30 October 2005 | timpers
The character of Swiss works really well into a full length sitcom. OK, so it changed from that of the one-dimensional Fast Show character delivering advice in the form of analogies to Paul - which was perfect for a sketch show - but for a sitcom, you need to see a little deeper into the character, including weaknesses, in order to like them enough to keep watching. It's a bit like dismissing a movie because it isn't true to the book it was based on - you can in fact appreciate the differences and their often inherent necessity, the classic example being that of A Clockwork Orange: a great piece of cinema that worked better without the final chapter that contained Burgess's point - it was a stylish piece of cinema more than a message about the ethics of choice - but essentially, if you can remove all memory of the book, you stand a much better chance of enjoying the film.
And so back to Swiss Toni - the thing that really makes it work, as with all the great sitcoms, is the supporting cast, especially Jeff... and his affair (of sorts) with Swiss's wife. OK, so occasionally shows such as Bottom work with only two characters (the one on the ferris wheel is a classic), but Mayall and Edmondson have exceptional writing and acting talents and energy. As with Swiss, you see Jeff's weaknesses - close up at home with his tragic single life. Jeff's references to TV shows, music and porn are fantastically written and delivered with the most astonishing, paradoxically dry energy. The situations with Swiss's wife lead to the exposure of his gentler side and many more great comments/observations. You gradually get deeper into the mad world that is Jeff's head. His description of himself at speed dating is priceless. Paul's naivety leads to some great gags. And Miranda is feisty and, as Richie Benaud would say, pretty to watch. And the creativity of the new analogies about making love to beautiful women is unbelievable - they keep coming and just get better and better. Nobody I know has watched it - they just assume it will be rubbish - but the changes to Swiss's character and the rest of the cast make it one of the best (in my humble, post 1am after a few beers, ready for bed opinion) shows made in the last few years. To be honest, without Jeff, it would struggle. Simon day is hilarious. Check out Grass - all he has to do is walk in the room singing Bed and Breakfast Man and I'm in bits.