Monday, May 15

Laugh, I nearly tried

David Cook ponders the future and finds it to be alarmingly Denis Norden tinged.

Denis Norden’s Laughter File (ITV, Saturday, 9.10pm) inspires lots of questions, the biggest being – how old is Denis Norden, actually? Think back to your earliest memory of ‘loveable’ old Denis. Did he look the same then as he does now? Of course he does. Ask your gran – she’ll say the same. He doesn’t age. Denis Norden defies time. You can practically hear Death standing in the wings of the Laughter File set, tapping his foot, checking his watch and tutting loudly.

The other questions Laughter File raises are: what the hell is the difference between this and It’ll Be Alright On The Night? (Answer: there isn’t one, it’s just another label to stick on a bunch of clips of regional TV presenters accidentally swearing and wetting themselves with laughter as if they’ve come up with a spot of ribald commentary to rival Bill Hicks). Also, why does Denis hold a clipboard when he never looks at it? And why, on a website supposedly aimed at vaguely fashionable people who’d be out at vaguely fashionable bars at the time on a Saturday that Laughter File airs, are we reviewing it? It’s because, when we all grow up and get families and stuff, we’re going to be stuck in every Saturday night. Every Saturday night. And we’re going to be watching Denis Norden present another ‘chortlesome’ array of TV bloopers each and every week, until we’re dead. That’s the future. Kids, Denis Norden, death. So we just thought we’d warn you. Think on, everyone. Think on.

As is well documented, the BBC never has a clue what to do with US sitcoms. They either stick them on at midnight on a Thursday, or – if they think they’re really good - on BBC2 opposite Coronation Street. Except How I Met Your Mother, (BBC2, Sunday, 7.30pm) which really should have been in the midnight slot, because it’s toss. All told in from a retrospective viewpoint, this tells the ‘hilarious’ ‘tale’ of how Ted – a man more unmemorable than a GCSE physics lesson - met his kids’ mother. His best friend, Barney, is practically a photocopy of Chandler from Friends and Alyson Hannigan reprises the same ‘drippy girly-girl’ character she’s played ever since Buffy, but without the magic stuff and the endearing [cough] lesbianism. It’s all about blandly-beautiful people and their tedious ‘will-they-won’t-they’ romantic dilemmas and reeks, with less than zero justification, of that special US-sitcom style brand of chirpy smugness.

There are more laughs to be had by slowly detaching your retinas with a safety pin. Trust me, I know. It’s still better than My Family, mind you, so well done on that.

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