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Oct 03

Remember option two of how to expand a comedy show

Do You SeePost a comment • 339 views

Remember option two of how to expand a comedy show, especially for a movie? Option one was always send the cast on holiday together, but a close runner-up was to add a weedy crime thriller plot, usually where our hero(es) witness some awful crime. This fallback hasn’t vanished.

Grass is a strange series. It’s another Fast Show spinoff, this one starring Billy Bleach, the annoying and interfering pub knowall, as played by Simon Day. That schtick worked very nicely in 30-60 second sketches, but would hardly sustain a series of 30 minute shows – and indeed would be intolerable to watch. The attempt at extending Swiss Tony was pretty poor, but this is a quite different proposition.

Billy has witnessed a murder and is being sequestered in the countryside by the police. The knowall element to his character has almost vanished, and what’s left does not lead everyone into hopeless dead ends from which he flees, but instead transforms into genuine helpfulness. It doesn’t make for a terribly rich or strong character, to be honest, but at least there are a few good supporting characters, particularly the always excellent Philip Jackson (I’m not just praising someone I used to know, honest, though I did know him 20 years ago), though there is something of a gulf in acting chops between the support and the star. There aren’t many gags either – three episodes in and I don’t think I’ve been tempted to smile once. I’m not absolutely convinced it has any jokes, despite feeling like a sitcom. There are certainly no funny situations – the threat from the murderer really feels dangerous.

But there is something I like – a sweetness, an almost touching element beneath the clunking plot, tepid star and lack of laughs. Maybe I’m just easily pleased. I can’t remotely see it as a hit, but do give it a try.

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