Damien on… The Return Of Zuckhams
Thirty years ago, Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker created a spoof genre that has often been imitated, but never equalled – until now.
“Airplane!” and “Police Squad!” heralded a new style of comedy, which mixed sight-gags – some in the background – with dead-pan delivery of absurd cliché lines by famous, serious actors.
The sheer number of jokes often required several viewings to get them all.
And now, Charlie Brooker has taken that formula to the max. “A Touch Of Cloth” – a reference to the popular but tedious police procedural, “A Touch Of Frost” – crossed with what happens to people who do not make it to the bathroom in time – does to Brit cop shows what “Police Squad!” did to Quinn Martin productions.
It’s all there – background gags like the poster showing items of fruit, with the title, “Fruits Which Are Not Oranges” (a reference to the controversial drama series, “Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit”) and the “Now Wash Your Hands” sign in the toilet – featuring a silhouette wearing a police helmet.
And cliché lines like, “You can’t go in there – it’s impossible!” – but John Hannah opens the door anyway – to reveal a blank wall.
Hannah was the perfect choice to head up the cast. Like Leslie Nielsen and Lloyd Bridges before him, he has played his part for real.
Created as an 85 minute movie, “A Touch Of Cloth” is split into two TV episodes. And this is genius, because this formula really only works in 40 minute segments. Go for longer and “laughter fatigue” sets in – and the audience begins to anticipate the gags.
This is intended to be the first of three such forays – the second is already in production – and I think there are still plenty of “…-cloth” gags left…