This week I’m turning cultural. Oh, yeah, I’m supposed to be cultural all the time according to my blog title but this time… It’s high culture! But if I told you that Chekhov could be funny, would you believe me?
Well remarkably Chekhov: Comedy Shorts (SkyArts) has found a way to do just that. The Bear starred Julia Davis as a widow who’s been mourning over the death of her husband and won’t go out of the house. She’s visited by a man, played by Julian Barratt, collecting up debts who insists she pays him before his house is repossessed. Cue a fast-paced battle of wits – and the sexes – which makes half an hour feel like ten minutes.
The best performance is given by Barratt who fits his role perfectly. The little soliloquies and mumblings worked brilliantly with his style, familiar to anyone who has seen him do something similar in The Mighty Boosh. But to be honest all the actors (all three of them) do really well with their material, and you’d never know you were watching Chekhov. It was high-culture made completely accessible.
In slightly more lowbrow TV, Raising Hope (Sky1) is a quirky family comedy focused around a hapless twenty-something loser who is bundled with a baby after having a one night stand with a mass-murderer.
Yep, it sounds ridiculous. But this is from the creators behind My Name Is Earl, and in a similar vein it follows a bunch of trailer-trash people who underneath it all have hearts of gold. Admittedly, the indie style and very quiet humour probably isn’t for everyone and it isn’t as in your face as a Modern Family but it’s still very charming and inoffensive, making it a lovely winter warmer.
Finally, a double bill of Robert Webb. Firstly, he continued his role as the chauvinistic lothario Jez in Peep Show (C4). Again, this is a comedy not to everyone’s taste. But for those who buy into the first person cameras and internal dialogues it’s a real treat: sometimes crude but always funny. This week’s best bit: the fleeting glimpse of Sophie’s face as a midwife checks her progress. That split-second was comedy gold.
Following directly on from Peep Show was Robert’s Web (C4), an irreverent look at the news from the perspective of the Internet. Some of the material was genuinely funny – I always love laughing at the comments of Daily Mail little Englanders – but other bits missed the bullseye somewhat. Still, Peep Show is a hard act to follow so maybe seen at a different time the show would have been more humorous. If I record it next week and watch it when Peep Show has left my funny bones then maybe I’ll laugh more…