January 7, 2009

Spoons: Watch it a couple of times

Like summertime TV everywhere the options on New Zealand TV in the summer are pretty bad. That probably explains how they acquired Spoons to broadcast at odd times like 10:20 on a Tuesday. Spoons is good foam roller and stretching time TV. Not so funny that you fall off the foam roller, yet not so dull that I stop roller-ing and stretching. This, of course, is why there was no second series of Spoons.

There is one overarching premise to the sketches on Spoons: people don't always tell their romantic partners everything they are thinking. The secondary premise of the sketches often seems to be misanthropy. Again, this is why there was not a second series. The great insight of the Hollywood romantic comedy in all its similarly repetitive glory is that a budding romance is a nice thing, but with many opportunities for humor. Spoons is bleak in its assessment of human nature. I enjoy black humor, but there's only so much of it I can take. It turns out 30 minutes in one sitting is a little much.

The best part of Spoons is the sketch that seems to end every show, where a man goes to his storage unit containing just a folding chair, calls his wife and says he'll be home late for some plausible reason (traffic, supermarket delays, urgent deadlines etc). The repetitive sketch works because it's explicit—the same character, the same empty storage unit, the same structure of the conversation with his wife—and also because of the element of the absurd. Are there really people who hire storage units to get away from their families? (any correspondence on this matter will be kept anonymous ...)

The rest of Spoons is too repetitive in the structure of the sketches, varying just the actors and the settings. It's funny to see one skit based on the idea that men won't come out with their partner's female friends because of what women [apparently] talk about without men present. It's not nearly as funny the 3rd time with more variation in the clothes the actors are wearing than the actual joke.

Yet the reason I've persisted with watching Spoons instead of the other 5 options is the refreshingly abrasive British humor. The abrasive humor is another way of saying misanthropy, but it is a humor you don't often see on American TV. It's a pity the writers and actors couldn't diversify the sketches in Spoons a little more, because the method would apply to other situations than dating. The promise of the series seems to have been lost in the over-application of a good idea.

Posted by eroberts at January 7, 2009 6:00 PM