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Old 24-05-2013, 06:58
frightlever
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Is this on anyone's radar yet? It's an HBO show from Christopher Guest (of Spinal Tap etc fame), starring Chris O'Dowd with Nina Conti (and Monkey).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhIcZOj-12o

It's up to the second episode so far but I couldn't find any chat about it.

Should be showing on the BBC soon as well, as it's a co-production with HBO, but I can't find an air date.
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Old 08-06-2013, 09:47
Kromm
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You're welcome, UK. Welcome to the wonderful world of Christopher Guest!

The kind of half-scripted half-improv stuff he does is going to seem odd to a British audience I think, then again many have probably seen his movies. You can definitely, if you pay close attention, see the improv breaks in this show, but they've been shored up very well (and often supported by post-production stuff, like fake old photographs inserted into the show).

Michael McKean is my favorite part. He kind of breaks the assumption that Americans can't adequately play Brits (which he did in a much more over the top way than here, of course, in Spinal Tap, but Keith Chadwick is both quite believable and hilarious).

The monkey probably breaks the 4th wall a bit, because I know that ventriloquist does the exact same act outside the show. Its probably playing better to American audiences though, since the US is totally unfamiliar with her.
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Old 08-06-2013, 10:04
theonlyweeman
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You're welcome, UK. Welcome to the wonderful world of Christopher Guest!

The kind of half-scripted half-improv stuff he does is going to seem odd to a British audience I think, then again many have probably seen his movies. You can definitely, if you pay close attention, see the improv breaks in this show, but they've been shored up very well (and often supported by post-production stuff, like fake old photographs inserted into the show).

Michael McKean is my favorite part. He kind of breaks the assumption that Americans can't adequately play Brits (which he did in a much more over the top way than here, of course, in Spinal Tap, but Keith Chadwick is both quite believable and hilarious).

The monkey probably breaks the 4th wall a bit, because I know that ventriloquist does the exact same act outside the show. Its probably playing better to American audiences though, since the US is totally unfamiliar with her.
Are you aware that Christopher Guest is English, and the show is a co-production between HBO and the BBC?

I doubt we'll have a problem, Spinal Tap is beloved in the UK, the iPlayer even has a volume switch that goes up to 11....

I haven't seen any of Michael McKean's performance, but I'd be surprised if he does actual British rather than the American idea of British...
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Old 08-06-2013, 13:17
Kromm
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Are you aware that Christopher Guest is English, and the show is a co-production between HBO and the BBC?

I doubt we'll have a problem, Spinal Tap is beloved in the UK, the iPlayer even has a volume switch that goes up to 11....

I haven't seen any of Michael McKean's performance, but I'd be surprised if he does actual British rather than the American idea of British...
No, actually he's a dual citizen, who's rarely to never lived in the UK, was born in the US, grew up and was educated in the US, married an American, had his kids in the US, and has worked his entire career in the US. That was kind of the point of the comment--the JOKE--he's been crafted and handed back.

His style of comedy is basically borrowed from the Second City comedy troupe (which is basically split between Canadians and Americans), although he himself was never a member I believe. But most of his collaborators have been. I know improv isn't totally unknown in the UK, but even "Who's Line Is It Anyway" kind of propped itself up with Canadians and Americans for that very reason.

I haven't seen any of Michael McKean's performance, but I'd be surprised if he does actual British rather than the American idea of British...
As you've pointed out, Guest has the background to make sure that doesn't happen. McKean knows what he's doing here--the key is that its subtle. He's not doing David St. Hubbins.
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Old 08-06-2013, 13:27
theonlyweeman
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No, actually he's a dual citizen, who's rarely to never lived in the UK, was born in the US, grew up and was educated in the US, married an American, had his kids in the US, and has worked his entire career in the US. That was kind of the point of the comment--the JOKE--he's been crafted and handed back.

His style of comedy is basically borrowed from the Second City comedy troupe (which is basically split between Canadians and Americans), although he himself was never a member I believe. But most of his collaborators have been. I know improv isn't totally unknown in the UK, but even "Who's Line Is It Anyway" kind of propped itself up with Canadians and Americans for that very reason.


As you've pointed out, Guest has the background to make sure that doesn't happen. McKean knows what he's doing here--the key is that its subtle. He's not doing David St. Hubbins.
He was born in England, so English American would presumably be the correct term.

You've just said he spent his entire life in America, either he has the English background or he doesn't
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Old 08-06-2013, 13:32
Kromm
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He was born in England, so English American would presumably be the correct term.

You've just said he spent his entire life in America, either he has the English background or he doesn't
He was born in New York City.

He's a dual citizen by virtue of his father being an English diplomat (married to an American). I'm not saying he's never been to England, he has. He in fact is an English peer. He just doesn't live in the UK much.
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Old 08-06-2013, 14:10
theonlyweeman
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He was born in New York City.

He's a dual citizen by virtue of his father being an English diplomat (married to an American). I'm not saying he's never been to England, he has. He in fact is an English peer. He just doesn't live in the UK much.
I just lost faith in the portrayal of the English. Some (but not all) Americans seem to think we're all upper class or cockney geezers. For some reason that seems to be the only portrayal of English people in American media...

Maybe his English background will make it more realistic, I'm going to be cynical and assume it won't, I'll still be watching it on BBC Two though...
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Old 10-07-2013, 16:16
Soap Villain
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Aside from this thread, the show seems to have totally gone under the radar here!

The serion/seasis has just finished in America, I've seen them all and enjoyed them all.

I have absolutely no idea how this has been received in America, the only stuff about it I've read is the reviews on IGN, who liked it, but it never really got any comments.. which would indicate nobody actually watched it.


I'm a little miffed that it got shown 'over there' before 'over here' given that the whole thing starts in the England and finishes in America.

I will be watching it all again when 'we' finally show it. Nina Conti is rather excellent in it, though I'd struggle to pick out a bad performance from anyone really.
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Old 10-07-2013, 16:32
MoreTears
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I'm a little miffed that it got shown 'over there' before 'over here' given that the whole thing starts in the England and finishes in America.
Since it is an HBO/BBC co-production, it is at least as much an Americans show as a British one. I think the way these co-pros work is that the partner that kicked in the most money gets to show it first.
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Old 10-07-2013, 16:52
Soap Villain
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Fair point and most likely true.

It's just that having watched it all I feel it starts off with a lot of references and jokes that would make more sense to a UK audience.

I can imagine (and it might be just that, my imagination) that a lot of US viewers saw the first couple of episodes and didn't follow through with it up to the America-based episodes, whereas it would possibly have had a stronger initial positive reaction by gaining a reputation here and then being shown in America with reputation intact - as it is, I almost expect it to be cancelled after one season due to lack of US interest!
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Old 10-07-2013, 16:53
theonlyweeman
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Since it is an HBO/BBC co-production, it is at least as much an Americans show as a British one. I think the way these co-pros work is that the partner that kicked in the most money gets to show it first.
I imagine it's more to do with when schedules become available, though shows produced by British companies tend to air here first and American companies' shows tend to air there first.

Life's Too Short - Backlash/Blink Films (BBC first)
Episodes - Hat Trick (S1: Showtime first, S2: BBC first)
The White Queen - Company Pictures (BBC first)
Family Tree - Lucky Giant/NBCUniversal (HBO first)
The Girl - Wall to Wall/Moonlighting/Warner Bros. (HBO first)
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Old 10-07-2013, 17:02
MoreTears
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I imagine it's more to do with when schedules become available, though shows produced by British companies tend to air here first and American companies' shows tend to air there first.

Life's Too Short - Backlash/Blink Films (BBC first)
Episodes - Hat Trick (S1: Showtime first, S2: BBC first)
The White Queen - Company Pictures (BBC first)
Family Tree - Lucky Giant/NBCUniversal (HBO first)
The Girl - Wall to Wall/Moonlighting/Warner Bros. (HBO first)
In the case of Torchwood: Miracle Day, when British fans objected to Starz airing the episodes before the BBC, I believe it was said that because Starz paid more than 50% of the budget they got to be the first to air the episodes. And I think it was still a British company making Torchwood at that time. And Episodes is a weird case, isn't it? One season it is America first, next season it is the UK. I am already keen to see which country airs first in 2014. If is the US, I wonder if that could mean an agreement was made to alternate being first to air each season.
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Old 16-07-2013, 23:34
theonlyweeman
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Just seen the first episode on BBC Two. Not overwhelmed, I laughed a couple of times but I couldn't tell whether that was because it was funny or because I wanted it to be funny. I'm definitely giving it another try next week though...
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Old 16-07-2013, 23:43
mike65
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Wondered where the thread for this was, someone will probably start one on the proper forum

Kinda liked it, a bit goofy but clever enough to keep me watching, as with Top of the Lake it seems to be getting harder and harder to decide where a programme is "from". Is this American or British? Does it matter?
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Old 16-07-2013, 23:49
theonlyweeman
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Wondered where the thread for this was, someone will probably start one on the proper forum

Kinda liked it, a bit goofy but clever enough to keep me watching, as with Top of the Lake it seems to be getting harder and harder to decide where a programme is "from". Is this American or British? Does it matter?
Top of the Lake: British American (BBCW's UKTV/BBC2/Sundance)
Family Tree: British American (BBC2/HBO/NBCUni)

It makes no difference, but co-productions normally go in TV Shows: UK. This thread pre-existed the show's broadcast, leading to debate over whether Chris Guest was English or American and who should be thanking who for his existence...
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Old 16-07-2013, 23:54
jeff_vader
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Like Guest's improv films so have enjoyed this series so far. If you don't like those then I doubt this will convert anyone. Love Nina Conti & Monkey anyway, so that was a big plus . Standout performance is Dowd's chavvy best friend - very funny.

Though missing Parker Posey and Catherine O'Hara .
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Old 17-07-2013, 01:20
ClarkF1
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I liked it...was kinda quirky.

The only thing I didn't like was the monkey. It's as if they cast her but she refused to do it without a puppet.
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Old 17-07-2013, 07:27
Kromm
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I liked it...was kinda quirky.

The only thing I didn't like was the monkey. It's as if they cast her but she refused to do it without a puppet.
Not sure why anyone would employ her WITHOUT the puppet. She's not really got much to do without it.
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Old 17-07-2013, 11:23
jsmith99
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Like Guest's improv films so have enjoyed this series so far. If you don't like those then I doubt this will convert anyone. ................

Though missing Parker Posey and Catherine O'Hara .
I enjoyed "Best in Show", and watch it every time it's on TV. though I've never seen 'spinal tap' - I assume these are the films you mean.

However, I found this show totally unfunny. I realise it was trying to be funny, in a quirky sort of way, but to me it didn't succeed.

Presumably if you know who parker posey and catherine o'hara are, then you belong in some inner circle of cognoscenti?
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Old 17-07-2013, 11:43
LostFool
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It was...errr... interesting. Not laugh out loud funny but quirky. I'll be giving it another chance next week as I suspect that it will be a slow burner.

Personally, I adore Nina Conti with or without monkey. She has done some work without it (an early episode of Black Books) but it's presence doesn't really bother me.
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Old 17-07-2013, 11:58
theonlyweeman
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I liked it...was kinda quirky.

The only thing I didn't like was the monkey. It's as if they cast her but she refused to do it without a puppet.
Agreed, it just seemed too stupid and out of place for me. The actress was fine, but ditch the bloody monkey.

Also, what was that "Eastern European Racial Stereotype" stepmum about? It wasn't funny, and I'm 80% certain it's racist...
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Old 17-07-2013, 12:05
Stormageddon
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Take my word for it, the monkey will be very funny. I worked on this series and there's a cracker of a scene coming up later at at a Greek wedding. Brilliantly improvised by the actress and Monkey. Comedy of awkward embarassment at it's best. Well, the crew thought it was very funny, any way. Maybe you had to be there...
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Old 17-07-2013, 17:18
degsyhufc
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Well I watched it and was going to comment but after the first reply in the thread I don't think i'll bother.
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Old 18-07-2013, 01:15
jeff_vader
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I enjoyed "Best in Show", and watch it every time it's on TV. though I've never seen 'spinal tap' - I assume these are the films you mean.

However, I found this show totally unfunny. I realise it was trying to be funny, in a quirky sort of way, but to me it didn't succeed.

Presumably if you know who parker posey and catherine o'hara are, then you belong in some inner circle of cognoscenti?
. Not really. They've been in most of Guest's films - part of his rep/ensemble company, you could say - and was hoping they might be in this too (like McKean and Willard). Maybe they'll pop up later? Or weren't available. I'm up to ep 8 and thought the monkey wedding scene was brill. But yes, it's not split-your-sides-funny. Just sly gentle character comedy.
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Old 18-07-2013, 11:32
jsmith99
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. Not really. They've been in most of Guest's films - part of his rep/ensemble company, you could say - and was hoping they might be in this too (like McKean and Willard). Maybe they'll pop up later? Or weren't available. I'm up to ep 8 and thought the monkey wedding scene was brill. But yes, it's not split-your-sides-funny. Just sly gentle character comedy.
But why should TV viewers in general have heard of them?

And isn't "sly gentle humour" usually about characters who could be real people? Like Grandad in 'Only Fools and Horses'"
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