Catch up TV reviews: Big Boys, Hypothetical, The 1% Club, Spreadsheet
James R | On 29, May 2022
Big Boys (All 4)
Jack Rooke becomes the latest comedian to bring his life to the screen in a semi-autobiographical sitcom, and the result is an endearingly heartfelt affair. The series follows Jack (Dylan Llewellyn), a fish-out-of-water at uni as he winds up starting his Fresher year a year later than planned, following the death of his dad. Unable to find a place for him in halls, he’s instead in a shed with Danny (Jon Pointing). Danny is straight, laddish and boisterous, while Jack is nervous, shy and gay. Their familiar double-act doesn’t always hit the funny bone, but there’s plenty of heart beneath the surface that gradually emerges, with a balance of light and dark that makes for compelling viewing. The chance for Llewellyn, aka James from Derry Girls, to take centre stage is an added bonus.
Hypothetical: Season 4 (UKTV Play)
Will Dave ever find the show to fill its Taskmaster-shaped hope? Several years on from that show’s jump to Channel 4, the answer is perhaps not, but Hypothetical just might be the best of the bunch commissioned in recent years, with its mix of panel show chatter and surreal improvisation. Josh Widdicombe and James Acaster present the show, which challenges comics to compete in a range of imagined scenarios, and the programme is best when the guests are willing to dive into the hypothetical problems without thinking twice – and the fourth season gets off to a strong start thanks to a surprisingly competitive turn from Richard Ayoade, who’s joined by an amusing and game Guz Khan, a precisely calculating Chloe Petts and the unflinching Maisie Adam. Acaster, meanwhile, is clearly enjoying the chance to be in front of an audience again, and the more surreal and outraged his outbursts become, the more you realise that you’re glad to have Hypothetical back on our screens.
The 1% Club (ITV Club)
ITV’s latest attempt to come up with a hit gameshow sees contestants try to win up to £100,000 by answering trivia questions. As the title suggests, they’ll only be able to take home the big money if they can answer a question that, statistically, only 1 per cent of the country would get right. The result is a moderately solid format, thanks to a blend of logic and common sense rather than pure general knowledge, but it’s winner thanks to the choice of host: Lee Mack. Mack has long been the king of panel shows, with his whip-smart wit keeping up one step ahead of most other comedians. As host, he’s in his element, able to dish out scathing, sarcastic or sometimes supportive one-liners at a rapid pace that gives things enough energy to keep you watching from one round to the next.
Spreadsheet (All 4)
“Sex. Isn’t it naughty?” That’s basically the premise behind this new Australian comedy, which stars Katherine Parkinson as Lauren, a lawyer and mother of two who is determined to maintain her work-life balance – the life part basically meaning as much casual intercourse as possible. Helped by her spreadsheet-handling assistant, Alex (Rowan Witt), the result is a string of vignettes and crossed wires, from inaccurate profile pictures and unclear professions to sending photos to the wrong people in your address book. So far, so dated, and the humour never manages to recover from a script that feels like it was written 10 years ago and therefore doesn’t really have any interest in trying to start a meaningful or serious conversation about relationships in the current, modern world. Katherine Parkinson does her best with the material, which means there are some chuckles on offer, but the notion that being frank about dating is enough to give this a modern edge soon runs out of steam.