You, Me and the Apocalypse: 24 Hours to Go – And Now a Word From Our Sponsor (Review)

You Me and the Apocalypse is a black comedy. Up to this point the one-off series (in the UK at any rate) has focussed on the comedy with the darker elements either glossed over or tinged with humor. In 24 Hours to Go It is as though the show is taking a break from the humor and allowing a word from the sponsor; death.

 You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1

You Me and the Apocalypse is a black comedy. Up to this point the one-off series (in the UK at any rate) has focussed on the comedy with the darker elements either glossed over or tinged with humor. In 24 Hours to Go It is as though the show is taking a break from the humor and allowing a word from the sponsor; death.

Overall the episode was fairly grim with a look at how the world would react at the apocalypse.  Jude’s murder, obviously done by Father Christophe at the orders of the Cardinal, is called a suicide and the clergy cannot wait to put him in the ground at Rome. Celine takes the body back to Slough so Jude can be buried near his family.

Sutton learns of Jamie and Ariel blackmails his grandmother. Everyone begins the episode in celebration believing that the Saviour program worked.  General Gaines shoots the president the moment they arrive at the Genesis bunker and allows the poppet the US leader  brought in place of the first lady to escape.

Rhonda has been sentenced to death and amazingly, Leanne (Megan Mullally) is brought in and placed in the cell next to the librarian. The white supremacist provides the comedic highlight of this more somber episode as the guards have her cuffed up like Hannibal Lector.  (She later wolfs down her last meal telling the guard that she is going to “poop like you’ve never seen” when she dies.) 

General Gaines tells the world that Saviour failed and that he will die with them.

Celebrations turn to hysteria and panic, except in the Slough pub where Jude’s wake is held. This is England and the group decide to have a knees-up to see out the end of the world. Celine goes along with this.

Later, after imbibing too many shots, Celine heads to the loo (restroom) to throw up. There she sees God (June Whitfield)  who tells her that Jude is in heaven and that he says hello. God also reveals that she still needs Celine and that she is:

“part of my plan. Always have been and always will be.”

Sidenote: It is fitting that June Whitfield was chosen to be God, the woman is an institution in England.  June has been a household name since 1953, where she became known for working on radio.  American audiences may not “get it” but this reviewer was excited to see the performer and (to be honest) June’s portrayal brought a  little tear.

Ariel kidnaps Jamie right after he meets Sutton (Diana Rigg) and gets the invite to her “family” bunker.  The evil twin puts Jamie in his bank vault and then impersonates his good twin to take Layla and Frankie to the bunker and leave Jamie to die.

Jamie’s mum (played so wonderfully by another English treasure Pauline Quirke) is completely fooled by Ariel, as is Dave (her new fiancee) and all three indulge in a group hug while Ariel cringes.

Spike shames Scotty and Gaines into rescuing Rhonda.  Gaines bullies his way onto the military base where she is being held.  The general provides another comic moment when he threatens to go Mount Vesuvius all over a prison guard:

“Is that what you want? You want me to erupt and spray my hold molten lava upon you? Is that what you really want? To be my Pompeii?”

(Easily the most sexual threat in the history of television.)

He succeeds in getting Scotty’s sister out but she then demands the release of Leanne. The guard gets suspicious and pulls his gun, Scotty leaps in front of his spouse and is shot. Gaines kills the guard and Leanne gets out.

This leads to a running gun battle between the remaining military and the rescue team, which now has a wounded Scott,   along with Rhonda and Leanne. Rhonda’s friend is  pretty formidable taking out soldiers while still cuffed and she is last seen disappearing around a corner in her Hannibal Lector chains.

Celine goes back to the church and is once more Sister Celine. She tells Jude that soon she will be with him.

You, Me and the Apocalypse has saved its darker moments for near the end. This penultimate episode was less about the laughs, although the black humor is still there, and more about bringing everyone together for the end.

You, Me and the Apocalypse - Season 1
Layla and Jamie

The death of Jude is still a shocker and so too is the possible death of Jamie in that bank vault. Although it appears that Jamie will survive and it is him doing the narration at the start of each episode.

We know that he makes it out of the vault because of his attire while watching the end of the world “on telly.” Pink shorts and a blue vest (t-shirt) is what our narrator is wearing, the same clothes Jamie  had on in the vault.

The last episode will show who made it to the bunker and who did not. There have been teasing little glimpses through out the series. We’ve seen Rhonda, Frankie and Gaines as well as Jamie, but there are still others who have not been seen.

You, Me and the Apocalypse suffered from a loss of viewers in the UK where it originally aired and one wonders it that was down to Jude Laws’ character being killed off.  It could well be that the the finale will carry on with the grim tone and lose most of its comic flavor which could well be the real reason the show was not brought back.

The season finale airs next Thursday on NBC.

 

The Inbetweeners to be Remade in US. Really??

The Inbetweeners title card image, also used a...
The Inbetweeners title card image, also used as the album cover for The Inbetweeners Soundtrack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Inbetweeners is quintessentially English. Like never ending cups of tea and scones with cream and jam or cricket. It specialises in that brand of British humour that is not afraid to poke fun at the English way of life and have a good laugh while doing it.

The show is another of those ‘young adult’ (that’s really spelt teenager) programs that Channel 4 does so well. Their initial success with the teen drama Skins prompted them to make Misfits (as a summer replacement) a science fiction comedy drama of errors which dealt with a group of ‘social outcast’ teens on community service for crimes like stealing pick n mix sweets and fighting in public.

Misfits proved to be as popular as Skins and is now in its third season. What all these programs have in common besides their age specific casts and target demographics, is they are all specifically English. They are written by, about, for an English audience primarily so they focus on either dramatic  or comical issues specific to their country and people.

They all work extremely well, although I will admit that I have never been nor will I ever be a fan of Skins. Call me anal, go ahead it won’t upset me, but a show dedicated to drug taking, sex and the exploits of teenage chavs doesn’t interest me.

Misfits was television comedy/drama gold. The perfect mix of pathos and humour and teen vulnerability. I adored this show right up until the end of series two. Season three started (and finished, with me at any rate) when they had to replace Nathan, played by the immensely talented Robert Sheehan who went on to do more in the film world. It never felt the same after that.

If Misfits was  television gold, then the sitcom The Inbetweeners was platinum. This show which focused on the four socially inadequate lads who were on the eternal search for their Holy Grail of girls, sex, and fun hit the comedic nail firmly on it’s head.

I’m not going to go into great detail about plot or who the main characters are, for that just follow the link  The Inbetweeners and IMDb will give you all the information you need. Or conversely just type the show’s name into the YouTube search bar and you can watch episodes of the show.

What I am going to do is pull my hair and rend my clothes in despair at the show’s most recent development. The Inbetweeners is going rogue and immigrating to the US. To be more exact the show is being re-made for the American market.

I know there is a long standing ‘tradition’ of English sitcoms being remade in it’s American cousin’s image. All in the Family, Three’s Company and Sanford and Son all started their sitcom lives as English comedy television programs. *If you are interested here are the original English titles of the above mentioned programs in order:  Till Death do us Part, Man About the House and Steptoe and Son.*

What all these ‘successful’ remakes had in common was the connecting fact of the US version being completely re-written for it’s intended market. The American public. They took the story lines and ‘Americanised’ them. Changing dialogue and plot devices to fit the ‘new’ audience. It worked extremely well for the television audiences of the 1970’s.

Sadly, recent attempts to repeat these early successes have ended in complete failure. Take for example the Americanisation of Absolutely Fabulous starring Jennifer Saunders, Johanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha and June Whitfield. This un-pc comedy ran from 1994 to 2004 and there is and ‘Ab Fab‘ film slated for 2013. This show was another comedy platinum poster child of what a hysterically funny sitcom should be.

Absolutely Fabulous was bought and transferred state side. It was promptly renamed Ab Fab and just as promptly died. The reason given was that their intended audience just didn’t get it. The rumour? Well, the rumour was that they didn’t rewrite the dialogue or rework the plot devices and the end result of this was a swift and messy death.

Absolutely Fabulous letters - BBC
Absolutely Fabulous letters – BBC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The award laden Skins suffered the same fate as Ab Fab. Audience’s didn’t get it and it crawled away whimpering after just ten episodes. Misfit’s is also slated for remaking and should be out this year.

Now The Inbetweeners is facing the same fate. My daughter and I watched a trailer for the new US version and it is identical to the hysterically funny original. The trailer has American teenagers talking like English teenagers, one even says, “Piss off!” Now the last time I was in the US (last year if you’re interested) US teens did not use that phrase.  The trailer also shows that the program will also be using the same plot devices as the original.

I predict a swift and dirty death for this latest American television conversion. They need to look at the past (in particular the 70’s) and see how it should really be done. The jury is obviously still out for the US Misfit’s, which I am very dubious about. Misfit’s is sort of a bargain basement version of the American show Heroes, so why they want to make it sort of confuses me.

If the show’s American “creators” cannot be bothered to do the US version the courtesy of just changing the dialogue it will fail. Because the dialogue, plots devices and stories are all English right down to the characters sex, girls and fun seeking toes.