Comedy

Saying Goodbye to 'Miranda': A Look Back

It’s official. Miranda Hart has announced that after a three series run, her what- I –call successful sitcom Miranda will be coming to a close. The comedienne revealed her plans on BBC Radio 2 with this statement. "So I'm doing two Christmas specials, but they are going to be the finale of the show, full stop."

It’s hard to believe that this sitcom debuted in the UK five years ago since it seems only yesterday I found my first Miranda episodes on YouTube. I’ve been a fan ever since. Here was a woman who could make fun of herself on so many levels including her size, her social awkwardness, and her upper middle class upbringing. I immediately identified with her humor - so much so that I bought the entire series on DVD even though it was only available on Region 2 which means I had to invest in a “multi-region” DVD player. I’ve even had Miranda viewing parties with my friends. Éclairs and wine were served. I think Ms. Hart would approve.

From the moment she invited us into the joke shop she bought with her sizeable inheritance, we knew that Miranda was a woman who marched to a different drummer. Her kooky sense of fun made us want to join right in.

Miranda’s supporting cast of memorable characters deserves their fair share of the kudos too of course. Let’s face it, without Miranda’s overbearing mother, Penny (Patricia Hodge); Stevie (Sarah Hadland), Miranda’s childhood friend and store manager; Tilly (Sally Phillips), Miranda’s boarding school chum and friendly nemesis; and the lovely Gary (Tom Ellis), Miranda’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, our heroine would just be a rather tall woman who loves to gallop and falls down a lot.

There will be so many things to miss when Miranda and company say their goodbyes at Christmas. Let’s revisit a few of the elements that make this sitcom so enjoyable.

Dead Funny Films: British Horror with a Playful Side

Halloween is just around the corner, that time of year when it’s fun to be scared. Or so they say. I’m not a big fan of traditional horror films, but I’ve found that those with a decidedly pronounced sense of humor can be quite entertaining indeed. At the very least a light, funny moment here and there can make all the blood and gore a little easier to take. Shaun of the Dead is probably the best example of a horror flick with an equal amount of comedy.

However, ten years after its release Shaun is a classic of this blended genre and you, my dear thrill seekers, are perhaps looking for something a bit more under the radar. The following is a list of horror comedies you can find on-line to satisfy your craving for a “dead funny” film.

Monty Python Live (Mostly): A Good Laugh and a Fond Farewell

Disclaimer: I am a life-long Monty Python fan so this post is very unlikely to be an objective account of the simulcast I am about to tell you about. That being said, yesterday I had the privilege of witnessing a very special event indeed – Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go.

As you’ve undoubtedly heard, the legendary Monty Python’s Flying Circus comedy troupe reunited after over 30 years away from the stage for a limited run of ten live shows at London’s O2 arena. For those of us who weren’t in the vicinity or couldn’t get their hands on a ticket, the Pythons kindly consented to turn their very last show into a worldwide party by live streaming the event to cinemas around the world and to UK residents on the Gold channel as well.

It was great to gather in a movie theater with other Python fans, people who know, love and, in many cases, can recite the sketches verbatim. If you’ve ever watched Monty Python with the uninitiated you may well know the confused scowls and the bewildered lament of “I don’t get it.” There was none of their ilk in the seats yesterday. Who’s going to pay $18 to watch a bunch of septuagenarians being silly on stage without being obsessively familiar with their body of work after all?

Bickering Telly Couples: ‘Vicious’ and Beyond

The sitcom Vicious has just started airing on PBS stations this past weekend and it certainly lives up to its name. Starring British acting legends Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi, the two play a gay couple who’ve been together for almost half a century. A lifetime of companionship has worn on their collective nerves and most of what remains between them is catty remarks, primarily from Freddie (McKellan), and not just a little resentment on the part of Stuart (Jacobi).

Of course deep down the two men really do love one another, but if everything between them was sweetness and light it wouldn’t be nearly as funny, would it?

That got me to thinking about other telly couples who are prone to rows and other types of altercations. Regardless of the nature of the relationship, discord and disagreement makes things interesting and, when you’re not the one in the middle of it all, funny as well.

The Comic Side of World Cup Soccer

In case you hadn’t heard, the FIFA World Cup Finals is in full swing in this year’s host country, Brazil. Teams from around the globe are battling it out on the football pitch aka soccer field to determine who is best at kicking a ball into a net.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that people are coming together to celebrate their passion for a common sport. It’s just that there’s so much of it. The finals phase is comprised of over 60 matches that are played over a month’s time.

Preview 'Vicious' Starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi, Premiering on PBS June 29

Gay comedy Vicious – starring acting legends Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi – will premiere on PBS stations nationwide beginning June 29.

McKellen and Jacobi play elderly gay couple Freddie and Stuart, who’ve been living together in a small central London flat for nearly fifty years. Their co-dependent relationship is largely focused around the two of them sniping at one another and walking the dog, but the two love each other deeply. Their lives are turned upside down by the arrival of a new upstairs neighbor named Ash, played by Game of Thrones' Iwan Rheon. Ostensibly, this will be a much less psychotic character than the one he plays in Westeros.

The sitcom aired in the UK last year, and its addition to the PBS roster marks a rather exciting foray into comedy for the network’s national Sunday night schedule which, I think it’s safe to say, is something we all hope continues into the future.

The first US trailer for the Vicious premiere at the end of the month has been released and, in an extremely pleasant surprise, it actually features different footage than the bits featured in the ITV promo last year. Huzzah.

‘Twenty Twelve’ Lives On in New BBC Mockumentary ‘W1A’

Good news for those of you that loved Olympics mockumentary Twenty Twelve – it’s back! Well, sort of. Since the London Games are long past in our collective rearview, we’re getting the next best thing – a sequel series! The new comedy comes complete with several returning characters from the original, including Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville as harassed executive Ian Fletcher and Jessica Hynes as PR whiz Siobhan Sharpe.

Called W1A, the new series will see Bonneville’s Fletcher take on a new role as the (fictional) Head of Values at the BBC. His task is to clarify, define, or re-define the core purpose of the BBC across all its functions and to position it confidently for the future, in particular for Licence Fee Renegotiation and Charter Renewal in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The show takes its name from the postcode of the BBC’s London headquarters and – given some of the real-life going on at the corporation lately, including the planned closure of BBC Three - art may end up imitating life fairly closely in this instance.

HBO's Newest British Remake: An American Version of Comedy "Getting On"

Another American version of a British series is headed to a television near you – though this one actually looks kind of entertaining. Possibly because it’s from HBO, which has already had some success adapting a British comedy for American audiences in their Emmy-winning Veep, which is a somewhat roundabout remake of political satire The Thick of It. (Honestly, the two shows are so different it feels strange to call Veep a remake, though they share a creator. But it seems fair to say it’s at least “inspired by” the British series..)

Next up, HBO is producing an American version of Getting On, the popular BBC Four comedy series about nurses working in a geriatric extended care wing of a National Health Service hospital. The US version will be comprised of six half-hour episodes, and will be set in a down-at-the-heels extended care facility in Long Beach, California. The comedy will star Roseanne’s Laurie Metcalf alongside Alex Borstein, Niecy Nash and Mel Rodriguez.

Watch the trailer for HBO’s new comedy below.

Finally Coming to Hulu: BBC Comedy 'The Wrong Mans'

It seems as though a year has gone by (and it almost has) since Hulu announced they were producing this particular new comedy in partnership with the BBC. Co-starring and co-written by James Corden of Gavin and Stacey fame and Matthew Baynton (Spy and Horrible Histories), this original series called The Wrong Mans is billed as a spy thriller within a sitcom.

Back To School – British Telly Style

It’s hard to believe another school year is about to begin. I reckon just like their American counterparts, British children are busily loading up their backpacks and rucksacks with new biros and pencils with fresh pink rubbers (a.k.a erasers) on the ends. No doubt they’re looking forward to donning their smart school uniforms for the first day of school.

During the year ahead, these students may be worried about passing maths or revising for their GCSEs. But more likely, they’re probably just hoping that their regular instructor will fall ill and be replaced by an unseasoned, unsuspecting supply teacher. Or is he?

The task of challenging young minds has been a subject often tackled in wonderful British films such as Goodbye Mr. Chips, To Sir with Love, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The History Boys which all featured dedicated, passionate pedagogues.

But if we’re talking telly, far more often it’s the comic side of the teaching profession that we see. Let’s look at a few examples of less than perfect sitcom educators:

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