2019 Comedy Review.
Yes, I know 2019 isn’t quite over yet, but it has been an incredibly busy year for me so I thought it was a good time to take stock of my writing and the shows I’ve watched.
The biggest thing to happen for my work, of course, was the move of the Blandford Candy series to Sharpe Books. This move allowed me to really increase my productivity, and has seen two more Blandford books (Of Blood Exhausted and The Emerald Cross), a collection of short stories, the first in a trilogy of e-novellas about Thomas Becket (out soon), and an audible release of The Last Roundhead. The new editions and new releases all reached the top ten bestsellers list for Historical Fiction on Amazon Kindle, with the Last Roundhead getting to No 2. It has been quite an intense year all around. There are more Blandford books to come as well as the rest of my Becket trilogy, and a new series next summer set in a completely different period.
Now, onto comedy on TV in 2019.
The year has been quite rich in terms of my comedy watching: The arrival of Dead Pixels, the demise of Zapped (utterly devastating decision), the return of Plebs (a bit hit and miss, but the hit episodes were better than ever), the discovery of Rick and Morty (late to that party but a review of series 4 here). I very much enjoyed the gentle comedy of BBC’s Ghosts and look forward to that returning in the New Year. Derry Girls grew on me and I have loved watching the reruns of Detectorists.
The new series of Timewasters was brilliant, clever, and award winning. Channel 4’s Home was similarly brilliant and should similarly win awards. Zomboat has been good; I am a sucker for a canal holiday so easily pleased in that respect, but post-apocolyptic comedy has always been a guilty pleasure - I was probably the only person who enjoyed Cockroaches.
American sit-coms have been going through a bit of a sequels, prequels and spinoffs. Brooklyn 99’s phoenix like resurrection looks set to continue, boom, boom. Schooled and Young Sheldon are filling a Goldbergs/Big Bang Theory hole. I’ve never really got into The Good Place but it’s earning rave reviews. Superstore goes from strength to strength, but the demise of Last Man on Earth was as disappointing as Zapped. I felt both series had more to explore about the characters and situation and the viewing figures still warranted a renewal (particularly for Zapped).
Looking forward to next year, the return of Dead Pixels is great news (that was my best laugh out loud British comedy this year), and I expect at least another series of Plebs before that format gets tired. Actually sending the quadrangle of chaos that is Grumio, Marcus, Jason, and Waterboy (man) off to the army might be a great two parter till they escape, or even as a complete reboot. The characters are still fun, but I have never really bought into the bar owning situation. Rick and Morty is of course a different beast, but the confirmation of 90 more episodes after a very stop start history has me really excited. Oh, and come on Channel 4 where was the brain in holding back the premiere until January by which time everyone in the UK would have already seen half the series online. Thankfully you brought it forward.
There is also a feature length episode of Red Dwarf to look forward to in 2020, and three, hour long, retrospectives looking at the thirty year history of the show – all on Dave TV. Another couple of things I am very much looking forward to are Truth Seekers starring the fabulous Nick Frost about a group of youtube paranormal investigators, and The Witchfinder written by Rob and Neil Gibbons about a failing witchfinder in 1647, starring Tim Key and Daisy May Cooper on BBC2 (Yeah, English Civil War comedy? It’s like you read my mind). The latter in particular is something that I am really, really, hoping is good, and the cast and writers are first rate, so... I shall probably love it even if others don’t.
I do think that comedy in general and sit-coms in particular need a bit of shaking up. There still seems to be a feeling of play it safe with commissioning, even when shows are developing a cult following (Yes, I was really gutted about Zapped and LMOE). The aforementioned R&M demonstrates that audiences are increasingly sophisticated when it comes to humour on telly. I think it’s about time a new Fawlty, or Young Ones, or Boosh comes along for this generation and changes the game completely.
In the meantime, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and may your god go with you.