The Morgana Show - In The Press
While my howls of pain at the continuing run of Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights - aka a televised version of the Nirvana b-side I Hate Myself And I Want To Die - were unnoticed, The Morgana Show gets stronger and stronger.
The show by a relative newcomer is full of great characters and solid sketch comedy. Comparisons with Kenny Everett's show with its grotesque gallery of characters and childish desire to shock have been made and they're on the money.
I loved Kenny Everett's schtick as a kid and Morgana carries on that tradition. Her takedowns of Cheryl Cole, Danni Minogue and Fearne Cotton are particularly brilliant. Skip Frankie Boyle's boorish balderdash and watch the Morgana Show instead.
Mic Wright, AOL, 15th December 2010
Hands up anyone who's heard of Morgana Robinson. Despite her near invisibility on the comedy radar, Channel 4 has obviously decided Morgana is The Next Big Thing and commissioned an entire series based on... what, exactly?
Judging by the first episode, the answer would appear to be her ability to match Frankie Boyle in the use of the f-word, and her passable imitations of Fearne Cotton and Cheryl Cole. Sadly her own characters are little more than lazy, one-dimensional stereotypes that merely limp off the page.
Robinson's most "famous" creation, 14-year-old Gilbert the uber-nerd who's attempting to make a video diary with the help of his granddad, has apparently already garnered a following on YouTube. Despite the standard-issue geek clothes and inch-thick lenses, however, Gilbert barely passes for 17, never mind 14. Robinson also takes whining teenspeak to such a level that the dialogue is basically indecipherable.
Some sketches, like the bickering TV reporters, are mercifully short. Others, most notably Madolynn the past-it Hollywood starlet making a complete fool of herself in a restaurant, drag on interminably. Vicious drunks are not funny, particularly with lines like "This toe was caressed by Martin Scorsuzu". Even less tasteful is an attempt by her husband Norman to excuse her behaviour. As she topples off her chair, taking the tablecloth and crockery with her, he turns to their mortified companions and mutters "She has Asperger's". Boyle would have been proud.
Equally unlikeable are Joyce and Barry Dickens, funeral directors from Chumley, Yorkshire. Barry is a mine of useless information who never shuts up, much to the annoyance of acid-tongued wife Joyce, who never misses an opportunity to tell him what an absolute cretin he is. "You know the Aztecs used to burn stupid people, Barry". And what could be more hilarious that watching the two of them get all lovey dovey during a memorial service while the poor unfortunate corpse has his legs sticking out because Barry is too much of a dozy git to pick the right size of coffin.
The annoying commuter on a train who shrieks into his mobile the entire journey, a couple of senile Chelsea Pensioners who appear to have wandered in from a Harry Enfield/Paul Whitehouse sketch, Lady Gaga attempting to steer a riding mower in some kind of bizarre headgear - on it goes, all accompanied by the obligatory canned laughter. Heaven knows if it was performed in front of a live audience the silence would have been deafening.
Robinson's talents obviously lie in impersonation rather than straight acting - the highlight, such as it was, of the first programme was a 12-year-old Boris Johnson attempting to win a prep school debate by running roughshod over the opposing team. But alas she is no Catherine Tate - the lack of memorable characters does nothing but drag the show down.
If The Morgana Show had started out as a one-off pilot, and Robinson and co-creator James De Frond had been given a chance to fine-tune the sketches over time, the show might have evolved into something passable. But dumping her in at the deep end with a whole series to fill just highlights the weakness of the material. Back to the drawing board on this one.
Arlene Kelly, Suite 101, 7th December 2010
Whoever decided to commission this series should be fired and never allowed to work in television again. Not since Horne and Corden had the temerity to think that just because they had been on a successful (and massively overrated) sitcom that they could write on their own has a sketch show annoyed me to this degree.
Amazingly, The Morgana Show somehow manages to be lazier and more dim-witted than Horne & Corden. I refuse to label it as a comedy because after half an hour of TV time it didn't raise a single laugh. Not even an acknowledgement smile. I thought the caricatures on The Impressions Show were terrible but that was before The Morgana Show plopped onto the screens. Do we really need another series that relies on hackneyed sketches about Fearne Cotton? And what the hell is the Boris Johnson stuff all about?
I find the whole thing offensive. Not in a politically correct, "you shouldn't be saying those things, it's a bit cruel" kind of way (although that is a valid point) but just imagining the smug crassness of everyone involved in its production and slapping each other on the back thinking that what they are making is in any shape amusing or entertaining. Morgana Robinson is certainly confident in her performances but she's not funny.
Steven Cookson, Suite 101, 4th December 2010
Given the extraordinary amount of swearing in The Morgana Show, it's a little difficult to recommend it.
Worse, a lot of the first in this new series from comedian Morgana Robinson was short on original humour. However, her take on vapid TV presenter Fearne Cotton was extraordinarily good and almost worth wading through the dross for. Watching Fearne being fired from a cannon was certainly the TV highlight of my week.
Paul Connolly, The Daily Mail, 2nd December 2010
Call me easily pleased but from the moment I heard the line 'I'm Fearne Cotton and I'm going to break my face into little pieces! Amazing! Ow!' I was on side with The Morgana Show. Some targets are crying out for a good kicking and every so often Morgana Robinson nailed one.
Morgana who? Exactly. When an unknown comedy talent goes straight from obscurity to a headline show it smacks of behind-the-scenes string-pulling. Robinson's has come courtesy of Russell Brand's agent, a regular at the restaurant where she used to work. But there's a sweet old-school showbiz lilt to that story, so we won't hold it against her.
Besides, if she was rubbish it wouldn't work. But while The Morgana Show, which welds together celeb impressions with character skits out of the Little Britain/Catherine Tate mould, is a hit and mish-mash affair, the best bits will make a great best bits clip on YouTube. The daytime TV presenters who mutter 'like each other, like each other' under their breath while bitching their brains out are at the top of my list.
The smart thing is, at the end of the first episode I had no more idea of what Morgana really looks like than I did at the beginning. Which was zero. Two years down the line, when she's been on everything from Mock The Week to Celebrity Juice and we're sick of the sight of her, the thrill will be gone. For now, she gets the benefit of the doubt.
Keith Watson, Metro, 1st December 2010
Continuing Tuesday night's sour comedy hour, The Morgana Show is a brand new five-part sketch show that's similarly humorless and prolonged to Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights - although there's a glimmer of potential because its star, Morgana Robinson, is clearly a talented performer and mimic. It's just a shame the writing can't match her. Unusually, Channel 4 commissioned this show after being impressed by Morgana's self-made pilot, without testing the water by showing it as part of the Comedy Lab season, or on late-night E4.
It's great someone had faith in this show, and for someone like Morgana to be rewarded for her proactive nature in getting themselves a TV show made, but that made the disappointment of The Morgana Show itself cut even deeper. I wanted this to be a comedy treasure to discover and spread the word to others, but it turned out to be fool's gold.
It's another character-based sketch show; one with a slight League Of Gentlemen vibe, spliced with sketches you'd expect to see in a darker version of The Fast Show. Indeed, Morgana Robinson reminded me of Caroline Aherne at times, particularly during a sketch where she plays the owner of a funeral parlour married to an oafish husband. Other characters include: Madolynn, a prima donna Hollywood star now in her middle age; a pair of news reporters who trade insults with each other before the cameras roll; and homemade videos featuring a boy called Gilbert, filmed by his long-suffering granddad on a camcorder in the early-'90s. There are also a smattering of celebrity impressions: a good approximation of Cheryl Cole (seen reading an uncouth Dannii Minogue's Tarot cards backstage on The X Factor), Boris Johnson as a bumbling public schoolboy, and a truly uncanny Fearne Cotton (repurposed as a hyperactive daredevil stuntwoman, above-left).
By the end of this first episode, one thing was clear: Morgana Robinson's a talent in need of some good writers. Her Fearne Cotton impression was marvelous, and Gilbert is a convincing character with a lot of reality to him, but practically everything fell flat because it wasn't especially funny (no memorable punchlines or clever twists), and too many characters felt derivative (the monstrous actress cliché, bickering news reporters, etc.)
Dan Owen, Dan's Media Digest, 1st December 2010
The Morgana Show couldn't be more different from Frankie Boyle's show [which was scheduled before it]. Slow-burning, character-based sketches which often didn't go anywhere but were mostly watchable purely because of the performances. Morgana Robinson came to the attention of Channel Four executives after sending in a home-made DVD and was fast-tracked to the cast of the TNT Show before being given her own series.
Many of the sketches featured brilliantly crafted characters, such as has-been Hollywood actress Madolynn, but lacked any funny lines. There's no doubt that Robinson is an excellent character comedienne, and does the best impression of her good friend Fearne Cotton that you are ever going to see, but too many of the sketches felt like nothing more than a showcase for her acting abilities without providing much humour. There were some exceptions, such as a really enjoyable sketch about a couple who run a funeral home.
While it wasn't brilliant, there was enough quality in The Morgana Show to deserve a look at the second episode, which will feature some more characters. Which is probably more than Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights deserves, sadly.
Transmission Blog, 1st December 2010
The Morgana Show review
My advice (for what it's worth)? Shorter sketches, more celebrity impressions and lose the laughter track.
Written by Jane Murphy. Orange TV Blog, 1st December 2010
The Morgana Show, Channel 4, review
Ceri Radford reviews the new sketch-based comedy show starring new talent Morgana Robinson, whose impersonations include Cheryl Cole and Fearne Cotton.
Written by Ceri Radford. The Daily Telegraph, 1st December 2010
We must part with our celebration of female- fronted comedy, thanks to The Morgana Show, a witless sketch vehicle for newcomer Morgana Robinson. Why has she got her own show? Is it because her agent is the powerful John Noel, who numbers Russell Brand among his clients? I wonder.
Like the similarly charmless Katy Brand, Robinson's toothless parodies of the likes of Boris Johnson and Cheryl Cole are an apolitical affirmation of the celebrity status quo, not an attack on it. They lack the backbone required for anything other than staggeringly uninspired whimsy.
And when Dom Joly escapes from the jungle, someone should alert him to The Morgana Show's suspiciously familiar bellowing mobile phone businessman. Shameless stuff.
Paul Whitelaw, The Scotsman, 1st December 2010
Morgana Robinson is the new comedy wunderkind who has gone straight from bit parts in cult shows to her own five part-series. But there's a huge gulf between being funny for 90 seconds in one sketch and holding together a whole 30 minutes. The opening sketch of Bozza as a schoolboy with Tourette syndrome was quite funny - if rather familiar - for about 20 seconds. Dragging it out for a couple of minutes killed it entirely. The rest of the show followed much the same pattern. At her best, Robinson is one of the sharpest and funniest comics around: unfortunately, this show didn't do her any favours.
John Crace, The Guardian, 1st December 2010
About 10 minutes in, The Morgana Show, a new comedy showcase for Channel 4, was going to get a really terrible review. The opening sketch - a gag about Boris Johnson at prep school - combined a weak impersonation with a silly and unfunny script. The Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue take-offs weren't much better and a sketch featuring Gilbert - a teenager with learning difficulties who stars in his own home-made television show - struck me as bullying in its comedy, the kind of television that will go down very well with callow 14-year-olds, but will make life absolute hell for any of their contemporaries unfortunate enough to wear bottle-bottom glasses. But then Morgana released the bully in me by doing a wickedly accurate impression of Fearne Cotton, a presenter who richly deserves all the mockery she can get. And I laughed at the running gag about Lady Gaga, glimpsed doing banal household tasks in wildly improbable costumes. By the end, I even laughed at Gilbert, thanks to the detail of Robinson's performance. But I'm not proud of myself.
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 1st December 2010
I know what you're thinking: Morgana who? The funny girl isn't a household name, but we expect that to change after Morgana Robinson's debut tonight.
The 28-year-old's impressions made such a big, er, impression on Channel 4 talent spotters that she got her own five-part series without having to do the usual Comedy Showcase pilot first.
Her Fearne Cotton sketch is so spot on you'd be forgiven for thinking the Radio 1 DJ was doing a cameo, and being gorgeous as well as fluent in Geordie makes Cheryl Cole an obvious target.
She does a mean Dannii Minogue too but many of her comic creations - like a faded Hollywood siren - are characters she's created from scratch. And she's just as funny when she's dressed up as a fella. You might have already seen her awkward pre-teen Gilbert on C4's TNT Show and she also does Boris Johnson as a schoolboy. This may be the first you've heard of Morgana - it won't be the last.
Jane Simon, The Mirror, 30th November 2010
Characters in Morgana Robinson's new sketch show include a washed-up Hollywood actress, some local news reporters who go overboard with the light-hearted banter ('We like each other!' they boom) and some grunting hicks. It's loud, bold and physical - the sort of show that will probably beat you into submission.
Metro, 30th November 2010
Aware that such a tsunami of black comedy may leave some drenched in negativity, Channel 4 have wisely decided to bookend Tramadol Nights with The Morgana Show, which fires off in a very different tangent, but still contains an awful lot of language usually chewed up by a bleep machine. It features a range of characters who you may actually warm to, including Boris Johnson played as an oafish 12-year-old public schoolboy and a nailed on Fearne Cotton impersonation which is so spot on, you may actually think you've flicked over to one of her ITV2 shows.
Sky.com, 30th November 2010
She's clearly got some talent, Morgana. She does an excellent Fearne Cotton. Really, really good. But then, once she's got her, she doesn't stick the knife in enough. That may be because it's just not possible, come to think of it. There are good moments in here but also signs she could morph into Catherine Tate. Ugh.
tvBite, 30th November 2010
Whether or not she makes you laugh, Morgana Robinson is without question a staggeringly brilliant vocal and facial mimic. Her Fearne Cotton and X Factor bits aren't her finest, but it's spooky how she manages to morph into her targets. Morgana doesn't just look like Fearne Cotton - she is Fearne Cotton. She's also extremely funny. Morgana's from-scratch characters are cleverly conceived, weird but recognisable enough to not feel like you're being pummelled by surreal in-jokes. Best are the crazy old lady who thinks little people live in her radio, Madolynn, a spent drunk and one-time Hollywood siren and Gilbert, the socially incompetent teenager. Well done to Channel 4 for not wimping out and stashing Morgana on E4.
Ruth Margolis, Radio Times, 30th November 2010
Little-known comedian Morgana Robinson brings her own sketch comedy series to Channel 4. It's pretty standard stuff for late-night comedy - a bit surreal, occasionally amusing. She sends up celebrities such as Fearne Cotton and Cheryl Cole as well as performing her own original characters.
Catherine Gee, The Daily Telegraph, 29th November 2010