This was the first time I’d watched Kingdom and I have to say, I won’t be watching it again. Comedically speaking, it doesn’t seem to know where it’s at; is it highbrow? Is it slapstick? No, it’s neither. Rather, it falls through the cracks somewhere inbetween and while it’s mildly amusing, it’s rather too reliant on obvious comedy.
Take for instance when the sci-fi obsessed Terry explained the intricacies of the crop circles that had been discovered in Geraldine’s (Sandi Toksvig) field; he realised they combined all sorts of elements from physics and maths but then – this clearly intelligent man – didn’t recognise that Fry as Kingdom was quoting from Shakespeare when he said, “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio” and Terry predictably replied, “It’s Terry Mr Kingdom”
And really, the majority of the programme went on in a similar vein… Lyle falling down every few minutes, the baby getting lost all the time, the chaos of Kingdom’s office and personal life which last night included his getting unwittingly stoned on magic mushrooms. It’s just too trite, which is unfortunate considering the somewhat stellar cast – stellar by TV standards anyway – which includes Hermione Norris, Celia Imrie and John Thomson as well as Fry in the lead and title role. Apropos of the cast, I could’ve sworn I’d seen Graham Norton playing the part of one of Beatrice’s pub quiz team but if it was him, he wasn’t listed on the credits.
Anyway, the storyline last night centred mainly around the appearance of the aforementioned crop circles and Terry’s attempts to stop Geraldine from harvesting her wheat because he was convinced the circles had been made by aliens. He was also convinced that he was being “contacted” by aliens via his radio but it turned out to be locals having some radio fun with the hapless Terry and trying to sabotage him in the pub quiz…
It was during the discovery of the locals beaming messages to Terry that THE only laugh out loud moment came; Kingdom was giving them a telling off and suggesting they could “Push him [Terry] over the edge” with their behaviour. Lyle concurred and said, “He could be in the church tower with a copy of Catcher in the Rye and a sniper rifle before you know it.” Other than that, at best, the script raised an occasional smile.
It transpired that Terry’s son Dan had made the crop circles by way of protest about the fact that he and his father never talk about his mum who’d died 8 years ago to the day. So, after some midnight counselling in the field, Kingdom reunited son and father and generally saved the day.
I guess this programme might be described as ‘gentle comedy’; so gentle there’s no danger of damaging your ribs laughing. It was amiable and plod along but if you want a raucous good laugh, Kingdom isn’t going to provide it.