I decided to fill my Netflix que with things I’d enjoy watching instead of stuff I haven’t seen but feel obligated to see and there’s a 60/40 chance I’ll enjoy it. With my spare time and movies, I like better odds. I love British comedy so I filled my que with comedies I haven’t seen. Last week, “Not the 9 O’Clock News” arrived.
One fun thing they did was play with news footage. They’d show a close up of Margaret Thatcher reading a magazine, which was the real footage, then show a woman’s hands turning the pages of a muscle men magazine as if she was reading it. Another tidbit compares a dinner party to cannibals. I thought it was a fun way to make commentary.
I also enjoyed their scene transitions–there were a lot of things I enjoyed about the show and not that scene transitions are ground breaking, because they played off of the scene before it, they made a seamless flow. It reminded me of an improv exercise, something to get you out of your head, you had to listen to the person who was going at that moment then your scene/character picked up where they left off. They were little things extras that heightened the show. “Not the 9 O’Clock News” would show someone pushing a button and the next scene would open with someone pushing a doorbell.
What I’ve been enjoying about some of the shows is seeing people I know from other shows or later in their career in some of their first roles. This program features Rowan Atkinson of “Black Adder” and “Mr. Bean” fame (he’s in many other things, I’m going with those two for right now).
When he plays authority figures, Atkinson is very deadpan which makes everything he says funnier. In one sketch he plays a vicar whose church is on the show “Songs of Praise”. He remarks to his full house that the week before they only had 7 people, because 4 showed up a week early. The week before that they only had 3: him, the organist, and a can of spaghetti. He berates the audience for only showing up for an opportunity to be on TV.
Then suddenly from the back of the pack, emerging like a silent sniper, is a song so cold and striking you stop. Many satirists come from the point of view of people they don’t agree with or who they don’t understand. The character in the song wants to kill someone famous so they can become famous. It’s so true, it’s almost not funny. It ends with him deciding not to kill someone today, but wait for another day. He walks down the street and mixes in with the crowd. You’re chilled reminded of the time bombs that are out there.
While they say they are not the news, in many ways they are. With songs like that, they broadcast realities beyond the funny. You realize all their sketches stem from everyday situations. Of course people are going to turn up in droves with the chance to be on TV. To paraphrase William Zinsser, it’s a show that makes you laugh so you can look at things seriously.