Is it our fault subversion is dead? If our interaction with the media of derision (I’m thinking Graham Norton here) is causal, rather then symbiotic, then the prognosis for satire is bleak. Researchers and developers of reality humiliation have looked straight into our soul and given us what we have ever more noisily told them that we want to see. There’s no point in trying to stay one step ahead – we were leading the way anyway.

Where can you go after this? Its easy to assume you know how to second guess the medium, until some savvy soul – Ricky Gervais, Chris Morris – points out otherwise. The Office and Jam throw us new ideas that leave us squirmingly uncomfortable, yet are compelling, aesthetic breakthroughs that we come to see as genius, like being forced to eat some hideous vegetable until becoming proud of a sophisticated new taste. Remember how awkward I’m Alan Partridge used to feel? That’s passe now.

What’s left? Standard fayre sitcoms like Absolute Power, that’s what. The envelope remains untouched, but its still desperately cutting away at what its sure must be the edge of something. It was engaging rather than funny, but Stephen Fry is always good value, and there’s something satisfying about a formula that promises a similar kind of a resolution in each episode, with the characters marching to their inevitable fates and the audience giggling at the pantomime.

But is this a trick? Perhaps we are witnessing a deeper subversion than has been let on. Fry is, among other things, a terribly clever man, and this might be his ploy to mire us in a genre, only to leap out from behind our screens later and laugh at us all for falling for his brilliant joke. This would be astonishing, of course. But unless there’s something more than the tradition of the first episode, this is going to disappear into a glossy vault, with a short afterlife on DVD. But that’s the convention, isn’t it?