World Shut Your Mouth Review
At the root of World Shut Your Mouth is an idea which can only be described as half-arsed. This six-parter was produced by Dom Joly for the BBC following the relative failure of his chat show, The Dom Joly Show. That series had at least shown a change in direction from his Channel 4 hit, Trigger Happy TV with which he made his name, but here we a complete rehash of the format, albeit on a global scale (hence, presumably, the Julian Cope quoting title). As such we once again see Joly offer a more savvy take on Candid Camera and its ilk, this time with a fresh batch of characters and situations. The trademark is no longer the gigantic mobile phone, but an opening “sketch” in which Joly proclaims various world famous landscapes and buildings (the Great Pyramids, the Guggenheim, etc.) to be “shit”.
Of course, such bare faced repetition is hardly going to gain new fans, so the important question here is has kept the old ones? Essentially, the answer is yes; the Trigger Happy formula is completely adhered to meaning that World Shut Your Mouth is, to all intents and purposes, a fourth series, albeit under a different name and for a different channel. The humour still straddles the obvious (Wales equals cheap sheep gags), the absurd (a waiter with a giant pepper grinder) and the plain stupid, but amusingly so (the RoboCop-alike Metal Joe, who comes from the local “metal [sic] institution”), with the vast majority leant an extra frisson courtesy of its reality TV dimension and thus the participation of genuine members of the public. Moreover, Joly also retains his knack of the unusual such as when, dressed up a swotty schoolboy, he questions the intelligence of a bunch of skaters by asking “Who was Euclid?” or when, in another sketch, he lifts his kilt to reveal a puppet of Maxi Priest, “the king of light reggae”.
During such moments Joly cannot be faulted, yet there is also the other question as to whether this is all becoming a little too tired, especially when there are numerous other practitioners of this reality TV comedy style, some (such as 3 Non-Blondes) being more similar than others. The hit to miss ratio is still pretty much that of the original Trigger Happy TV, but there is now an overwhelming sense of déjà vu beginning to set in, even without the mobile phone. And the problem is that over the course of the six episodes this sense becomes increasingly stronger, especially during the longeurs or when Joly plays out one of repetitions just that once too often (the “being boring” conversations become exactly that once the reactions become predictable). At three hours there is the overriding feeling that this could have all been edited down into a trimmer, more palatable size (as VCI’s Best Ofs for the first two series of Trigger Happy TV). Likewise, Joly’s usually fine ear for a tune shows signs of the occasional misstep (Alex Parks - although he defends her in the commentary - and Kelly Osbourne nestled amongst the choicier Beta Band and Scott Walker cuts), but then DVD does offer us the skip button and so perhaps we can become our own compilers. After all, had someone else done the job we’d no doubt be bemoaning the omission of the underwhelming human onion or the tied-up cabbies.
World Shut Your Mouth arrives on DVD as a two-disc set, the first hosting each of the six episodes, the second the supplementary features. Of the former, the presentation quality is largely fine. The 1.77:1 aspect ratio has been presented anamorphically and looks as good as you could expect from a series shot on the run, as it were, and with tiny digital cameras. Likewise, the soundtrack only demonstrates the flaws of the original material without adding any of its own. Indeed, the disc reproduces the episodes in a manner that is, at the very least, on a par with their original broadcasts.
With regards to the second disc, the main extra is the bonus episode. However, it becomes immediately clear that this is, essentially, a half hour’s worth of the “better” disused footage capped with opening and closing credits. As such it’s amusing on a more intermittent level than the series proper though it still raises a number of smiles (the lost cat being amongst the more notable sketches). This outtakes pattern continues with the other two extras, a series of “Being Boring” sketches than were a little too boring to feature in any episodes and a behind the scenes featurette that combines more unused material with B-roll footage from around the world. Again, there’s nothing truly important amongst these pieces, but then they’re diverting enough.
More worthy are the commentaries that accompany every episode, including the bonus one, and the featurette. Initially Joly is only speaker, but is slowly joined by fellow producer Richard Webb (halfway through episode one), director Janet Knipe (halfway through episode four) and finally cameraman Al Campbell (near the end of episode six). Understandably, Joly does much of the talking here and he’s an amiable presence. We learn of the technical upgrades over Trigger Happy TV (i.e. more than one camera) and get the usual anecdotage which becomes especially interesting as the chat remains almost entirely scene specific. We are also pointed in the direction of Bill Bailey’s uncredited cameo, but then, slowly, things become a bit more shambolic, a bit more repetitious and a little too in-jokey as the episodes progress. As such it is best to either listen to commentaries in a pieces or just stick to the first hour or so.
As with the main feature, English subtitles are provided for all of the extras excepting the commentaries.