Thursday, June 23, 2011

Carry On Luggage: BBC's Come Fly With Me

[photo copyright BBC]

Matt Lucas and David Walliams, the daffy duo known for Little Britain [2] and Rock Profile [2], are no strangers to playing a myriad of bizarre characters. They have practically built their entire reputation on playing anyone and everyone, from the supposed 'average' Brit to some of the most famous popstars from the past thirty years. No premise is too off-the-wall or too tasteless for these two chameleons, and their brand of humor is a certifiable cringefest.

Lucas and Walliams' new series, Come Fly With Me, which debuted last week on BBC America, is yet another stab at the increasingly popular mockumentary genre. Like Parks and Recreation and The Office franchise, Come Fly With Me intersperses workplace scenes with employee talking heads that underline the inefficiency of their entire enterprise. Here, Lucas and Walliams have set their show in the hub of a bustling airport that is rife with bureaucratic screw-ups and worthless workers. Apparently, over the run of the six half-hour episodes that constitute this first series, the partners will play more than fifty characters, including a husband and wife pilot team; the coffee kiosk lady; and a set of oblivious paparazzi! Many American viewers who are not familiar with the Little Britain style might find their portrayal of characters of differing classes, ethnicities, races, and genders (with liberal amounts of make-up, bad accents, stereotypes, and prosthetics) uncomfortable, but that's part of their buffoonery. Fans of Little Britain will note one major difference between the two series: Come Fly With Me has no laughs! Little Britain was a pro at the sort of embarrassing humor that Ricky Gervais and Arrested Development fans appreciate, but, without the audience laughs to break the ice, the awkwardness of Come Fly With Me is even more palpable.

But that shouldn't scare you off! After viewing the first episode, my hopes are soaring for this show. So far, we have already met the owner of Flylo Airlines, Omar Baba (Walliams); Fearghal O'Farrell (Lucas), a steward who stuffed a baby into the overhead compartment; and Melody and Keeley, the vapid check-in girls who come across as a combination of Little Britain's Carol Beer ('computer says no') and a smarter Vicky Pollard. My favorite characters from the first episode were Moses Beacon, the eager to please Passenger Liaison, and Hetty Wolf, an elderly lady who claims to be a first-time passenger to improve her flying experience. They were the Lou and Andy of this particular show. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you'll just have to tune in to catch up! Come Fly With Me is definitely a must-see for fans of Little Britain and Tracey Ullman.

(Incidentally, for those unfamiliar with Little Britain, it had a similar all-inclusive premise. Lucas and Walliams played dozens of characters of every ilk who were supposed to represent a typical cross-section of English society. While the show was supposed to be a look at the lives of ordinary Brits, most characters were usually downright perverse. Rock Profile, on the other hand, was an earlier series that ran on the BBC. It was a 'real' popstar interview program hosted by an actual children's television presenter, Jamie Theakston. Lucas and Walliams played up everyone from Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey to Elton John, George Michael, Blur (all four members between the two of them!), ABBA, and Bono and The Edge from U2. Looking back over the highs of Lucas and Walliams' first two popular series thrills me to welcome them back with a whole new set of characters!)

Come Fly With Me airs on BBC America on Saturdays at 10:30 PM EST, but consult your local listings so you don't miss the flight!

No comments:

Post a Comment