Monday, September 04, 2006

"It's hard to remember there was a time when politicians were not interviewed by a anthropomorphic puppet."

Time Trumpet is a BBC series that will quite probably never join the bizarre smorgasbord of vaguely US-accessible British television that the Beeb airs on its American channel. It's far too heavily grounded in obscure British pop culture, it's weird and lo-fi, and there's a sketch where several talking heads describe a sequence of arcing colors for three straight minutes. Of course, I'll probably be proven wrong and HBO will be remaking the show for an American audience within the year.

All that considered, I've still selected a short analysis of Time Trumpet for my debut post on this fine blog, with the hope that anyone whose interest is mildly piqued will investigate YouTube for evidence of its hilarity.

The show is basically a nonsensical version of I Love the 80s where celebrities of the past and other commentators wax lyrical about the news and culture of yesteryear. Except Time Trumpet is set in 2031, and the assembled talking heads are recollecting our near future. It's a brilliant conceit that allows for a sharp, wry and absurd look at the increasing bizarreness of Britain's cultural and political arenas. Just as the show's creator Armando Iannucci (one of the resident geniuses of comedy in England who was recently responsible for The Thick of It) hijacks the news program in The Day Today and the talk show in Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge, he injects his brand of surreal nonsense into a setting that is plausibly and recognizably factual to the viewer, while playing gleefully fast and loose with truth. See the sketch below, concerning the supposed fued between PM Tony Blair and his deputy Gordon Brown:

Time Trumpet makes no bones about its obviously manipulated footage and the fact that the actors playing elderly versions of personalities such as Tom Cruise, David Beckham and Bob Geldof aren't exactly lookalikes. Despite the ridiculousness of it all, Iannucci can still land punches with the best of them, such as the sketches below where he brilliantly undercuts Conservative Party leader David Cameron's infuriating "new, young, hip" image by replacing an interviewer with a donkey:

Or this clip, comparing the so-called "Cameron revolution" with Blair's New Labor:

Time Trumpet isn't quite up there with the brilliance of Iannucci's top creations and it may go the way of some of his other more forgotten projects (into relative obscurity) but that's all the more reason to try and catch it now while it's still somewhat hot. After all, what better way to look cool than to watch obscure British comedy TV? I could have written about The Thick of It, but everyone's got BBC America these days. And as good as that may be, is there anything on BBC America that salutes "the homliest rape-based theme tune ever"?


Todd VanDerWerff said...

I want to see the arcing colors!

Todd VanDerWerff said...

If you don't think something like this could be Americanized for Comedy Central, then you are a damn fool.

David Sims said...

Oh, it absolutely could be Americanized. But THIS show is never going anywhere. And if you want to see colors, youtube is your friend. People have assembled long files full of clips for you to enjoy.

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