Friday, August 8, 2008

The Thick of It

One of my favorite television discoveries last year was the BBC 4 political satire The Thick of It. I was watching the 2005 series at the time, but today found a site that streams the December 2007 hour long special. I can't think of a better way to spend a cranky afternoon than watching this, which is the funniest thing I've seen in ages, besting even the very strong series. One of the main characters does not return (apparently the actor is up on kiddie porn charges) so the special spends more time with the opposition party. But Malcolm Tucker is back, the 10 Downing Street 'enforcer', who is rumoured to be based on Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's spokesperson. He is easily the most unsympathetically vile character on television. The show hires a 'swearing consultant' to ensure his foul language is as accurate and colourful as possible.

Created by Armando Iannucci, who also produced the mock-news shows The Day Today and Time Trumpet, as well as Knowing Me and Knowing You and I'm Alan Partridge, the show is described as Yes, Minister meets Larry Sanders. Imagine The West Wing, if it were:

a) funny
b) good
c) not a vehicle to trumpet the writers' Hollywood version of Liberalism (Republicans initially dubbed it the 'Left Wing', but after 9/11 the producers reportedly tried to be more balanced, which I suspect made it even worse).

An attempted American version of The Thick of It, by Christopher Guest and Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz, failed to materialize. A pilot was shot for ABC but was not picked up and has not aired. Earlier this summer the BBC announced a feature length spin off was going into production, with cast members from the show augmented with James Gandolfini and long time Iannucci collaborator Steve Coogan.

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