Little Britain USA episode 3 review

Bing Gordyn helps bring down a slightly disappointing third episode of Matt Lucas' and David Walliams' US sketch show...

Of the new characters introduced in Little Britain, the one that seems to be the least amusing to me is the eighth man on the moon, Bing Gordyn.  All the good things I said about the show in my episode 2 review seem to fall by  the wayside when this new addition in on the screen. Seriously, while his debut in episode 1 was amusing, there are only so many chuckles you can wring out of the concept of a bitter astronaut desperately clinging to his former glory.  This week’s skit was just awful, save the very end. Long and pointless for not much pay off.

That’s one of the downfalls of sketch comedy.  Some things work, some don’t.  Some characters are worth the payoff, and some aren’t.  Bing Gordyn isn’t.  The character just doesn’t work for me in the slightest, and I hope he won’t show up too much more or they can figure out a way to make it as funny as his appearance in the first show.  

Gordyn should have served as an example of one of the things the show does pretty well, and that is one-off characters.  From the gun-lusting policeman in the first episode to the ‘big game’ hunters in the third program, Lucas and Walliams can do some good things with one-note jokes. 

Arguably, they should have done more of it for Little Britain USA, as that’s something Americans are pretty used to in our own sketch comedy programs.  

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One of the many difficulties in translating the show to the States is that the way things are done here are so different.   Our sketch comedies are always in front of live audiences, and the way a character becomes recurring is that it gets a huge reaction from the assembled crowd.  In a show like this, created in basically a bubble, you have to hope a character will work if you’re going to keep bringing him or her back.   With most of the show’s characters being recycled from the British version, the shows creators have a pretty good idea of what should work over here (after all, it’s been screened in the US on our version of the BBC).  It’s the newer characters that might have some trouble finding traction, or being worthy of being recurring.  

One of the show’s older characters that showed up in episode three is Emily, AKA Eddie Howard.  I love the conceit of taking a show that involves a lot of cross-dressing and have a character on said show who is an actual transvestite.  The only problem is I’m not sure that people here would get the joke (well, at first… the ending makes it fairly obvious).  I must’ve missed this character when I watched the show, or I’d forgotten about him/her, because it took me a while to get my head around the premise, too.  

This week was a bit of a step back from the second episode for me.  It had its moments, especially Harvey and Sebastian, but Bing kind of dragged the show down, as did the lackluster appearance of Vickie.  It’s still better than the first show, but it lacked flow and the pacing seemed odd, like they were a little short and had to drag out certain sketches.   Dragging is very bad. 

Sketch comedy is also a mixed bag, but you can’t have such a wide disparity between one episode to the next if you want to keep people coming back.  When you’ve got only 3 hours (well, less) to fill, there’s no excuse for every sketch not to be as funny as possible.  I’m not dissatisfied enough to stop watching, but I am a little disappointed.

Read the review of the last episode here.

US correspondent Ron Hogan is clinging tenaciously to his former glory. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi .

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