This Week’s TV Highlights: Community, The Matt Lucas Awards, Derek, Long Lost Family, Would I Lie to You?, Have I Got News For You, Not Going Out
A bunch of new and returning comedy shows lead the way as we look at next week’s TV highlights.
Community (Sony Entertainment Television, Tues, 10:30pm)
I don’t think many readers would’ve caught Community Series One when it aired of Freeview channel Viva hopefully it will get more of a following on digital channel Sony Entertainment Television (Channel 157). The brilliant off-the-wall American sitcom is set in Greendale Community College and follows a group of students who all become friends after they all become part of the same study group. The cast includes star of E!’s The Soup Joel McHale as manipulative former lawyer Jeff, The Hangover’s Ken Jeong as teacher turned student Ben Chang and comedy legend Chevy Chase as moist towel magnate Piers. What makes Community so great is the whacky plot strands whether it be the Claymation Christmas special, a Dungeons and Dragons special or a two-part season finale based around a paintball tournament the show does have a humour all of its own. I would say if you are a fan of either 30 Rock or Arrested Development then Community is definitely for you but don’t worry if you missed Season One as it won’t take long to settle in at Greendale and once you’re there you’ll never want to leave.
The Matt Lucas Awards (BBC1, Tues, 10:35pm)
For most people Matt Lucas is best associated with a cavalcade of grotesque characters such as Vicky Pollard and Daffyd Thomas but in his new show he wanted to get away from character-driven comedy to be himself. The Matt Lucas Awards is partly based on his Radio 2 show And The Winner Is in which awards are given in unusual categories such as Smuggest Nation of People. On Paper The Matt Lucas Awards sounds like a panel show however there are sitcom elements as there is a mock-up of Matt’s flat complete with his own mother Diana and there are also hints of a chat show as Matt has his own in-house band fronted by David Arnold. There’s no denying Lucas is an intriguing presence and there are a some very entertaining guests including Jason Manford and Graeme Garden so hopefully this will be a memorable show rather than just another panel show.
Long Lost Family (ITV1, Thurs, 9pm)
The only non-comedy on the list, unless you’ve got a very depraved sense of humour, the programme in which people try to hunt down their long-lost relatives is back for a second series. Combining elements of Who Do You Think You Are? and Surprise Surprise this programme sees Nicky Campbell trying to track down parents of adopted children then Davina McCall swoops in to reunite them. In this first episode the pair try and help Stella to track down Maxine the daughter she gave up fifty years ago when she could no longer look after her on her own. In addition to this Mark tries to find the mother who gave him up after forty years so he can find out exactly why she did it. Long Lost Family isn’t an exploitative series instead it sets out to do its best to help those involve build bridges and reunite lost loved ones. For some people this is certainly a series that you’ll need a box of tissues close to you just in case you feel the tears start to pour.
Derek (C4, Thurs, 10pm)
Following the critically panned Life’s Too Short it seems that Ricky Gervais is trying something new with a tender comedy-drama about Derek Noakes a sad man who works in a retirement home. Gervais’ whipping boy Karl Pilkington co-stars here as Derek’s co-worker and only friend Dougie. From the trailers it seems that Derek is a lot more low-key than Gervais’ most recent series as at times this veers to drama rather than comedy exploring characters that are often ostracised by society with Derek being obsessed by autograph hunting. For now Derek is only a one-off affair however I’m guessing if the ratings and reviews are mainly positive Channel 4 will let Gervais role this out into a full series.
Would I Lie To You?, Have I Got News For You, Not Going Out (BBC1, Fri, 8:30pm onwards)
BBC1 revives its Friday night comedy line-up with three of its strongest shows being presented back to back, before Twenty Twelve airs on BBC2 at 10, you’re especially in luck if you’re a Lee Mack. Mack is up first along with David Mitchell and Rob Brydon for a new series of hyper of Would I Lie to You? which this week includes guests such as Chris Tarrant and Alexander Armstrong. For me the best parts of WILTY are definitely those involving the inter-play between Mitchell and Mack as they try to unravel the lies that each are telling. Following this is the original panel show Have I Got News For You now in its 22nd year it is as fresh as it was when it started but that’s mainly due to the fact that politicians will keep on doing stupid things. Stephen Magnan is this week’s guest host with the panellists being columnist Grace Dent and comic Miles Jupp but again this is all about the captains as we all know it’s the Hislop and Merton show.
Finishing things off is the return of Not Going Out which is written by and starring Lee Mack alongside his old buddy Tim Vine. What I love about Not Going Out is its old-fashioned feel concentrating more on jokes than story-telling with lots of smut and word-play along the way. In the opening episode of the fifth series straight-laced Tim joins a band with his sister Lucy then falling for the lead guitarist so a jealous Lee also decides to rock out. A good way to end a triple bill of comedy which will have you chuckling throughout its 90 minutes.
What are you looking forward to watching on the box this week? Leave a comment below.