An interesting article published in Media Guardian today; a pity that Media Guardian is sometimes less than reliable, and rather stupid. Yes, the first series of I’m Alan Partridge didn’t have a laugh track. Oh no, wait a minute, it did. You fucking idiots.
Black sitcom ‘no laughing matter’ gives an overview as to certain complaints about the series. Now, try as we might, we just can’t get ourselves worked up over the whole race issue involved. To us, it’s ridiculous it’s still an issue. Ignoring it is the wrong policy; after all, there is obviously still an issue here, and brushing it under the carpet is wrong. But frankly, we’re more worried about why it just wasn’t funny.
For example, we agree with Michael Eboda, editor of New Nation, that The Crouches was “about as funny as being carjacked”. But when talking about the failings of the show, he says that “For example, in the average black household a teenage daughter would never snog her gangsta boyfriend at the dinner table in front of her mum, dad and grandparents.” Well, all this doesn’t address the real issue why the show failed – which is simply that the jokes weren’t good enough. Not that we’re saying that this is the only thing that matters in a sitcom; however, if you fail with the jokes, you’ve fallen at the first hurdle – no other strengths of the show matter. However, if we’re in the mood for a bit of racial commentary, Michael’s blanket assertion that “black children do not regularly swear at their parents” would seem rather sweeping. There plenty of families across the country where children swear in front of their parents and there isn’t a problem – is Michael really saying that conduct in all black households can be summed up in one sentence any more than white households? Every family has different rules. Anyway, the point is – if all the characters behaved as Michael wanted them to, it wouldn’t automatically make the show any good, as the behaviour of the characters is not the show’s main problem. To be fair, much of this could simply be down to Media Guardian’s reporting, and selective quoting. Either way, somebody, somewhere, has missed the point. Comedy is not usually about realism.
Executive producer Kenton Allen would appear to have the right idea. “Ian [Pattison] decided he wanted to write the show and he brought it to the BBC. We thought it was very funny so we commissioned it… Traditional sitcoms are out of favour with critics, who like things like Phoenix Nights and The Office. That’s where we disagree. Since time immemorial every hit comedy has come on air and got a pasting for its first series, from Fawlty Towers onwards. It’s a national sport.” All of which is absolutely true; you commission a comedy on the basis of whether it’s funny or not, and I suspect that The Crouches would get a lot of flak anyway, because a lot of critics have decided that traditional sitcoms are rubbish. Unfortunately, none of this makes The Crouches first episode amusing.
And off the point a bit: is the film effect applied really neccessary? It works with some comedy shows (Phoenix Nights for one), but with this kind of traditional sitcom all it does is distance the viewer from the characters and what there is of the comedy. And it doesn’t look particuarly nicely done, either, unlike Red Dwarf VII.
The next ep is on in the same timeslot: BBC ONE at 10:35pm, on Tuesday 16th September. Called School’s Out, the storyline is: “When Natalie is wooed by a bad-boy ex, Roly gives her an ultimatum”. Let’s face it; there were some good points about the show. Rudolph Walker and Don Warrington were fantastic in it. There was the odd vaguely amusing bit. And the setting of Roly’s workplace, the London Underground, was a great idea, and nicely realised. Give it another chance. It might get good. Possibly. Maybe. Hopefully…
For more articles about The Crouches, see these search results in Media Guardian.