How a manufactured 'spat' between two comedians recalls the so-called furore over the BBC's polar bears.David Mitchell, The Observer, 13th October 2013
Regardless of the fact that the TV schedules are already rammed with the damned things, all sharing near-identical formats, television continues to spew out comedy panel shows. Channel 4's Was It Something I Said? is the latest manifestation of a tedious trend.
The basic premise, upon which the contestants are invited to riff, is the world of quotes and quotations. A world very familiar to anyone who has listened to an edition of BBC Radio 4's Quote... Unquote during its 49 series' residency.
But originality clearly isn't high on Was It Something I Said?'s priorities. Take a look at the line-up - David Mitchell in the chair, Richard Ayoade and Micky Flanagan as team captains, and Charlie Higson and Jimmy Carr as guests.
Individually, I like them all. Collectively, as part of a comedy panel show, their terrible familiarity provokes in me a level of screaming boredom that is borderline hysterical.
Even the fine actor David Harewood, roped in as guest 'reader', has been spotted slumming it elsewhere in the BBC's Would I Lie to You?. Presumably, Harewood's ambition was atomised at the end of Homeland's second series, along with his character.
But possibly the most predictable and depressing aspect of the show was its total absence of women. Whether this was the deliberate product of an anti-feminist agenda, or simply down to the fact that Sarah Millican wasn't available, we can only guess.Harry Venning, The Stage, 11th October 2013
David Harewood appeared on Was it Something I Said?. That's quite a fall, from being head of the CIA to reading out quotes on a Channel 4 gameshow. Basically it's that Radio 4 show Quote Unquote on the telly, with David Mitchell asking the questions. And the questions being "who said this?" and "how does this quote go?"
Not the most imaginative format then, but of course it's not really about the game, it's about which panellist can be funniest. And the answer to that is Richard Ayoade. Certainly he's much funnier than his teammate Jimmy Carr; they don't seem to like each other very much either, which is quite jolly. No women about obviously, it being a panel show.Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, 7th October 2013
A new panel show hosted by David Mitchell has to be worth a look. It's a quotation-based game, somewhere in tone between Radio 4's Quote Unquote and QI, as they all try to guess who said what or complete famous quotations. On one team Richard Ayoade turns out to be perfect to duel with, gainsay and generally neutralise Jimmy Carr - hilariously so. Micky Flanagan and Charlie Higson are on the opposing team.
The rhythms of the game itself are still a bit halting (it's early days) but the guests are funny enough that it barely matters - when Micky Flanagan impersonated David Mitchell being a bailiff, it's almost as if we're watching Would I Lie To You? - and in this genre there's no higher compliment.David Butcher, Radio Times, 6th October 2013
Does David Mitchell ever catch Jimmy Carr's eye across the set of a crowded panel show and think: 'I know exactly what you're going to say here'? More opportunities for celebrity ennui tonight. This new series sees Mitchell in the chair, Carr as a guest and other usual suspects Micky Flanagan, Charlie Higson and Richard Ayoade making up the numbers.
The wild card is the slightly out-of-his-element guest David Harewood, who has presumably been selected for his boomingly stentorian voice, because the core of the show is quotes - famous ones, outlandish ones and obscure ones. It's not the most striking panel-show concept we've ever come across and, notwithstanding a couple of mildly amusing moments - including Harewood's scarily good Obama impression - it never quite gets off the ground.
Mitchell's other regular panel gig, Would I Lie to You?, has punched above its apparent weight for years now, but we'd bet against this proving similarly enduring.Phil Harrison, Time Out, 6th October 2013
Was It Something I Said?, yet another comedy panel show (this one based, with great originality, around quotations), has been hand-tooled to inherit Homeland's audience, not only going out directly after the new adventures of Carrie Mathison, but also featuring actor David Harewood - Homeland's now blown-to-smithereens CIA director David Estes - as guest quotation reader.
Host David Mitchell has, of course, been recently conducting a media discourse with Fast Show creator Charlie Higson over whether or not comedy panel shows are blocking other, rather more expensive forms of television comedy. Higson was a guest last night, so the timing of that spat makes you cynically wonder whether it wasn't merely pre-show publicity, or whether Higson had a genuinely bad time recording last night's opener.
Mitchell's riposte has been that panel shows are often more funny than scripted comedy, a view to which I'm not unsympathetic, especially when Richard Ayoade was holding forth last night, effortlessly neutralising supposed team-mate Jimmy Carr. Did I write neutralise, or did I mean neuter? These macho cockfights are the reason why female comedians give such shows a wide berth, and needless to say, all six panellists were male. Mitchell had even grown a Mumford-lush beard, while Carr appeared to be in the process of growing one - it was as if their faces were actively leaking testosterone.Gerard Gilbert, The Independent, 6th October 2013