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(For BBC TV reviews and round-ups, see our weekly Best of BBC iPlayer column. Or for reviews of the shows on All 4’s Walter Presents, click here.)
Hot on the heels of Red Dwarf comes another original comedy from Dave. Zapped sees the broadcaster hop from sci-fi to fantasy, as we see marketing assistant Brian (James Buckley) transported back to a parallel medieval world, after he puts on a magical bracelet.
The secret to such outlandish concepts is to root them in the everyday and, sure enough, Zapped swiftly emerges as a sitcom, with most of the opening episode spent in the local pub, hanging out with warrior-turned-landlord Herman (Louis Emerick), a witch with a crush on Brian, Barbara (Sharon Rooney) and armchair revolutionary Steg (Ken Collard).
There are some decent laughs, particularly when it comes to Brian trying to describe his meaningless modern job to the others, but the highlight is Paul Kaye, who, fresh from Game of Thrones and Vinculus in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, has a whale of a time as a high-off-his-face wizard. The result is likeable and certainly has potential – full credit to Dave for ordering three episodes of this, rather than just a pilot, to give it a real chance to find its feet. Don’t be surprised if we get more at a later date. The first episode of Zapped is broadcast on Dave on Thursday 13th October at 9.40pm. You can watch it now on UKTV Play.
Available until: 12th November (Episode 1)
A Nokia ringtone goes off in a crowded place. A man with sunglasses stands up with a gigantic phone. “HELLO?” For anyone around 16 years ago, the words “Trigger Happy TV” will instantly bring back memories of Dom Joly’s hidden camera series, which managed to update pranks for the 21st century. Ask young comedy fans today, though, and those words, like The Fast Show or Big Train, will probably mean nothing.
The decision to bring back the show for Channel 4’s online platform All 4, then, might seem a tad bizarre, but the rebooted comedy takes a leaf out of the book for the copious pranksters on YouTube: the series has become a string of shorts instead of 30-minute episodes, making the most of the rapid nature of Joly’s stunts.
Joly has just the right balance of old tricks and new gags, with mobile phone man updating for the video age – while also becoming a swipe at the social media culture for only presenting your dream life to all and sundry – and squirrels still attacking each other in the streets. Others are more hit than miss, from a brief jaunt in Venice to a “Britain Says No” mobile reality TV show. But the brief runtime means that it’s never long to wait for the next hit, with Trigger Happy remaining at its best when being weird for the sake of it, or laughing at its characters (the angry cyclist is a gem) rather than members of the public. That underlying philosophy makes Joly’s skits far more pleasant to watch than, say, YouTube’s recent Natural Born Pranksters movie. 16 years on, Trigger Happy is as fun and rapid-fire as ever.
Available exclusively on All 4