Catch up TV reviews: The Last Leg, As Yet Untitled, Rich Brother Poor Brother, Rescue Dog to Super Dog
James R | On 12, Jun 2016
Power Monkeys (All 4)
“Don’t worry about facts – that’s the old politics.”
Last year, the country was torn in a decisive vote about the future of the UK – and Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin’s were there to provide up-to-the-minute satire with their sitcom, Ballot Monkeys. Now, as the EU Referendum looms, they return with Power Monkeys, which boards the battle buses once more for candid insights into the chaos and confusion behind the Leave and Remain campaigns.
With the majority of it filmed on the day of transmission, the aim is to prove edgy and topical, something that Ballot Monkeys got better at as it went along. It’s no surprise, then, that Power Monkeys should start off fairly weak, with mostly familiar, middle-of-the-road material poking fun at UKIP, despite them not being in the centre stage of the debate so far. Any misses, though, are just about made up for with the hits by the portrayal of Trump’s and Putin’s teams, who are watching from the sidelines. “The President has no interest in Harry Potter,” observes one aide to Vladimir. You’ll be hard pressed not to chuckle.
Photo: Channel 4 / Adam Laurence
The Last Leg (All 4)
Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker return for another run of banter on Channel 4’s Friday night comedy talk show. Their amusing, if obvious, combination of brash humour and unsubtle interrogation of guests is as brash and unsubtle as ever, so it’s worth catching up with this week’s Season 8 debut, if only to see what it’s like when they come face to face with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn acquits himself surprisingly well, gamely turning up in a fur coat and tux (not to mention a limo), before fielding questions on him having no personality or sense of humour. His reaction to pictures of David Cameron holding a pig and jokes about Nick Clegg suggest otherwise, but it’s bizarrely endearing to see an old bloke go on a primetime TV show aimed at young people and proudly talk about his love of manhole covers and train timetables. And that’s before Russell Crowe turns up. For the post-pub crowd or the politically curious, this diverting hour of telly hits the spot.
Photo: Channel 4 / Ian Derry
Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled: Season 4 (UKTV Play)
Earlier this year, Netflix premiered its “groundbreaking” new series, Chelsea, which promised to revolutionise the talk show. Alan Davies and Dave, though, beat them both to it with As Yet Untitled. The show sees a random group of comedians and celebrities sit around a table and talk about… well, anything they fancy. The aim? To come up with a title for the episode by the time it’s over, based on what’s they’ve discussed. In an age where talk shows have given up interviewing guests in favour of stunts designed to go viral on YouTube, this unpredictable, unique series is something that should be treasured. Low-key jokes and natural conversation is on the cards, with Davies amiably keeping the chat going without intruding or imposing. With Stephen Fry and Sara Pascoe trading jokes about cocktails and Alex Edelman explaining how he almost punched Barack Obama, no wonder it’s on its fourth season already.
Rich Brother Poor Brother (All 4)
The divide between the ‘have’s and the ‘have not’s has never been wider, so it seems all too prescient that Channel 4 should broadcast this documentary about two estranged siblings. Ivan Massow is a multi-millionaire, who has sold several businesses to get to where he is. His brother, David, lives in a van. We follow them as they spend four days together and, from dinnertime to networking events for gay entrepreneurs, the juxtaposition of the two figures is an interesting sight. From Ivan referring to David as a trendy accessory to David happily riding a horse, their reconciliation (and refusal to meet halfway on certain issues) makes for engaging human drama – but as David interrogates Ivan about whether he ever bought his poorer brother a boat as promised, you can’t help but feel there’s a missed opportunity here to examine something greater.
Photo: Love Productions
Rescue Dog to Super Dog (All 4)
Six rescue dogs are paired with six people with disabilities in this sentimental series. Can trainers turn the dogs into top disability pets? There are no treats for guessing the answer, as the sweet music plays and the adorable footage begins. But the humans carrying on with life despite their disabilities are quietly inspiring figures – Emily’s narcolepsy, triggered by moments of extreme emotion, is played for gentle laughs, but only because she approaches the condition with such impressive humour – and, even when the show borders on manipulative, there’s something undeniably comforting about watching dogs help people. Sometimes, that’s just what you need.
Photo: Channel 4 / Mark Johnson