Posted in WTD |
Oh, I’m so glad you have a go at Funny Games, down with that sort of thing, indeed. A friend of mine really likes it and made me spend an agonizing 2 hours in front of it some years ago. What a complete piece of wank it really is. The message of anti-violence is better delivered via real masterpieces such as A Clockwork Orange or even Warriors. Funny Games will, inspite of the remake, never stop anyone from beeing violent.
(Excellent work on the Ted-box by the way!)
Hey Graham.. any updates you can give us on how you’re coming with the new series of IT Crowd? I was hoping maybe with the writers strike in the US, they might play the US pilot.. something to fill up the empty spots anyway. Lastly, what do you think of trying to get Ardal O’Hanlon to do a guest spot on the show? I’m sure it may look like stunt casting or something, but I only ask because he’s just so damn funny and the more he’s on TV the better IMO. I finished all of Father Ted and moved on to My Hero and have seen some of his stand up, which was hilarious. There’s another show called Blessed I’m going to check out, but I haven’t heard much about it. Anyway, thought maybe I’d put a bug in your ear. Thanks again for all the excellent shows and I can’t wait for the new series.
Progress on new series…slooooowwwwwwwww, as it always is at this point.
Love that O’Hanlon bloke too…nothing on the cards at the moment but in the future, who knows?
I am utterly confused by this news: John Michael Higgins to play Father Ted in the US remake, which is to begin shooting in January.
When did this all happen? Do you happen to have any information about this? Or is it utter bullshit? I must say, I am not looking forward to a non-Irish Father Ted. It’s oxymoronic (special emphasis on the “moronic” bit). It’s so essentially and necessarily Irish, to uproot it would, in my opinion, take away the very soul of the show.
Many thanks for the film recommendation. I haven’t watched a good torture for weeks. I’m buying my wife the Hostel box set for Christmas and I also hope to slip this one under the tree. Nothing says Christmas more than sound of a Black & Decker and some innocent screaming their lungs out.
Another great week on your blog, I think. You’re an inspiration to all of us.
New digital channel Dave (ugh) are showing repeats of Big Train at the moment; it’s ridiculously funny. And what a stellar cast! Why doesn’t Kevin Eldon get more work?
Given its ubiquity on YouTube, would a new series not be an option?
Thanks for another entertaining week. I discovered your blog a while ago and it’s now become a regular stop on my daily tour of the internets.
Sláinte, and have a good weekend!
Oooh helloooo!! *waves* xx
(Should I maybe not comment when I have nothing to say? Oh okay then…….)
Because you care:
Emily, don’t know anything about American ‘Ted’. I’m sure it’ll be a huge success! Bwa-ha!
Annoying that Higgens obviously thinks the show is made by Brits…it’s not an ‘Irish joke’, it’s an Irish comedy show.
If Funny Games is european, why do the actors all sound american? Only americans get themselves into such trouble or be so mean? Is it a comedy? That bit of classical music over such an intense trailer makes it all seem funny.
It’s a remake
I misread the video distributor on the Funny Games cover – instead of Kino Video, I read it as King Video. I would have then remarked that it should have prefixed Wan on to it.
Damn my eyes! Again!!
And I’ve been rewatching some episodes of the Goodies. Just because. And I’ve been thinking – why the heck did people back in the 70s and 80s think speeding up film makes the whole scene funnier? Benny Hill pretty much carved a career out of it, but even so..
An Irish ‘Father Ted’? Don’t be ridiculous.
I second the comment on Big Train (which we’ve only caught up on recently) and on Kevin Eldon. His guest role on Black Books featured the funniest sight gag ever (which we shamelessly use all the time, because it ain’t comedy until you’ve run it into the ground with repetitions). Yes, the finger.
And what about the wonderful Rebecca Front? Marvelous — and Julia Davis! and the two of them together in Nighty Night. What a terrific show.
I suppose a U.S. version of Father Ted may be hit or miss. Honestly I couldn’t see anyone else in that role capable of pulling it off like Dermot Morgan and company did.
There is a different vein tapped in U.S. comedy as well to be considered. Not sure if American sensibilities would accept irreverence to the degree of Father Ted…I’m sure there is some equation to describe the likelihood of success or failure but damned chaos theory would play a part and then the whole thing would be a wash.
I suppose it could be worse, the CBC in Canada could have tried to make it…but they’d have tried to make it in Nova Scotia and then madness would ensue.
Ah well. I suppose the magic that was Father Ted was due in no small part to the talents that were involved. I don’t think any broadcast alchemy can really rekindle that exact formula but you never know, it may create something wholly it’s own.
Loved the ballgame vid. I used to work with mentally disabled kids and I got that same warm feeling watching the ballgame vid as I used to get back then when the kids were laughing it up. Wonderful stuff.
I thought the War-and-Peace-going-on-a-blind-date was actually pretty funny (but, true, would have been better without the Larsony).
I thought ‘Hidden’ was an entertaining, thought provoking well acted piece. Haven’t seen anything else by him though. An american Father Ted? not even an english one would work!
Listen, don’t waste too much energy thinking about it. I certainly don’t.
Onward and Upward
Personally I welcome the idea of an American Father Ted. Not to put down the original show or anything (who am I to argue with a scientifically-proven genius?), but I always felt it could have been improved with a younger sexier cast, and that’s exactly what an American production will provide! After all, Dougal always looked a bit dim, and Father Jack was so scruffy. Maybe he could be played in a more animated style by Jerry Stiller…
With a big American budget you could finally move the characters from out of that cheap-looking house and into a more friendly set, like a lush apartment in Manhattan or somewhere. And with a sexier cast there could finally be a romance between Mrs. Doyle and Father Ted. Of course that wouldn’t really work with the whole Catholic thing, so they’d have to be Protestants. But the Catholic Church doesn’t have the best reputation anyway, and I always felt that the religious stuff was holding Father Ted back, so it would be a good move all round!
Last but not least, scrap that Divine Comedy theme (when was the last time they were in the charts?) get a killer tune in by… well, the Killers, and voilà! The sitcom Father Ted was always meant to be!
Do you know of any other successful sitcom writer blogs (British or American)? I’m particularly interested in those that talk a lot about the craft and the industry.
First of all, I didn’t realize that it’s just you writing “The IT Crowd.” I’m a dumb American, so I assume there’s a team of writers for every show. Evidently it’s just you I have to thank for the one show that my husband and I not only enjoy together but quote from so much that it’s almost a second language between us.
You’re spot on about the Larsoned cartoon with the books. I read it a couple of times to see if I missed anything, and the joke just got worse.
..can we call you ‘Linner’?
I love when your image links are broken.
I saw Kevin Eldon on stage at Wembley with Bill Bailey last night, riding around the stage on a the bastard child of a Segway and a Corby Trouser Press. That man has the widest array of disapproving expressions I’ve ever seen. I didn’t know the human face could make some of those shapes. I definitely second the vote for a new series of Big Train. We need some quality sketch shows to make up for all the rubbish variations on “The Firstname McLastname Show”.
Saw the first series of “Big Train” recently and loved it. Was already a big fan of the Pegg due to “Spaced”, “Shaun”, “Fuzz” etc… Big fan of the Eldon too. Thanks to “Blue Jam” mostly. And of course let’s not forget lovely Mark Heap, who I also first noticed in “Blue Jam”.
And despite seeing every episode I can’t for the life of me remember Eldon in “Black Books”. Nice excuse to watch it again.
So, to threadjack, in regards to British sketch comedy, what was the general concensus of “The Peter Serafinowicz Show”. I thought it was hilarious and a lot of the repeating characters were fantastic (I found Michael 6 way funnier than I should have), but I’m curious what you learned lot thought.
Graham: It’s that time of year again… And since I’ve never had the chance to say this before, THANK YOU for “A Christmassy Ted”. It’s a Christmas tradition in my house and has been for six years now.
Something I have always found annoying…
Why do TV shows always have to be re-made for America? Why oh why can’t the original version just be shown? I don’t think it makes America look very good – a show can only be imported if it’s been Americanised?
British TV is awash with American imports. We cope and still watch. I still watch the Simpsons, etc despite not knowing exactly what a twinkie is, what baseball entails, what Martha Stewart really does or when affronts to my ‘liberal’ sensibilities occur.
Are US TV execs right to be so patronising towards their audiences; are Americans really so insular and incurious?
Imagine if the reverse happened: a British sopranos. It’d be bloody awful! I hope if I was American that I would be given the chance to watch and would watch a great comedy show even if it featured gay cricket playing Cornish pasty eating bishops.
Sorry Graham but I have to disagree with you on Funny Games. I, too, hate films in which violence is condemned but then glorified through the direction (Boondock Saints, anyone?) but I don’t think it qualifies. You’ll notice that most of the violence happens on-screen. I think this is because he didn’t want us to get ANY enjoyment out of the pain and suffering of the family, while most movies would try to make it cool or exciting. He strips away all the emotions associated with movie violence and leaves us with people killing people. I thought it was a brilliant statement of that.
As for the remake, the reason he’s doing it is because Hollywood was going to remake it anyway, so rather than let some hack director ruin it, he offered to do it himself. I think it’s a great idea so long as they don’t make him change the ending like they did with The Vanishing.
apintofbeer: The Americanisation of TV shows is really annoying. I think I’ve mentioned it on here before, the US version of “Men Behaving Badly”. Honestly, if you can track down episodes of this atrocity, you really should. I can’t even come up with words harsh enough to describe the show.
The closest I’ve seen to a show making it onto network TV largely unmolested was when “Stressed Eric” made it over here… And then they bollocksed that and had Hank Azaria redub all of Mark Heap’s dialogue. So you have all these English characters, and then inexplicably an American at the centre of it all. You’ll be unsurprised to learn the show died a miserable death.
I think a lot of it is xenophobia. Let’s face it, a lot of American’s don’t like us foreign types. They have PBS when they want to get their Brit on, and there we should all stay, in exile it would seem.
It never ceases to amuse me that you can get into arguments over TV comedy with American’s, and the three examples they always cite as examples of great American comedy from days gone by are “All in the Family” (rip off of “Till Death Us Do Part”), “Sanford and Son” (rip off of “Steptoe and Son”) and “Three’s Company” (rip off of “Man About The House”.)
Larsony is ubiquitous. You can’t even buy a simple birthday card now in London without having to stare at hundreds of unfunny third person captioned cartoons or old photographs. The last time I got one of these from my wife I almost cried – I thought she hated me…
But I do, Dave…
HAHAHA! Awesome Liza…
Michael “Happy” Haneke sets out to prove that violence isn’t entertaining by making a really un-entertaining violent film (alright, the violence is nearly all offscreen, but that actually makes no difference), FUNNY GAMES. Twice. Then he shows that living with your aging mum isn’t entertaining by making a really un-entertaining film about someone who lives with their mum, THE PIANO TEACHER. Then he shows that films aren’t entertaining by making HIDDEN.
I look forward to his first comedy, in which he will demonstrate that slipping on a banana skin is actually quite sore.
I was walking down Grafton St yesterday and I passed by a guy who was the IMAGE of Moss, not Richard but Moss. He looked throughly unimpressed to be stuck shopping with two girls. Anyway, I snapped a picture and sent it to my housemate (we’re both obsessed with IT) and he texted back;
“Hahaha! Brilliant. Things OF the night!”
I put the photo on my flickr if you want to see, http://www.flickr.com/findingfaces (click it to enlarge)
Very close resemblance, but he looks a little too “cool” to be Moss.
More on anthropomorphic books in comics:
While your comments are still open – chance to feedback:
I enjoy your blog postings and it often informs my teaching perspective (both in terms of a secular worldview and just the humour – both are valued and valuable in my job).
One thing I get tired of is how you so freely slate anything of a Christian/theistic perspective with such lack of understanding and then appear to turn on those who misunderstand your own efforts – e.g. IT Crowd and FT. I agree with you on that last point, that some people are too harsh and don’t get it (and therefore should just shut up until they know any better), but by the same token it occasionally feels like you yourself are doing the same thing by wielding such a bitter (and seemingly ignorant) axe. Once again, I am not condoning dim politically motivated religious sorts who know little of the wider picture, but I am reacting against what you seem to be saying about anyone associated with religion. Straw man arguments are easy to make but they lack integrity.
I hope you take this comment in the positive spirit that it is intended.
To each his own, D Cairns. I’ve only seen one other Haneke film: Code Unknown. I wasn’t mad for it but I did appreciate it. I guess I have more of a taste for that sort of thing.
Drood: re the Americanisation of British TV… I think the reasons are largely economic.
American network TV just doesn’t revolve around the short series of (typically) six episodes that work over here. Partly that’s because a show doesn’t really turn a profit until it hits syndication and that requires something like 100 episodes. You don’t get to 100 episodes making 6 a year.
It’s not always true… on HBO the economics are different because the audience pays to watch stuff, so they make shorter series and don’t have to chase the syndication goldmine in the same way.
So while they could buy 6 episodes (or 12 or 18) it would be pointless for a network to do this as whatever show it was would just get lost in the “Fall Season” where an audience used to a show lasting 20+ eps would feel like it had gone before it had begun.
BBC America shows things as they are and has a loyal following in some areas but that’s cable and a niche market. For the networks… only long series work… so if they like something they have to make their own version of it.
The American version of The Office works for me. Steve Carrell = ace. But yes, most do fail.
Rama…I’m sorry if you find the anti-religious stuff insulting, but it doesn’t come from ignorance. I was brought up Catholic.
I for one would absolutely welcome a US version of Father Ted – however, to make it more appropriate for Americans, it really would have to be evangelical christians, rather than catholics. Make one a boozing nutter like father jack, a knucklehead like dougal and a vegas hopeful like ted – that’d work. Somehow though you’d have to incorporate the evangelicals fascination with homosexuality, as well as their whole right wing thing. Oh, and it’d totally have to go on cable – this would simply never fly on network television. If it ever came to fruition, I believe it would most likely be nominated as the funniest and most hated series on american tv. Bring it ON!
DG: Given the swiftness at which shows are cancelled here, it’s at the point now where a 6-12 episode UK show wouldn’t be out of place and would be around longer than a lot of other shows.
As for syndication, having consulted the always reliable Wikipedia (ROFLCOPTER!) it says 100 is about the standard. There is no hard and fast rule apparently.
Of course syndication cuts a couple of minutes from each show so they can fit more commercials in. So syndication kinda sucks. Though different areas have different cuts. I’ve seen syndicated “Simpsons” episodes with certain lines cut that have appeared on other networks. Conversely the other networks had different parts cut. One example is when Ned puts himself in the mental hospital. The doctor says “May god have mercy on us all”, asks his wife where something is, she replies and he says the same line again. This is missing from some syndicated versions, but I’ve seen it intact on other syndicated broadcasts.
Damon: Showtime or HBO are about the only chance of a US Father Ted that doesn’t suck.
David – you’re right that Grand Larsony has almost taken over the greetings cards market but if it’s GOOD Larson-copying and the joke works well then who’s to complain? I work in the greetings card industry myself and have written thousands of these kinds of cards, and the general public can’t seem to get enough of them. Of course a few stinkers slip through the old quality net but by and large I’d rather have a clever Larsonesque third-person gag on a birthday card than a big pop-up cock, which I saw recently in Clintons.
ha ha ha ha I think I’d rather the pop-up cock
at least you can laugh ironically – it’s funny on a number of levels actually, especially if you are laughing at the broader intention behind it and who it is aimed at.
I will never forget the night walking home with my best mate in high school over a long bridge in a fog on a freezing cold night and in the distance seeing the small speck of lone figure approaching. At that time of night there is always an element of fear as you dont know who it is and what state of mind they will be in, but after a while the figure started to become familiar. Eventually we could make out who it was and it was a guy we had both gone through primary school with, who was now a heavy metal fan with a metallica t-shirt, tight black jeans, long hair and boots. When he passed us he nodded briefly and acknowledged us both by saying “Coit” and kept walking.
No, the use of penile reference is funny on very many levels.
Rob Grant: pro IT Crowd
BTW, glad you liked that vid, HM.
I’m ethnically Jewish on my mother’s side, but was baptised and brought up Anglican. Married into a Catholic family who have pretty much given up on it completely.
My father is agnostic but now goes to a Catholic church on a regular basis (the good thing, however, is that the church has a “members-only” pub which both he and I have made good use of.
No wonder I turned out the way I have. ;)
I saw this and thought of Ted:
you probably already know these cartoons I think they’re great. Especially this one.
love the site
Not seen that site before, Shane! My first comic on there involved a kid in a hospital bed asking a baseball player to “hit one for” him. Won’t spoil the gag, but that, and the next couple I saw, are hilarious.
Graham – I used to work at Talkback and was at one of their summer parties a few years ago which you were also at. I wanted to go and tell you how much I admired your work, but thought that you probably get a lot of strangers coming up and talking to you, so decided to leave you in peace.
Looking at your blog I can see you are kind enough to respond to questions/comments from fans so thought I would take this opportunity to say hello, given that I didn’t do it when I had the chance.
Keep up the great work.
Not wishing to be a pain in yer erse, Graham… but I asked, up above, whether you had any recommendations for successful sitcom writers who blog (because I regard you as sailing into that category with graceful ease, although…), especially ones that talk about writing day to day and about what it’s like to be in the industry.
Big fan of Father Ted, Black Books, Big Train and IT Crowd. Me fave bit of IT Crowd was Noel Fielding clinging to the ceiling in the last series. Inspired bonkerdom.
Sorry, Bod, I don’t.
Bod, you could start with the following link:
and the BBC writers room has some stuff, too.
I’d also say that a good source of insight comes from a writer’s commentary on a DVD. You can get clues to their process there.
Rama, I agree with you that some posts seems extremely dismissive about religion. I used to be an angry atheist myself (my dad was a lay preacher). I hated all that religious pigheadedness and hypocrisy (and there’s a rich source of that in catholicism). After dealing with a few demons of my own, I’ve learnt that most of my anger came from not understanding that everybody had their own belief system, whether it was based in religion or personal experience, and that attacking anybody’s belief system will cause an emotional reaction.
I don’t believe Graham wants to cause offence; I just see an emotional reaction to stuff that doesn’t agree with his own belief system. And where better to express that in a personal blog?
I find the Larson third person perfectly acceptable and amusing, but I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise. I’d be interested in more analysis on here of precisely why you find it so dreadful Graham. Perhaps next time you post an example and criticise the piece for using the technique, you could expand a bit on exactly what offends you so much?
bod/Graham- How ’bout “Permanent Midnight” by Jerry Stahl?
Bod – Another good blog by a sitcom writer is Ken Levine’s blog http://kenlevine.blogspot.com He has lots of good stuff on his times at MASH and Cheers, and numerous insights into comedy writing.
I disagree that rejecting magical beings and events is a ‘belief system’. Is not believing in the tooth fairy a ‘belief system’?
RE: Tom releases the hounds.
I while back, I pretended to have joined the Scientology Cu– er, Religion and posted this on my blog.
“I had my electric shock therapy that day. It stung like a bastard and now I can’t get ‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls out of my head.
Yes, Tom Cruise was there also. He’s waist high in reality and smells of burnt flesh. Out of the public eye, he communicates via the medium of dance only. At a recent speech for Scientology he broke down and confessed his homosexuality and general hatred of women by way of a delightful Texas two-step. Man, that creepy little fucker can move…”
I know you’re dead busy and all and this is an unorthodox wait of contacting you – but is there any possibility that you would do a Q&A for a piece in the Irish Post – the voice of the Irish in Britain. I am a journalist (I actually write for a newspaper called Cage& Aviary Birds at the moment). It wouldn’t take much time and you could do it by phone or e-mail. You’d be helping a young journalist out – which can be a good thing.
I tried calling your PR company – and well I was hoping the direct approach might be more successful. I do enjoy your work and your blog.
All the best,
Larson third person: I hate the way cartoonists use it in the belief that it automatically ‘classes up’ a weak gag (or, in the case of the two books, a meaningless one). That’s all.
Graham, I’m not sure if I made myself clear. I was referring to the fact that we all believe in something, whether that is unicorns or that we are probably going to still be alive at the end of the day. I define myself as an atheist because I don’t believe in any supernatural power or the afterlife. I do, however, believe that my wife loves me and that most people are inherently decent, even though I can’t prove it.
I don’t want to sound all preachy, so I’ll stop going on about this. I just think this sort of thing is interesting.
And to lighten the note:
Ah. Fair enough.
I’d completely forgotten that Big Train was partly/mostly your fault Graham. Well done:)
I find it amusing that British comedy has this core group, all associated, and very funny at the center. I can pretty much trace any great current British comedy actor I like to any other. There are two people who make this insanely easy because of their body of work. One of them is Simon Pegg. The other is Graham Linehan. I’m sure if you sat down and drew a chart to link folk, you’d find those two at the center of a big comedy universe:)
Incidentally I’m curious why you’re thanked on “Curse of the Were-Rabbit” Graham. (My kids love Wallace and Gromit.)
I am so late to this particular party, but I just wanted to say thank you for the reminder of the peerless Mr Andy Kaufman. I feel I have not thought about his boundary challenging stuff for far too many years.
I promise to never go a week without taking a moment to laugh with him.
Thank you, again.
Drood, regarding ‘W&G’. I did a day with a bunch of other writers, suggesting extra jokes etc etc. Not enough for a credit but enough for a thank you.
Thanks Graham. I figured it was probably a polish job on the script or something. I was kinda right. I ever get my second draft finished of my screenplay, maybe I’ll hire you to polish it. (HA! Like I could afford you! Mister Rich Comedy Genius:))
Okay, I can’t resist wading into the ‘Funny Games’ debate. I agree with most of what Noah says, above, and have to come out strongly in support of Michael Haneke. He has been called the cinematic ‘conscience of contemporary Europeans’ (something along those lines, anyway) and while this sounds a bit grand and overblown, it generally applies. I think of him as an intelligent lefty/liberal filmmaker whose films act as a much needed antidote to the vast majority of the simple-minded bollocks we see on our screens. There are precious few films that do go against the mainstream in this pointed political way, so, if you’re an intelligent left-leaning person anyway, why rubbish his efforts? You don’t have to like ‘Funny Games’, but I think it’s blindingly obvious that Haneke has steered clear of exploitation and produced a powerful critique of screen violence. (Note: the film is about VIOLENCE ON SCREEN not violence in general. Important distinction.)
Graham – I get the feeling you’ve heard friends, Guardian columnists, etc., raving on about how wonderful Haneke is and you’ve simply had it up to here. Fair enough. But that’s no excuse for a knee-jerk bad review, which is, sorry to say it, simply WRONG WRONG WRONG.
Besides that, though, thanks for a great blog! I never miss an entry.
Well, Sout, I don’t see why I should like him because he’s ‘left-leaning’. And as for ‘knee-jerk’, the film’s ten years old! How long do you think it takes for my knee to react?
I don’t mind Haneke that much. I just don’t think it takes a hell of a lot of talent to bore and frustrate an audience–most of the simple-minded films you talk about do it all the time. As for making a violent film to complain about screen violence…I guess the irony there is so huge, he thought he could get away with it… and he was right! Maybe he is a genius after all.
I was thinking the same about Chavez.. Could this of been a trick to make us believe there is a democracy there, or is it genuine? Chirst, look what they’ve done to me..
Graham – no, you shouldn’t like him just because he’s ‘left-leaning’. I just felt I had to chip in some defence for Haneke, and a pretty good defence I think it is. And the knee-jerk reaction, unless I’m misreading things, was to the recent release of the remake, sparking off a revisiting of the original.
Yes – using violence to ‘complain’ about screen violence is a fine line to tread. I’m sure Haneke knows that, and was at pains to avoid the old trap of criticising a thing without reinforcing/exploiting it. It’s a very difficult thing to pull off. I can’t help thinking that you’ve done this yourself, possibly many times. The example that comes to mind is the Father Ted racism episode – where Ted fails spectacularly to convince his Chinese neighbours he’s not a racist. I think this is possibly the best example I can think of of taking the piss out of the awkward minefield surrounding talking about racism, without actually stepping on any of the mines yourself. Perhaps none of this even occurred to you or Arthur Matthews during writing, but it’s what struck me at the time, and I think that episode was spot-on.
Regarding Haneke, I guess I just like his films, whereas you not so much.
Ah, debate is good.
This’ll tell you everything you need to know about Chavez and the kind of people he’s up against.
Anyway, no more comments. I gotta work! See you next week.
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