Green Wing could have run and run but it bowed out at the top, which is more than can be said for Parky, says Mark Lewis
When you can’t decide which character you like the most in a sitcom you’ve got yourself a terrific ensemble cast. It is the genius of Friends and Scrubs and it’s the reason Green Wing could have run for as long.
But where Green Wing is the superior comedy is that it knew when to stop. Four series in, and the Scrubs characters are beginning to metamorphose like the cast of Eastenders. When storyline supercedes character, it is time to give up the plot. Scrubs remains one of the best reasons to turn on the telly but I fear one more series and Turk is going to be caught sleeping with Sharon in the Arches and be beaten up by his brother Grant.
We will miss Green Wing (Thursday, 10pm Ch4). It was a comedy to which you would gladly dedicate an hour because it wound slapstick, satire, surrealism and straight up comedy like a TV chef juggling endorsement contacts. At close to two hours, last night’s one off finale was a commitment for sure, and having been pushed down the schedule by the introduction of this year’s interminable Celebrity Big Brother it ended at close to midnight.
Feature length is not normally a phrase to raise joy in the hearts of TV viewers, but the thin spreading of melancholy over the script in this final episode was more than enough to sustain tired eyes to the end. It was set in the last few weeks of Mac’s life, but like Friends and the Office before it, the writers knew that we all ultimately wanted a happy ending.
Which is more than can be said for the latest incarnation of Michael Parkinson.
He doesn’t ignore his guests like Frank Skinner, and he doesn’t pull faces at them like Davina. But really, how hard can it be? Michael Parkinson has all the skill of a man who can ask movie stars how they make their portrayals so lifelike and laugh at the jokes of Scottish comedians.
There is no doubt that he manages those arts skilfully, I just wonder whether mastering sycophantic smalltalk means you deserve to have a nationally recognised pseudonym.
Parky, however, has sown his own demise by taking the ITV shilling. Judging by last night’s Michael Parkinson’ Greatest Entertainers (Thursday, ITV, 9pm) he will have suffered the Trevor MacDonald disease within weeks and will be topping and tailing someone else’s report on the unwatched Tonight programme.
This was textbook ITV: pay big money for a star an then flog the career right our them in ill-fitting vehicles. Michael Parkinson’s Greatest Entertainers was the chat show equivalent of Ross Kemp’s Ultimate Force.
It was the last death throes of a fading TV aristocrat whose consummate professionalism and good fortune landed him some of the most sought after guests on the planet. Now he was reduced to telling us over two hours that Fred Astaire was a jolly good dancer; Frank Sinatra could sing a bit, and Billy Connolly had been on his show a lot.
So farewell then, Parky. You’ll be missed by people’s mums. Probably even more so than Green Wing.