The Sitcom Trials

Note: This review is from 2001

Review by Steve Bennett

Have we found the new Friends? The new Fawlty Towers? ask the posters.

Well, no.

I'm not even sure they've even found the new Home James with Jim Davidson.

This triumvirate of sitcoms is a pretty weak bunch, which is a particular shame as the co-operative Sits Vac project behind it is such an excellent way of developing new ideas, and it's certainly done better than this in the past.

The first of the three was straight out of the textbook. Which meant it was an entirely formulaic affair devoid of any twists or invention. Shallow characters set up a deception, struggle to maintain the lie, and are found out. The plot was as one dimensional as that

There was a little sparky banter between the two main characters - played by The Orange Girls double act of Charity Trimm and Miranda Hart, who also wrote the piece - but otherwise it was as unpredictable as an episode of Scooby Doo.

And this was the one judged the best by the audience, so we got to see the final scene.

In fact, this is rather an odd way to see sitcoms - seeing the first two acts of a show, then deciding whether you want to see its conclusion. For a good sitcom should surely work towards a skilful and dramatic conclusion, unexpectedly tying together all the story threads to create a satisfying whole. A sitcom without that denouement is surely missing something crucial.

Yet being truncated didn't seem to affect the pedestrian efforts on show here.

The second offering, set in a dot.com company, served up predictable one-dimensional characters, none of whom you could really care about, which didn't capitalise on the obvious frictions unsubtly created in the set-up.

And the final effort, a sitcom about a double-glazing salesman suddenly made redundant, showed some promise with a couple of corking lines. However these seemed artificially grafted on, rather than arising naturally from a script that contained far too much unnecessary story and not enough characterisation.

It was all well-performed, and some of the potential sitcoms suggested by the audience raised a smile, but the actual heart of the show - the writing - was definitely found lacking.

Review date: 1 Jan 2001
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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