracting what's just about fair to call a cult following. Talk to enough people about their favourite television shows and you can often share plenty of common ground. But when Peep Show enters the conversation, half will fall silent, look to the floor and mutter: 'Yeah, never really got into that.'

It's partly the two characters involved, intraverted nerdish-type who's reasonably nice but has the unnerving habit of picking fights with boilers, or deluded musician wannabe who's slipping slowly into the unsatisfying mid-life crisis with nothing to show for it.

Unless you can identify with certain attitudes, opinions and traits of either Mark or Jeremy (not a problem here- delusion, vaguely sociopathic etc), maybe there's a lot less to entertain the bored channel-hopper.

It has definitely become more 'mainstream'. The opening series was darker, more oppressive and moodier. But the development curve hasn't damaged the quality of the writing, and no matter how near it has come to 'jumping the shark' - season four's episode with Jeremy eating a dog perhaps came perilously close - I have hung with it with unrelenting loyalty.

It does need to stay away from the more slapstick elements though. The concluding New Year's episode in the latest series would have benefited from the awkward separation of Mark and Jeremy left hanging in the air as the finale, rather than Super Hans returning to beat Jeremy in revenge for an earlier transgression. And Mark feeding Christmas Dinner into a paper shredder in the penultimate episode was equally extreme.

But to have reached this point where it feels as though the show still has plenty more to offer and the characters are so well established in the viewer's psyche is huge credit to writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain. I'm still in for the long haul.

Good cop, bad cop
As a recent graduate I've spent plenty of time over the last several years watching mindless police-based reality shows at strange hours of the day. Road Wars, Police Interceptors, Motorway Cops- you know the sort. So I was pleased to see that my opinion of the utter hypocrisy the shows unintentionally promote was intact on the latest edition of 'Motorway Cops' on BBC One.

After spotting an oblivious citizen driving whilst talking on a mobile on the opposite side of the road, traffic officer Adam Toal waxed lyrical with a straight face about the dangers of such an action, before performing a speedy U-turn across the street, accelerating harshly and nearly clipping a parked car, and screeching off at high speeds through a residential area in order to catch up with her.

Sadly, the BBC's shows generally fall short of the high standards of Channel 5's Police Interceptors, which features various Essex policeman verbally masturbating over their new Mitsubishi Evo squad car, and driving it like the boy racers they spend their days chasing for the benefit of my viewing pleasure.