TV review of the year: five great comedies from 2017
PUBLISHED: 00:39 10 December 2017
From playground politics to comedy about fostering, Gameface to Catastrophe via Inside No 9, it was a good year for comedy fans
Five great comedies of 2017
1) Motherland, BBC2: There was a mother whose children went to school with mine who would arrive in the playground on a Segway – she would glide through the gates, circumnavigate the perimeter causing parents to scatter like rabbits in headlights, barely stop for long enough to pick up her pillion passenger and then glide away into the distance. At the time, I thought what a brilliant seg-ment (sorry) this would make in a sitcom about the horror of the playground. I didn’t write it. But even if I had, it wouldn’t have been a patch on Motherland, a joint effort from Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe), Graham Linehan (Father Ted), Helen Linehan and Holly Walsh. Some people hated it because the characters were largely loathesome, that’s why I liked it.
2) Back, Channel 4: “Mum’s gone for a wicker coffin. Reminds me of the baskets we used to serve pub food in. Dad’s like a giant scampi.” When my Nan died, my Mum and I chose her a wicker coffin – another member of the family let forth a stage whisper in the crematorium: “They’re sending her to heaven in a cat basket.” David Mitchell and Robert Webb excelled in this black comedy about death which wasn’t afraid to go to dark recesses: “There’s a music festival here. It has four stages. Like cancer.”
3) Gameface, E4: A tour de force about a woman recovering from a terrible break-up who tries to get her life back on track in a completely relatable way (in other words, she self-medicates, makes a host of regrettable decisions and does it all with unfailing optimism regardless of the chaos surrounding her). Written, produced and starring Roisin Conaty, it was a strange combination of being gentle and riotous, laugh-out-loud funny and poignant, all at the same time. I love Marcella. And her “fat hands”.
4) Catastrophe, Channel 4: Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan’s sitcom about the longest one-night stand of all time is still a treat three seasons in. Razor-sharp, painfully awkward, horribly real, this year’s finale also had the added poignancy of showing Carrie Fisher’s last ever TV scene, filmed shortly before she died. Her last words? “It’s great TV.” Yes.
5) Inside No 9, BBC2: Like a brilliant Tales of the Unexpected, this series from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton is a dark treat for anyone who enjoys a bit of homage spotting (they come thick and fast – B movies, films, tropes). How the pair manage to pack so much into self-contained episodes is a miracle - how anyone sleeps after watching it is even more of one.