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Horde of Angels, Come Forth: Taking a Peek at "That Mitchell and Webb Look"

Sketch comedy is an extremely difficult art form to nail effectively. When it works, it's absolutely brilliant fun (just ask any fan of BBC's subversive and absurd Little Britain), but when it doesn't, it's absolutely painful to watch.

Luckily then, BBC America's newest acquisition, That Mitchell and Webb Look, which launches this Friday evening, falls into the former category than the latter. Starring and written by Robert Webb and David Mitchell (of Peep Show and Magicians fame) in an assortment of wigs and costumes, That Mitchell and Webb Look is an uproarious collection of un-PC sketches featuring a plethora of strange and bewildering characters, most of whom you wouldn't want to meet in an alley, dark or not. They're joined in these sketches by a group of talented actors, including Olivia Coleman (The Office, Peep Show), James Bachman (Saxondale, Hyperdrive), and Patterson Joseph (Green Wing).

In the two episodes provided for review, I've already fallen under the series' twisted spell and discovered some of my favorite sketches (some of which seem likely to recur). There's the hilarious parody of children's television in the form of "Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit," in which (you guessed it!) a white-bearded angel summoner and a BMX-riding, er, bandit fight crime and rescue hostages, all while bickering whether they should deploy angels (activated by a mighty cry of "Horde of Angels, come forth!") or whether a wheelie or other BMX trick would do the job. Hint: the angels usually trump the bike skills. Then there's drunk snooker commentators who find themselves distracted by alcoholic gifts (and the sexiness of one snooker player) whilst on the air.

Wish there was a parody of math-themed gameshows? You're in luck with "Numberwang," an absurdist look at a quite possibly mental game which appers to have no gameplay, logic, or rules whatsoever. The best bit: when they turn the board before Wangernumb. Hilarious.

But I have a special place in my heart for Sir Digby Chicken Caesar and Ginger, a pair of crime-fighting vigilantes on the search of Sir Digby's nemesis. But basically, they are a pair of drunken homeless people more apt to steal people's wallets and pilfer the bodies of the dead than stop robbers or track down criminals. Sir Digby himself suffers from no less than delusions of grandeur, paranoia, and fear of persecution. Then again, he probably thinks he's the subject of some sketch comedy too.

The end result is a half-hour of zany hilarity, populated by a series of characters each more hilarious and bizarre than the last, including "the incredibly posh people who are still unaccountably waiters." If that last bit doesn't make you smile on this mid-winter day, you're definitely in need of the madcap humor of That Mitchell and Webb Look. It might just be the best sketch comedy since the Monty Python boys.

That Mitchell and Webb Look airs Friday evenings at 9:20 pm ET/PT on BBC America.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Two and a Half Men/The Big Bang Theory (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); America's Next Top Model (CW); Wife Swap (ABC); American Idol (FOX)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS);
Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC); One Tree Hill (CW); Supernanny (ABC); Moment of Truth (FOX)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Law & Order (NBC); Cashmere Mafia (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: America's Next Top Model.

No, it's not the start of the new series (damn!), but the first of two specials entitled "Exposed," in which the audience gets to relive "favorite moments" from the series. Like maybe when Jael made a fool of herself and jumped in the pool at Benny Medina's party. Good times.

10 pm: Project Runway on Bravo.

On tonight's episode ("Raw Talent"), the designers get a clue about a mysterious field trip behind a closed door and are tasked with creating outfits inspired by "wrestling divas." Uh-uh. Meanwhile, Sweet P and Christian arm-wrestle, Chris looks baffled, and Michael Kors "feels like the Pope at a sex club."


Susania said…
Hurrah! Someone else has discovered Mitchell and Webb! I think they're the Fry and Laurie of their generation. I highly recommend their radio shows, available on iTunes - "That Mitchell and Webb Sound," and "That Mitchell and Webb Situation." Lots of sketches on YouTube as well!
*Such* a funny show. No one does comedy like the Brits!!

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