BBC Three's latest font of malodorousness, The King Is Dead, has been described as "part spoof job interview, part chat show, part panel show and part character comedy"; you might say it was suffering from an identity crisis were that not ascribing rather too much sentient thought to its conception.
To expand: a panel of three comics, led by The Inbetweeners' Simon Bird, interview three celebrities vying to fill the shoes of a famous public figure. In this week's opener, said position was the United States president, the cue for 30 minutes of dismally aimless japery which matched spurious quizzes with Peaches Geldof flaunting her ignorance and James Corden frottaging a man dressed as a vending machine. Pity poor, rictus-grinned Sarah Beeny, whose demeanour was that of an interplanetary visitor stuck at a student rag-week party. Bird has seen fit to compare his show to Shooting Stars, though never has Vic and Bob's brand of whimsical surrealism seemed such a precious commodity.Hugh Montgomery, The Independent, 5th September 2010
Future instalments of this silly show will apparently seek candidates to be chief of police and Father Christmas. They'd be better trying to find a new commissioning editor for BBC3.Andrea Mullaney, The Scotsman, 4th September 2010
Simon Bird is brilliant as the uber-nerdy babe anti-magnet in The Inbetweeners and after watching the opening scene of his new show, we were getting ready to congratulate ourselves on another half-hour well spent. That was until he and his co-stars were whisked off to some TV studio... A panel show? OK, slightly harder to pull off, but let's just see how it goes... Sadly, our faith was not rewarded.
The King Is Dead is a spoof in which Bird and his sidekicks interview three celebrities for a position of great authority. In tonight's opening episode, the vacancy is in the White House - giving our hosts the chance to make some expected, but still rather funny jibes at our friends across the pond. Indeed one of the highlights of a rather disappointing episode came when the panel rip on 'Darren' for being a Brit: "Listen to his accent", "what's wrong with your teeth?" etc. However, when you take a peak at the rest of the series and find that several of these mini-japes are going to be churned out again and again, then you start to feel a little concerned.
Admittedly the whole Darren situation was quite funny on this first occasion, but watching Bird's colleague pressing Peaches Geldof to disclose who she prefers out of Stalin and Mugabe gets old almost as the words are leaving his mouth. "Oh I couldn't chose..." she replies. "But what if you had to!?" Groan... Joining Peaches in the queue to be the next President is Sarah Beeney and James Corden. Aside from Corden's well-documented cr*pness (he actually seems to have confused being humorous with laughing inanely at all times..) there isn't much to else worthy of comment here.On The Box, 3rd September 2010
The idea, if that's not too grand a term, is to have various random nano-celebs compete for a job vacancy while having the mickey ripped out of them by Bird and a couple of sidekicks.
But the script was so lame even Bird's geek appeal couldn't rescue it. Inbetweeners fans would be best advised to skip it, lest it take the shine off the new series.Keith Watson, Metro, 3rd September 2010
It is quite possible for the entire 30-minute format to zoom by while one sits in a state of permanent bafflement. This, at least, is what happened to me. Chief among my head-scratching topics was the matter of why: why anyone's agents had allowed them to participate? Bird, yes, who made an excellent start on the comedy ladder as a kind of young David Mitchell in The Inbetweeners, but also the contestants.
Last night, we got Peaches Geldof, James Corden and Sarah Beeny, none of whom - last time I checked - were desperate for publicity (aside from Beeny, that is, but then she set up the My Single Friend website, so she's laughing all the way to the bank). So why, one wonders, had they submitted themselves to this? Unlike most make-a-fool-of-the-famous-person shows, it is virtually impossible to come off looking good, even if you, like Corden and Geldof, manage to make the odd good joke. The basic premise was that our celebrity contestants were "applying" for the job of US President. To do so, they had to engage in fights with vending machines, guess lines of movie dialogue and answer awkward questions. Unfortunately, there was not a nail-biting, amusing or revealing moment in it. Given this, perhaps it's not surprising that Beeny, the most boring of the three, won. Surely it can't last.Alice-Azania Jarvis, The Independent, 3rd September 2010
We love The Inbetweeners. We love Simon Bird in The Inbetweeners. But Simon Bird as panel show presenter? We're not so sure. The King Is Dead sees a public figure hypothetically bumped off each week, and its left to Bird and his interview panel of funny people to find a celebrity replacement. But the show, which is over-scripted, relies on Bird insulting the celebs and tasteless innuendo to get laughs.Sky, 2nd September 2010
Simon Bird is brilliant in E4 sitcom The Inbetweeners, and the first scene of his new series suggests more of the same - except Bird plays a geeky, gaffe-prone office worker rather than a geeky, gaffe-prone sixth-former. Then the opening titles roll and, confusingly, we're suddenly in a TV studio, where Apprentice runner-up Kate Walsh, Eamonn Holmes and Mollie King from the Saturdays are perched apprehensively on stools. The King Is Dead is a spoof panel game, it transpires, where second-rate celebs are "interviewed" for the job of Assistant Regional Head of Sales. Bird dishes out stationery-themed gags, dubious stats and silly tests. Holmes gets the worst of it - the highlight of a poor show.Claire Webb, Radio Times, 2nd September 2010
We love Simon Bird as briefcase-wielding bully bait Will in The Inbetweeners, but sadly this vehicle doesn't show him at his best. The concept is that someone holding a certain job has died - a police chief, for example - and he's conducting an interview for their replacement. However, all the applicants are celebrities, and in this first episode James Corden, Peaches Geldof and Sarah Beeny are all vying to be given the job of President of the USA. Perhaps the only reason you may want to tune in is to see Peaches being given a bit of a hard time.Sky, 2nd September 2010
On paper this new comedy series - which styles itself as a spoof job interview - promised much. Each week, host Simon Bird imagines that an important figure (e.g., US President or Father Christmas) has been bumped off; various celebrities then state their suitability for the role. But, oh dear, this plumbs the depths of stupidity.Simon Horsford, The Telegraph, 2nd September 2010
This new panel comedy presented by The Inbetweeners' Simon Bird is based around the theme of a recruitment drive. Each week, three C-listers jostle to be promoted to a fictional role in the community. In this first run, ex-CBBC presenter Kirsten O'Brien, model Caprice, and The Bill's Graham Cole fight it out to be named fictional chief of police. Their tasks involve drawing a self-portrait while handcuffed to a brass band and treading a vat full of meat. Co-presenter Nick Mohammed, wades in with a few good one-liners but overall it's more Chucklevision than Shooting Stars.The Guardian, 2nd September 2010