- Tuesday 28th April 2015, 8:37pm
- United Kingdom
- 320 posts
I don't think the 'I don't get it' premise works when we compare recent comedies with successes of the past.
In many cases the quality simply isn't there in current material.
And many of these vehicles are targeted at societal niches these days.
Our media savvy media wonks like 'comedies' which are targeted at media savvy folk like themselves. Enter 'W1A' and 'The thick of it'.
Meanwhile the don't-offend-anyone doctrine reigns supreme, making much comedy impossible.
If I'm not mistaken, the biggest ratings for sitcom since the year 2000 were achieved by 'My family'.
A US-style vehicle created by someone who'd learned his craft in the US.
Audiences liked it (as the viewing figures prove), but the critics (who no doubt went to the same media studies courses as present day program commissioners) hated it for being mere entertainment.
In short, here was someone who'd learned from 'Frasier'; something we wanted desperately pretend had never happened.
We meanwhile indulged in ever more niche 'cool' stuff, telling ourselves that the rest of the world would realise us right in the end.
Because we invented humour. We had made 'Fawlty Towers'. Long ago.
Oddly, it hasn't quite worked out that way...
Mainstream is still deemed 'uncool' and our media wonks still chase the latest 'cool' thing. 'Cool' to them is everything.
If they ever were to meet David Bowie it would be the highlight of their lives.
Anything with a deliberate wider appeal is regarded as mundane, samey and somewhat common.
A certain provincialism is becoming apparent. Just as German TV will cater for Teutonic comedy tastes, not expecting the rest of the world to take much notice, so UK output now more and more is just meant for the UK local consumption.
Were we really expecting the rest of the world to take to 'Gavin and Stacey' or 'Miranda'? Any international ambitions have withered away.
There are signs of real desperation in resuscitating 'Open all hours'.
It's becoming apparent that there hasn't been a decent mainstream hit in sitcom for a very long time. One is beginning to panic. Reviving a format which is long dead has a feel of picking over a dead carcass...
To my mind the 1990s were the last decent decade of UK mainstream sitcom.
In effect we've missed an entire generation.
So are the recent sitcoms 'overrated' by their followers and 'overhyped' by the media? Of course.
But not this or that one. All of them.
The recent output tend to have very little heft to them and seem to consist of banter, style and production value. Oh, and a shedload of political correctness of course. (no doubt the broadcasters dream of finally making a comedy star of a gay, black, disabled transgender female with a welsh accent)
How much broadcasters understand of the mainstream these days is illustrated by 'Still open all hours' and 'Mrs Brown's boys' being meant for the wider audience. That's for us.
Until the broadcasters embrace the mainstream again, not feeling it beneath them, the UK will produce tripe which might be liked by this or that niche audience, but not the nation. And most certainly not the international mainstream.