Les Anderson looks at this BBC3 comedy sketch show which is available to buy now…
Recently I’ve rather liked a lot of the comedy output from BBC3 and although I had heard of The Wrong Door I hadn’t seen any of it when it was transmitted in 2008 (to very mixed reviews). It has taken almost two years for this sketch series from BBC3 to hit the DVD stands and the only reason I can think of for this delay is that it stinks worse than a freshly curled-out whoopsie on your living-room carpet. Since its creation in the early 2000s, BBC3 has produced its fair share of comedy hits and misses. Its sketch format shows over the years have ranged from the wildly successful (Little Britain) to the well-crafted niche shows (Tittybangbang and Scallywagga) to the tragic WTF? vanity project (Horne and Corden). The Wrong Door hurtles disastrously toward the latter. And it’s a great pity that it does because on paper it looks a sound proposition.
The basic concept behind the show is to take contemporary comedy situations and give them a fashionably surreal twist by incorporating modern visual effects usually in the form of CGI. So, for example, a young woman’s new boyfriend is a CGI dinosaur – which no-one seems to notice. Or a magician carries out unbelievable trick shots on a snooker table. Or a young man takes driving lessons – in a Jumbo Jet. Unusually for a sketch format show there are very few recurring characters. Instead each of the six episodes has a loose theme – for further details check out the wikipedia entry on the show on the following link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wrong_Door
So what is the problem with the show? Judging by the sheer quantity of people onscreen and the variety and scope of locations, the Beeb must have thrown money at it. They also managed to rope in some of the top comedy character talent this country has to offer. Amongst the many unknowns you’ll find familiar faces like Pippa Haywood, Alex MacQueen, Tom Price, Matt Hardy, Rasmus Hardiker, BRIAN BLESSED! and the ever-reliable and unsung comedy goddess Georgie Glen (you’d recognise her instantly as she has been in everything ever filmed in Britain in the last 20 years). In my humble opinion the problem lies in two areas. First of all the writing is just piss-poor. BBC3’s target audience is explicitly stated as young adults aged 16-34 and if you want proof-positive of the growing infantilisation of British society then this offering tragically proves it. Although labelled ‘adult humour’ it rarely rises above the kind of thing we used to snigger about in primary school. For instance one of the recurring threads is an X-Factor style audition panel where would-be superheroes can strut their stuff. The first auditionee is The Human Spider whose sole talent is the ability to pull out lengths of rope from his arse accompanied by farting sound effects. It’s the sort of thing 5-year-olds would find embarrassing and I have no doubt the looks of horror on the faces of Pippa Haywood (Lady Libido) and Alex MacQueen (Captain Justice) are not down to any acting.
There is a long-standing British tradition of saucy nudge-nudge humour which was always delivered with a sly twinkle in the eye and a dig in the ribs (think of someone like Joan Sims as a refined lady traveller seeking directions to the local hostelry by asking ‘How far is The Cock Inn, young man?’). Or even Mrs Slocombe’s assiduous attention to her pussy’s needs (which is sophisticated humour compared to what is on offer here). The Wrong Door instead just kicks you in the tender parts and grinds its foot. The nadir has to be the Saucy Aliens from the planet Bo-llocks thread which climaxes (literally) with an astonishingly crass denouement which I couldn’t believe I was watching and which I’m too embarrassed to describe. It makes Flesh Gordon look like Blade Runner.
The second problem is the quality of the visual effects. The cgi budget just didn’t match the show’s scope and they shot themselves in the foot by having so many different ideas instead of sticking to a few recurring characters and settings. This meant the budget was spread very thin. Most of the cgi work looks cheap and nasty – Philip the dinosaur being one example. I appreciate the show has a deliberate cartoonish aesthetic but even so. But having said that there are some gems amongst the dross – the snooker trick-shots are very convincing and The Flame (a cheaper version of The Human Torch) is also rather well done in its own simple way.
But despite this and the presence of some very talented and experienced performers, the material is so poor even they can’t do anything with it which proves the old adage that you can’t polish a turd. The BBC has squandered a sack of licence-payers’ hard-earned money on this drivel and I have spent 3 hours of my life watching this just so you don’t have to. Spend your money on Hounded instead.
There is a single disc containing all six episodes, each approx 28 minutes long. Each episode is split into four chapters which are menu-accessible.
Transfer and Sound
The show is presented in anamorphic widescreen in 1.85:1 ratio. As you would expect the image is sharp and crisp although on a larger screen most of the visual effects look even cheaper and nastier. The sound is excellent and clear in 2-channel stereo which is sometimes a pity as we then have to listen to lines like ‘I am Captain Bentkok from the planet Bo-llocks’.
Just English subtitles.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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