Not even Julia Davis could rescue star-studded self-indulgence Bad Sugar, written by Peep Show duo Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong and the centrepiece of Channel 4's presumptuously-titled Funny Fortnight. The problem was the premise: a spoof of the telenovella, which, for the uninitiated, is a type of high-camp, short-form Spanish-language soap opera. Which prompts at least three questions: first, who has actually seen a high-camp, short-form Spanish-language soap opera? Second, why spoof a short-form, high-camp Spanish-language soap opera with British characters in a British locale? And finally, does high-camp, short-form Spanish soap opera not fall somewhere beside Donald Trump in the beyond-parody stakes? And so it was that, without any decent material to play with, a blue-chip cast (Davis, Sharon Horgan, Olivia Colman, Reece Shearsmith) mugged away exhaustingly. The pilot began with a fake "Previously on ..." montage, although I assume the corresponding "Next time on ..." montage was for real since a full series lies ahead. Which makes you wonder if all the good comedy commissioners have scarpered to Sky Atlantic.Hugh Montgomery, The Independent, 2nd September 2012
Bad Sugar featured a power trio of comedy actresses and that was my first problem with this spoof, lampooning those big, throbbing family melodramas. To the best of my knowledge, Olivia Colman, Julia Davis and Sharon Horgan have never had their names attached to such overcooked tripe. That cannot debar them from making fun of it, but the pleasure of watching them is less because they don't bear the scars of rotten scripts past, like Hannah does. And my second problem with Bad Sugar, the tale of a wealthy mining dynasty and a battle for power involving a psycho, a drip and a gold-digging interloper? It wasn't remotely funny. The very least a spoof should be is a collection of half-decent jokes, but this was like a comedy version of Real Madrid's football gallacticos - great talent enlisted without a plan. Still, now they've appeared in a dud, our star trio can lampoon themselves with conviction at a later date.Aidan Smith, The Scotsman, 1st September 2012
Stereotypes abounded in Bad Sugar, a star-studded pilot spoof, written by Peep Show's Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong and based on telenovelas and old American TV soaps - Dynasty, Dallas], [i]The Bold and the Beautiful. Except this dysfunctional, filthy-rich family of lip-glossed gold-diggers and useless husbands was British, with a tight-fisted mining billionaire father at its helm. Julia Davis and Sharon Horgan performed their "rich bitch" parts perfectly adequately ("bitch is as bitch does"), as did Olivia Colman as an animal-loving frump. Given everyone's calibre, this wasn't as funny as you might have expected. There were some good lines - when Davis's daughter ran to her in her nightdress, crying, "Mummy, I'm scared", Davis retorted: "Tell teddy about it. He'll listen." But I suspect watching repeats of Joan Collins's Dynasty might actually be funnier.Arifa Akbar, The Independent, 27th August 2012
In this reduced era of four-parters instead of six, it can seem as if only two actors are in regular work: Stephen Graham and Olivia Colman. She appears in so many serious roles (last week, Accused) that I wonder if there's an entire audience which is unaware she also works often, and brilliantly, in comedy. This is a spoof melodrama about a mining dynasty.The Scotsman, 26th August 2012
Mangling accents and genres with glee, Bad Sugar is one of the more promising pilots of C4's Funny Fortnight. Starring three-headed comedy hydra Julia Davis, Sharon Horgan and Olivia Colman, it's equal parts telenovela, costume drama and pseudo-glossy, 'Dallas'-style family saga. The plotting - centred around the will of an ageing patriarch (David Bradley) and the scheming of his three children (plus Horgan's cuckoo in the nest, Lucy) - is self-consciously ridiculous. But Bad Sugar is sustained by a host of brilliant performances. In addition to the above, look out for Kayvan Novak (dim gardener Simon) and Peter Serafinowicz (closeted son Rolf). Tonight, the fingers of Colman's piano-playing naif Joan are mangled by a red-hot boule ball; the absurdity can only escalate when a full series airs next year.Phil Harrison, Time Out, 26th August 2012
Bad Sugar (Channel 4, Sunday), Bain and Armstrong's show has three funny performances from three funny women. Horgan is marrying into a wealthy mining family, even though the son she's getting hitched to is clearly at least 50 shades of gay. Davis is the evil sister, of course; Colman - the pick of the bunch - is the simple one, who has never really got over poisoning her twin brother. Can this really be the same actor who was also so brilliant as the tragic victim of a kind of urban torture in Accused just the other night? Range - I think that's what it's called.
There are are some good jokes, and some good lines. "Poisoned boys are sad, aren't they?" is nice, from Colman. Horgan brings the smut to the party, as you'd expect. "Remind me, Rodrigo, did I remember to wear panties today?" she says, standing over the vicar who's lying on the church floor (answer: no). The best thing Davis does is eat a boiled egg, without peeling it, just crunches through the shell.
I did wonder though, whether this kind of telenovela-style melodrama is enough of a thing in this country to merit the spoof treatment (if that's what this is - I'm a bit slow when it comes to pastiche). Oh, and an hour was too long, by about half an hour.Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, 26th August 2012