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Fantastically Absurd: An Advance Review of Season Three of BBC America's "That Mitchell and Webb Look"

Sir Digby Chicken Caesar. Dr. Death. The Lazy Writers. Those guys who look like Mitchell and Webb but are, um, far more conceited.

These are but a few of the memorable characters created by David Mitchell and Robert Webb (Peep Show) on their gleefully subversive sketch comedy series, That Mitchell and Webb Look, which finally returns to BBC America after a far too long absence.

As a longtime viewer and Numberwang-obsessive, I've long waited for BBC America to bring this winning series back to the airwaves in America and my high anticipation was well rewarded when I sat down last night to watch the first three episodes of Season Three of That Mitchell and Webb Look, supplied by the network for review.

Along with some much beloved returning sketches including the snooker commentators as well as the aforementioned Sir Digby Chicken Caesar and Ginger and the Lazy Writers, Mitchell and Webb have cooked up some new creations in the mad lab in which they write (or, quite possibly, David Mitchell's bedroom).

Putting aside the nightmarishly absurdist numbers-based quiz show madness from earlier seasons (i.e. Numberwang), the duo offer up a post-apocalyptic game show called The Quiz Broadcast, in which contestants attempt to answer questions while viewers at home are told in no uncertain terms to "remain indoors." It's only natural that the world has undergone a horrific incident called "The Event" that has scarred the psyches of everyone who has survived and causes recurrent nightmares, even in waking. Contestants often go mad or face sudden death while playing. (Yes, seriously.)

Then there's Poirot-y, a spoof of Agatha Christie's Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, famously played by David Suchet in the long-running ITV/PBS series of mysteries Poirot. Here, Mitchell plays Poirot-y, whose deductive skills are often limited to waiting for a suspect to begin to speak in "the evil voice," a tell-tale sign of malevolence that's often accompanied by better hair, makeup, and a cigarette being smoked from an evil cigarette holder.

Webb plays period mad scientist Dr. Death, whose devices seem tailor-made for military applications but who wishes them to be used for the good of mankind and is only too willing to destroy them to prevent the president of the United States (Mitchell) from allowing them to kill. Including the Giant Death Ray (a gargantuan bar code scanner able to tell the price of a can of cling peaches) to a huge robotic scorpion that fires "helpful" bullets and is meant to work behind the counter of a convenience store.

One-off sketches include Episode Three's hilarious spoof of Jane Austen's seminal "Pride and Prejudice" (which involves a conga line, Mr. Darcy, and freestyle disco dancing), a method for finding lost objects called Jan Hankl's Flank Pat™, Santa's horrifically bad mannered brother, a dog cannon doorbell-replacement, and Agent Suave, a James Bond-wannabe whose superspy abilities include guessing the weight of fruitcakes.

All this and recurring mutton-chopped superhero Captain Todger (Webb), who must be seen to be believed. (It helps if you know just what a todger is in British colloquial slang.)

Ultimately, That Mitchell and Webb Look is a rare beast: a sketch comedy series where every sketch is, well, great, offering a balance of intellectual humor, gross-out comedy, and scathing satire as well as some of the most deliciously absurd sketches ever to grace the small screen. You'd be well advised to tune in if you haven't been exposed to the wit and flair of Mitchell and Webb. Just remember, whatever you do, remain indoors.

That Mitchell and Webb Look returns to BBC America on April 7th at 9:30 pm ET/PT.


AskRachel said…
These guys are brilliant. I love Peep Show and their sketch comedy. Frankly, I would watch them read a phone book as I'm sure they would find a way to make it hilarious.
Xenaclone said…
If you can persuade BBC America to get the Armstrong and Miller Show, you will probably find yourself similarly delighted and amused.

Their 'RAF WWII officers talking jive' is rib-achingly funny, as are the very NSFW Jane Austen dances.

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