13 November 2012 | mail-479-241123
Full English (Channel 4) – Review
Channel 4′s new animated sitcom has been billed as a rival to US shows The Simpsons and Family Guy. But the creators of Full English have abjectly failed to grasp what makes these shows, and the equally popular South Park, so sharp, funny, and well directed.
OK, they've weakly cloned a few of Family Guy's more recognisable characters, but they've utterly failed to clone the skill and expertise behind the execution.
As a nation we love American cartoon series. We pay millions to the US to import them. And yet our own comedy writers appear to learn nothing from them. Family Guy has pace. It's crammed with physical action and visual gags. It effectively uses the fact that it's an animated series – creating story lines and gag set-ups on a huge scale.
You can do anything you like in an animated series. Homer Simpson has been into outer space. Peter Griffin has fought with a giant chicken across five continents. Stewie and Brian have gone back in time and fought against the Nazis.
In contrast, Full English is small scale, unimaginative, unbearably slow, and seems to consist mainly of close ups of talking heads in the living rooms of terraced houses.
Even in the nineteen sixties the Americans were teaching us the skills we needed to make great cartoon series. Top Cat, The Flintstones, these fast moving, pacy shows were laying the foundations for Family Guy and The Simpsons. Seth MacFarlane and Matt Groening watched and learned. We didn't.
Alex Scarfe (son of legendary caricaturist Gerald) and Jack & Harry Williams have written an unfunny script that could just as easily have been shot with actors in a studio set. They've effectively penned a live action sitcom and then handed it to some animators and said, "Make it move." And to be honest, the animation looks pretty cheap, drab and shoddy.
South Park has its finger on the pulse. It taps into the zeitgeist – sharply satirising what's going on in the real world in the present day. Full English churned out a lame parody of Britain's Got Talent – a series that's been running on UK television for five years – picking up on the fact that Simon Cowell tends to cash in on contestants' sob stories.
Sorry guys, but I'm afraid the whole of Britain has been taking the mickey out of that since the summer of 2007. What are you going to send up next week? Harold Wilson and the miners' strike?
Richard Ayoade (IT Crowd) and Kayvan Novak (Facejacker) are the two main voice talents, and they, at least, add a touch of class to this deeply flawed and disappointing project.
The people who commissioned this series clearly knew very little about animation, and they have subsequently spent millions of pounds of Channel Four's money making a cartoon series that is not fit to lick the boots of Seth MacFarlane or Matt Groening.
Read more TV reviews at Mouthbox.co.uk