Apologies for the lack of action on the blog over the past few weeks – I’ve been hard at work on various secret projects (read: Portal 2 and playing Frisbee) so I’ve neglected you. Sorry about that. There is lots of stuff that I have written which you will be able to read soon hopefully.
For this week’s Short Friday it’s a bit of a first for the column that sets a precedent you may or may not be comfortable with: it's a comedy sketch, from a sketch show. But it is a self-contained mini-film in its own right, and it's from The Day Today, and saying The Day Today is a sketch show is like saying The Godfather is a men in suits go bang-bang film.
I would probably go as far as to say that The Day Today is the only television show I’ve ever seen that I could confidently describe as ‘perfect’. Six half-hour episodes. Every single frame of those six episodes of them incisive, executed with a level of detail that I haven’t seen equaled on television before or since, and funny. Really funny.
Let’s just pause for a moment to look at a selection of some of the things the writers and performers of The Day Today have produced since the show ended.
Brass Eye, Jam, Father Ted, The IT Crowd, Black Books, TV Burp, Friday Night Armistice, Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, The Trip,The Thick of It, I’m Alan Partridge, Knowing Me: Knowing You
Then in film:
Four Lions, In The Loop, 24 Hour Party People, and A Cock and Bull Story.
So that’s pretty much every great British television comedy made in the past 15 years (The Office and Peep Show are the only notable absentees), and unquestionably four of the best British films of the past decade.
Here’s the thing – as fantastic as all of the things I’ve just mentioned are, everyone involved in The Day Today has probably never topped it. That’s how fucking good it is.
Anyway, I was reminded by this particular moment of the show (a skit based around the conceit that in times of crisis, the government will provide an emergency broadcast of a morale boosting film) recently because I've noticed that there’s been a real apocalyptic feel about the news this year. We’ve already had at least four enormous natural disasters, a nuclear emergency, dictators slaughtering their own people, a genuine democratic revolution, crippling public service cuts, the revelation of the total corruption of the biggest conglomerate in the world (and likely corruption in our police force), the spectacular death of the world’s most wanted man, general unrest, rioting and disquiet all across the world, and we’re not even halfway through 2011.
Maybe I’m more sensitive to the news and its implications for the world than I used to be, but it really does feel like this is a year where God or Jebus or whoever has decided to stop arsing around on the pinball tables in heaven, roll His/Her sleeves up and take care of some business. As a result, I couldn’t help but watch the bunting-heavy recent wedding celebrations, (entertaining thought they were) and see it essentially as an extended version of this sketch - England coming together in a flurry of pomp and circumstance during troubled times to unite in 'the brotherhood of flags.’ Eveything’s OK. It’s fine. Look at Harry’s shiny medals, and Kate’s pretty dress, and Pippa’s shiny arse*. Everything’s great!
There’s nothing wrong with a big morale-booster, of course – but if we’re going to have one, before we all slide inexorably into the violent wasteland of the post-apocalypse, I’d prefer it was produced by Chris Morris and Armando Iannucci. Then at least we could have one last belly-laugh before we start harvesting our newborns for energy and precious minerals.
Anyway, congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge! May your first child be a healthy, protein-rich child!
*New band name - I call it