25/04/2013 00:55 | By Dan Owen, contributor, MSN TV

10 O'Clock Live 2013: watch for Brooker and Mitchell

TV review: 10 O'Clock Live, Channel 4's series with Charlie Brooker, Jimmy Carr, Lauren Laverne and David Mitchell, returns.


David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker, Lauren Laverne and Jimmy Carr (© David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker, Lauren Laverne and Jimmy Carr. Image. Channel 4)


Summary

Channel 4's 10 O'Clock Live returns. It's the third series of the satirical comedy news show presented by comedian Jimmy Carr, writer/presenter Charlie Brooker, comic actor David Mitchell and presenter Lauren Laverne.

Highlight

I rather enjoyed the debate about the country's rich list between The Apprentice's Katie Hopkins, Dragons' Den's Theo Paphitis, and author Owen Jones, with David Mitchell as chairman. This is partly because it doesn't feel as cursory as the rest of the show, but has substance to it.

Lowlight

The weakest part was an unfunny sketch imagining a musical called The Book of Maggie. Based on the life of Margaret Thatcher, it featured old-fashioned comedian Les Dennis and Big Brother winner Brian Belo.

Full review

It's considered to be the UK's answers to America's The Daily Show; or rather it aspires to be, but falls short of the target.

10 O'Clock Live launched in 2011 to widespread derision, and yet the formula's barely changed in the two years since - beyond the loss of segments like David Mitchell's one-on-one political interviews.

"10 O'Clock Live launched in 2011 to widespread derision"

However, I personally don't think 10 O'Clock Live's that bad when you consider the horrendousness of its forbearers. Who remember's Tonightly with Jason Manford? Now that was painful.

It helps that this show's four presenters are funny people in their respective jobs, although there's a continuing problem with Lauren Laverne; she doesn't really fit.

This premiere didn't patronisingly give her a token segment to herself, it just positioned her as the show's emcee: she's there to read autocue and act as the hub for discussion with the men.

I don't dislike Lauren, but I keep wondering why the producers didn't get someone involved who's more on the wavelength of the comedians she's surrounded by.

It helps that there are two segments almost guaranteed to be worth watching each episode for: one is Charlie Brooker's early slot. He basically gives us a bite-sized version of his Newswipe programme (here tackling US coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings to hilarious effect).

Secondly, the roundtable discussion with David Mitchell as a funnier version of David Dimbleby (in this instance, looking at the pros and cons of a post-Thatcher society driven by a desire to be successful and rich).

Both are entertaining and amusing sections of the show... most of the time. In fact, I sometimes wonder if 10 O'Clock Live wouldn't be improved by installing Brooker as our version of Jon Stewart, with Mitchell as his John Oliver-style correspondent.

10 O'Clock Live's weakness

Jimmy Carr and Lauren Laverne just don't feel as necessary to the show's limited success, particularly because the former's style of delivery has become tiresome through overexposure.

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I'm not sure if 10 O'Clock Live's premiere was truly indicative of remaining episodes, but there was a notable lack of random sketch ideas here.

It seems the producers have realised that alongside the aforementioned highlights of Brooker and Mitchell's individual segments, the show is at its strongest whenever the four presenters have a chat with readymade quips up their sleeve on the chosen topics.

Comedy's a very subjective thing, but I found this episode easier to sit through than usual because its unnecessary or ill-conceived ideas weren't anywhere near as prevalent (beyond a lame Les Dennis-starring Thatcher musical sketch).

10 O'Clock Live hasn't shaken the comedy firmament, and it will probably never do so. Still, it's a pleasant enough hour of entertainment that occasionally transcends itself with a moment of great writing.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been overhauled enough to tempt back lost viewers, but there are signs 10 O'Clock Live's writers have a better understanding of what works and what doesn't after three years.

  • Verdict: 10 O'Clock Live is no Daily Show With Jon Stewart, but it will do. For now.

    Star grade


What people on Twitter said

@sayhellodavid - "All of Channel 4's problems can be traced back to the fact that they've re-commissioned 10 O'Clock Live. Twice."

@metro_land - "Good job Thatcher died*, otherwise #10oclocklive would be awfully short of material."

‏@HylandIan (TV critic, Ian Hyland) - "David Mitchell on #10oclocklive: 'I hate progress.' You've come to the right show then, Dave."



The views in this article are those of the author alone and not of MSN or Microsoft

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