Last night, we sat down with high hopes for 'the 10 O'clock show' on channel 4. I really want this show to work. It's got a great team fronting it, Charlie Brooker, David Mitchell, Jimmy Carr and Lauren Laverne. Okay, I've got to modify the 'great team' comment, I'm not familiar with Miss Laverne. Individually, the people I do know are excellent, and, firing on all cylinders, it should be great.
It wasn't. The team were visibly nervous, understandably so - but quite surprising given some of their histories, Jimmy Carr in particular regularly works large audiences with skill and wit. The show misfired.
I'm willing to cut it some slack, it'll take some time to bed in, but it'll have to do so quickly.
Firstly, the look and feel of the programme was nothing like the trailers - this was an error, the electric-neon sets jarred with the established 'disorganised newsroom' tone from the (seemingly never-ending) trailers.
Jimmy Carr just wasn't his sparkling self, his stand-up just didn't feel as polished as we've come to expect.
Laverne, alas, may as well have not been there, I cannot recall what role she played. Whether this was due to her or the demands of the script I don't know - I can't remember her.
Mitchell's interviews were good, the environmental chap was okay (in comparison with the show to that point, he seemed much better) - and kudos must go to David Willets for being the high profile guinea-pig. Mitchell asked questions of him which simply haven't been asked in the media before (to my frustration), such as 'do we really need so many people going to university?' (this is not the same as denying the opportunity to go to university). At times, he didn't follow through, but he got further than most.
Charlie Brooker was excellent, but in comparison to the rest of the show, this excellence was jarring - it was newswipe surrounded by pretty mediocre stuff. It often aimed for the 'low' end of comment, which was a shame.
I think I was hoping for 'The Now Show', but with pictures and the odd interview.
If I could wind back the clock and reboot, what changes would I make? This is a very unfair thing to wonder, based on one performance..... but lets do it anyway.
I'd keep Brooker and Mitchell, but Carr didn't really cut it for me (surprisingly), and Laverne's presence was a mystery.
I think I would include Marcus Brigstock into the mix for the stand up, he has a history of turning around excellent and topical routines for radio 4's weekly 'Now Show', and can be very underused on television. Steve Punt would also be a useful person to have in the mix.
Unfortunately, Linda Smith is no longer with us, but Hattie Hayridge could be a good fit - I might even have a rotating cast, based around the core of Brooker/Mitchell - which would keep things fresh and allow experimentation.
Based on one show, such changes would be an over-reaction, I do hope that the experience will mean that next thursday shows improvement. I do want the show to do well, it aims to fill a vital gap in the news coverage (that of 'Now Show for TV'), but it needs to get a lot less patchy, and fast.