Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dee do do do...

Apologies to Bob, who heard all this in the pub the other day...

Lead Balloon. Hmf. It's not that it doesn't make me laugh. It's not that Jack Dee can't act. It's not the washed out colour palette. No, none of those things make me dislike Lead Balloon and its 'creator'. It's just that I wish that Jack Dee would hold his hands up and say it loud - and he could even say it proud - that Lead Balloon owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Curb Your Enthusiasm. But with each and every interview - and since the return of the show and its arrival on BBC2 there have been many - Jack Dee seems to move further and further away from acknowledging that Lead Balloon is an extremely derivative piece of work. Now, there's nothing wrong with being derivative, of course (hell, nothing's original. I thank you messrs Milligan, Palin, Gilliam, Orton, Cook, Rossiter, Nobbs, Adams et al for all that I have taken from you. My words are but a pale imitation of yours). But why can't he just say it? Just once would do. Something along the lines of "Without Curb Your Enthusiasm, Lead Balloon would never have existed". And why haven't interviewers aske him about the obvious influence? Have they been briefed not to ask the question? There are differences - Curb is improvised by a team of extremely talented comic performers around a hefty outline, Lead Balloon's each and every line is unquestionably, precisely scripted by Dee and Pete Sinclair. Rick Spleen's a made up name, Larry David isn't. But the similarities are legion. So much so that it hurts to watch it. LD is an experienced old hand, a master of comedy situations: JD is a callow youth in comparison. I get the sense that Lead Balloon is supposed to be 'ironic' - but there's no irony. It's supposed to be a sit-com - but there's no comedy. It exhudes superiority (actually over the audience, which is an alarming approach) but is woefully inferior and simply, in its efforts to ape without acknowledgement, tries too hard.

Lead Balloon doesn't come anywhere close to the quality of the comedy to be found in Curb, but I'll concede one thing - in terms of the quality of its production values, Lead Balloon wins hands down.

...But Bob, the freaking weirdo, prefers Lead Balloon to Curb. If only he'd agreed with me (because I am the great objective right one) I would have been able to stop the inner turmoil I feel every time I see Jack Dee being interviewed on the telly. Please, Jack, make your show funny and confess from whence it came.

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