Before Peep Show there was The Mitchell & Webb Situation.
Originally made for the now defunct cable/satellite channel
UK Play, this series is to Peep Show what Matt Lucas
and David Walliams' Rock Profile is to Little
Britain: a cult success on a minority channel
that propelled its stars toward greater things. Now Mitchell
and Webb fans who (like me) missed out on their television
debut can catch up with it on DVD.
show won't be to everybody's tastes, though. Some sketches
work better than others, and there are aspects that some viewers
might find offensive, such as the C-word, which is seen daubed
on a wall, or a man being deliberately injected with the AIDS
there's bound to be something in this inventive series that
will strike a chord with you. I particularly enjoyed David
Mitchell's gleeful farmer, who marvels at the fact that he
gets money for stuff that grows out of the ground. I also
empathised with Robert Webb's bored man in a pub, who feels
excluded from the conversations of those around him, but cannot
think of a topic of his own, so he believes that everyone
should shut up unless they have something genuinely enlightening
or clever to say. OK, so it might not sound that funny when
I describe it, but believe me, it is!
the majority of sketch shows nowadays, such as Little Britain
and The Catherine Tate Show, The Mitchell & Webb
Situation tends not to stretch its characters and situations
across the entire series. With the exception of Mitchell and
Webb's inventor characters ("What if it's not about the wolf
at all," says Webb, as the pair develop a story idea that
involves blowing down different kinds of house, "what if it's
about the pigs?") and the polite tramps that appear at the
end of every show, their comic creations are restricted to
one episode each, though they often reappear in several sketches
within that episode.
a broader level, there is some cross-series development of
themes, as opposed to specific situations. For example, many
of the six episodes on this DVD contain sketches that involve
a man being interviewed in his own home. These include a man
(Webb) who cannot persuade the television crew to leave and
another (Mitchell) who just doesn't grasp the artifice of
the recording process.
of the sketches also star Olivia Colman, who went on to appear
in Peep Show as Mitchell's regular love interest, Sophie,
and in the second series of Look
the most remarkable thing about this series is that it was
recorded in the space of just 15 working days, as Mitchell
and Webb reveal in their audio commentary (for the first episode
only) and in a short interview on a bench in a windy park.
The commentary also includes an amusing off-topic detour into
the realm of Doctor Who.
With the comedians set to return to the sketch-show format
in That Mitchell and Webb Look (a television version
of their BBC Radio 4 series That Mitchell and Webb Sound),
fans of their work will find this release a most agreeable
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