Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

10 O’Clock Live and Friday Night Dinner

5 March 2011 by Nicholas in TV

Until South Park returns there is precious little I feel any sense of urgency to watch. Or even a mild, passing fancy. However I do watch 10 O Clock Live (on catch up, I am in bed by that time, typically) and have added Friday Night Dinner to the list.

10 O Clock live is a tag team effort consisting of David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker, Lauren Laverne and Jimmy Carr. To be honest, and increasingly so, I only watch it for Charlie Brooker. Aside from his oddly American pronunciation of “schedule” he is consistently very funny. Carr tends to be gimmicky, Laverne is under utilised and Mitchell is starting to seriously annoy me. This week he chaired a debate on discussion of immigration where he clearly sided with one of the participants who was massively disingenuous.

While extolling the virtue of immigrants he (the guest and, by extension, Mitchell) lumped all immigrants and their progeny together, rather than actually accepting that different people and different cultures can actually be different and have different effects. The guest blithely oscillated between anecdotal and statistical arguments depending on which actually supported his point while castigating someone else for doing the same. And Mitchell happily let him talk over the others in doing so. I realise it is meant to be a comedy show but this was no way to host a round table debate.

In another segment Mitchell complained about the idea of the speed limit on British roads being raised in the context of motorway driving. Motorway driving, which is the fastest legally allowed in the country, is also the safest. There was no attempt to actually back up any of his (incredibly stupid) rant with anything approaching statistics or reasoning because it would fatally undermine it. Speed is more likely to result in fatalities in a collision, but the fact remains that the key tipping point for fatalities is somewhere between 30 and 40 miles an hour. Not 70 and 80. In Germany they have much higher speed limits and, oddly enough, no reputation for being the most dangerous roads in Europe. I don’t drive, I have no axe to grind here, but Mitchell is quickly becoming a smug little man who has no actual capacity for making distinctions and nuanced argument rather than cheap arguments he tries to justify as somehow reasonable or intellectual.

Friday Night Dinner, by contrast, was brilliant and nigh flawless. All my reservations about the previous week changed into rasping laughs and snorts of amusement. The jokes were often crass, but not repetitive and all built into one another brilliantly. There were running jokes that were funny and showed progression rather than resorting to catchphrases. There is a logic in why the family gathers on a Friday night that I had missed in the previous episode and a real sense of a family dynamic. A lot of jokes stem from the plot and none really seem at odds with the rest of the events of the episode. And they are funny. Genuinely funny. I haven’t laughed as hard in months.