I'll try just about any British comedy that makes its way across the
pond. That's because a higher percentage of them are funny when compared
to what's shown on prime time TV in America. Of course, a good part
of the reason for that is the fact that lousy series generally don't get
shown or released here in region one but for whatever the reason many British
comedies make me laugh. Now a new sketch comedy series, Manstrokewoman,
has made the leap from England to the US and it is hands-down the funniest
skit comedy show that I've seen since Monty Python and the first
seasons of SNL. The show was created by producer Ash Atalla
who was behind the British version of The Office, and its brilliant.
This creative and unique show is outrageously funny and has several belly
laughs in each episode. The only major problem is that there are
only six episodes in this first season.
Manstrokewoman consists of six members who perform all of the
parts in the show: Amanda Abbington, Ben Crompton, Daisy Haggard,
Meredith MacNeill, Nicholas Burns and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Spaced).
They have created a set of reoccurring characters that are mixed with one-shot
sketches that make for a hilarious half an hour show.
One of my favorite bits involved a guy who runs into a girl who dumped
him years ago. They start to chat and catch up. She's married
now and he's...the King of Spain. Through some odd family tree thing,
he's become the king of a major European country, and by all accounts he's
a great ruler. The look on her face as she downs her drink after
he leaves is priceless.
Then there's the woman who, wearing some outrageous bit of clothing,
asks her husband how she looks. Having been in a similar (though
not so pronounced) situation it's easy to sympathize with the poor man
as he gently and ever-so-tactfully tries to tell her that her earrings
are as large as chandeliers.
I also loved the bit with the man (Nick Frost) who doesn't understand
that his girlfriend is trying to break up with him. "It's over!"
"Ahh, you're such a kidder." She gets more and more frazzled as time
goes on until she's at her wit's end and he's blissfully ignorant.
Some of these skits are a bit raunchy or politically incorrect.
A good example of that is the emergency room skit in the final episode
on the disc. When a female accident patient's heart stops, the doctor
declares that he's going to try an experimental new procedure: "I'm
going to cum on her tits." They remove her shirt (leaving the bra
on) and the doctor climbs in an ejaculates (off camera) on the woman.
Another rather funny but possibly objectionably part is the reoccurring
sketch of a man with his son Josh. In one of these skits viewers
see the man and a small cross in front of a tiny grave. He's explaining
to Josh how nothing lives forever and that Whiskers was an old cat.
His wife walks up behind him and asks "Where's Josh?" The camera
pulls back to show the man kneeling besides a dead cat. End of skit.
That is one of the show's strongest points; the skits are very short.
They get to the funny bit and then move on. They don't try to milk
a joke for more than it's worth, nor do they spend a lot of time on the
set up for the gag. It's all short and sweet.
Watching these six shows all in one sitting robs the show of some of
the fun that it would have had watching it on a weekly basis. A couple
of the reoccurring characters get a bit old by the end of the run, which
might not have happened if the shows were spaced out a bit more.
The crying man was hilarious the first couple of times. He starts
sobbing as his girlfriend breaks up with him and she tries to understand
what he's saying. Unfortunately she can't quite make out his words.
"You're going to attack me with a robot army?" After the first few
times they did this it got old though.
All six episodes that made up the first season are presented on a single
sided DVD which comes in a standard keepcase.
The stereo soundtrack is free of audio defects and generally clear.
It is a bit hard to understand the dialog at times because of the accents
and other times the voices are mixed a little low. Luckily for those
times there are subtitles in English.
The 1.78:1 anamorphically enhanced image is very solid. The picture
is very pleasing overall. The colors are fine and the level of detail
is great. On the digital side, things were also fine. There
was a little aliasing but blocking and other common defects were absent.
A nice looking disc.
There's fair amount of extras included on this set. All six episodes
have a commentary track, though these weren't really all that engaging.
The various actors (all appear on different episodes except Meredith MacNeil
who was in Canada at the time) reminisce about the filming, but they really
don't know what to say and there are some really long gaps in the tracks.
They talk about seeing a couple having sex by the side of the road while
driving to a location for example, and try to recall what type of car they
were in and who was on top. Okay...
How to Make Manstrokewoman is a 16 minute behind the scenes featurette
that was amusing but not as interesting as it could have been. There wasn't
any narration or much structure, just a camera watching the cast and crew
filming scenes for the show. The Music of Manstrokewoman has
a text biography of the band that does the theme music as well as a track
off of their upcoming album. There's also biographies of the actors.
After these six shows were finished, I was really disappointed that
there weren't more episodes. This is a very funny show, and I laughed
several times in every show which is a rare thing. A top notch show
that fans of British comedy should be sure to check out. Highly