Real Daniel O'Donnell Show Presents: The Clock Hour

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

If you were genetically creating the ideal sketch team, you couldn’t hope for better pedigree than this: fusing the DNA of 66.7 per cent of uber-inventive trio The Trap with 100 per cent of Victorian freak show weirdos Congress Of Oddities, plus the guy who warmed up the studio audience for Carol Vorderman’s Sudoku Live.

The result is The Clock Hour; a hugely ambitious collection of off-the-wall sketches, that sometimes overreachs itself, but is never less than fiercely creative.

All is introduced by our sinister, cloaked host, Avis Sherman – aka stand-up Michael Legge – who melodramatically announces what pretty much amounts to a series of linked Twilight Zone spoofs. The comic loves to ham it up whenever possible, so is in his element here.

In fact, all the actors get to play to their strengths; not that they don’t all have – and need – great versatility. Nobody makes a better ethereal nutjob than Zoe Gardner, which she gets to demonstrate best as a too-polite ghost, while Margaret Cabourn-Smith vamps it up majestically, especially as irritatingly wisecracking Hollywood siren June East (geddit?). Paul Litchfield excels in mixture of low-level creepiness and camp, while Jeremy Limb is best as a sweet-natured everyman.

The writing is bold, so when it works it’s superb. There are certainly some memorable creations and sketches here, with some outstanding off-the-wall lines. And the genuinely unexpected twist to the insult-laden Time Machine sketch is sheer brilliance. Multimedia is used to great advantage, too, with professionally-produced video insets, such as the wonderful BBC News video.

But being so adventurous comes at a price. Some sketches just don’t hit home, seeming to be on a completely different plane to the audience, however much conviction and style goes into the presentation. But the idea is always pursued with dogged determination and it’s never too long before the next harp glissendo heralds another sketch.

The death-or-glory approach means this fruitful collaboration will be adored by some, while others will almost certainly be left baffled. If that’s not the sure sign of a cult hit, I don’t know what is.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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