Wayyyyyaaagggghhhhhh. 8-part Spitting Image-esque series, coming in January to ITV – and done completely as CGI.
Let’s get one thing straight first – for all we know, the scripts could end up being rather good. Head writer is ex-Spitting Image head writer Henry Naylor (no relation), and let’s hope he comes up with the goods.
But take a look at that picture. (Taken from this Daily Mail article, which is hilarious if only for the comments at the bottom.) Yes, it’s only a pre-production picture. Yes, it probably isn’t what would be the final render will be like (and the second picture in the Daily Mail article makes this even more obvious). But it’s not about the level of detail – although I haven’t got much hopes for that either in the finished production – it’s about the design. And those character designs are fucking appalling.
That picture is supposed to be of Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet. Clue: you’re not supposed to need a caption in order to figure out who they are. As my other half said: “It’s about as far away from them as you can get, without making them a different race.” Especially compared to the genius of Spitting Image‘s caricatures, where you knew who the person was INSTANTLY. They were real works of art. That picture is just atrocious in every possible way.
And as for the animation itself? I predict it’s going to be fucking terrible. They’re looking for a fast turnaround so they can do topical stuff – and you CANNOT DO CGI as a fast turnaround. CGI animation can be wonderful – just look at Pixar – but it needs time taken on it to look good. This is going to be one hell of an ugly show – and even if the scripts are any good, it’ll almost certainly render it unwatchable for me.
I like the following quote, though:
Controller of ITV Productions and executive producer Saurabh Kakkar told Broadcast: “The technology now is of such quality that we aren’t restricted – we can go anywhere and tackle most people and subjects.”
What – you mean like Spitting Image could, back in 1984? WOW!
The really sad thing is the following:
ITV director of entertainment Paul Jackson had been keen to bring the series back but last year’s plan was scuppered because special featured new characters such as Ant and Dec – a move which was against the wishes of one of the show’s creators Roger Law, who owns the rights to the brand.
Presuming this is true (and Broadcast are usually on the mark), then it’s very sad – partly because it seems an odd thing for Roger Law to get sniffy about. Spitting Image lampooned celebrity for most of its lifespan, and Ant and Dec are perfectly legitimate targets. What Law should have done is made sure that if they were going to do Ant and Dec puppets, then it was sufficiently vicious – not thrown a strop about it. It could have been a chance to do something truly subversive, and mock the main stars of the channel.
It’s all such a shame, because at its height, Spitting Image was one of the best shows that ITV ever broadcast. And what makes me dread this so much is that even when Spitting Image completely lost its way at the script level – and the repeat of the last ever episode after Best Ever Spitting Image last year proved this – the show was still gorgeously produced. It’s one of the best made, most visually interesting series ITV ever did. For this to be replaced with insipid rushed CGI… it epitomises everything that is currently wrong with the channel. If they failed to get Law back on board, then they should have done a different live action take on the idea – or just not bothered, and spent the money on some other comedy.
Still, I’m prepared to admit it if I’m wrong. Ask me again in January – if the creators produce something utterly wonderful, then I’ll happily admit I was talking presumptuous horseshit. But frankly, I wouldn’t get your hopes up.