Thursday, April 28, 2011

Never mind the Royals - Here's Filthy, Rich and Catflap

Oh yeah, those 2 money draining, mass distracting, "what education/economic crisis?" idiots are getting married tomorrow. But fuck all that - here's something REALLY important and worth your time from the UK - Filthy, Rich and Catflap. This fine show is from 1986 and features 3 of the 4 stars from the legendary  (NOT a term I throw around easily) BBC show "The Young Ones" -  Nigel Planner is the stumbling alcoholic showbiz agent "Ralph Filthy",  Rik Mayall's the completely mental and egotistical "Ritchie Rich" along with his roommate and often drunk minder - Adrian Edmonson as "Eddie Catflap".

Instead of the rigors of student life, vampire landlords and Motörhead cameos we have the tales of consistent failure in attempting to break into the entertainment industry. The show maintains some of the same elements that made the "The Young Ones" so classic. Namely, jokes that range from the silly to observations on fame and the media to funny word play. The latter is used mostly by Richie who say "I'm not gonna go to pris(on)", "the crits (critics) will slaughter me!" Similar to The Simpsons it has gags going on in the background. One of which appears in episode five where Richie and Catflap go out to clubs & eateries named "Stringos", "Hippos", and "Lampos" before a final 3am  gorging on Papadum-os.

A lot of the commentaries and jokes are based around British b-level celebrities from the past such as the oft-referenced Jimmy Tarby" Tarbuck who was comparable to maybe Merv Griffin. Also mentioned/referenced are game shows such as "Blankety Blank" and "Celebrity Squares" which were UK parallel shows (not directly related, mind) to America's "Match Game" and "Hollywood Squares".

One of my favorites is in the game show parodies is Richie's guest appearance on the hilariously titled show "Ooer Sounds A Bit Rude". Unlike the Young Ones' direct parody of a real show "University Challenge" (from the same titled episode) this twists the game show from a happy, joyful setting to a place focused on shouting directors going off on camera ops (a thing I know a bit about having worked on a TV news programme) along with the general fakeness of the talent which quickly gives way to utter chaos. Another treat is the visuals on the show - the loud 1970s colors in the "Ooer" scene is only a mild exaggeration of the things worn by Charles Nelson Reily on Match Game or Charo on Hollywood Squares.

Another part of "F, R and C"'s charm is the random bits of slang and language. In one scene Richie is shocked and exclaims "Wot in the name of Satan's Porsche?!" Satan's Porsche woud''ve made a great Butthole Surfers song. A few more of my favorite lines involves a scene with a series of milkman murders. "This is the most milkman shaped stork I've ever seen." Other parts that should give you a few larfs is the lawyer named "Pervy Spurty", and what to do with dead milkman, and why one "little drinky" won't help you sleep.

Along with the entertainment industry, the art world also gets a great send up in the 2nd episode which features the fantastic comedy duo of Steven Fry and Hugh Laurie as Catflap's French patrons. This parody deals brillantly with the whole "what is art?" question and seemingly predicts the forthcoming nonsense of  Damien Hirst and Neckface.

It would be interesting if the show were on now as it could easily play off the contemporary TV show formats of "reality", unfunny "ironic/post-modern" sitcoms and the entertainment shows that report on other entertainment shows so uh, people can be "entertained" or the talk shows that invite other talk show hosts that go into the never-ending cultural-socio abyss. Now I need to watch a bunch of "Bottom" -  the next main venture from Mayall and Edmonson from (1991-95).


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