All the television news you need
9th February 2012 20:28:00
Posted by Nick Bryan

We Recommend: 10 O’Clock Live

10 O'Clock Live returns to Channel 4, with David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker, Lauren Laverne and Jimmy Carr. Review of the first episode.
Wednesday saw the return of 10 O’Clock Live, Channel 4’s live satirical show that has done an amazing job of turning us all into armchair producers. All through the first run, debate raged both on and offline (at least in my circle of friends) about how they should “fix” this show.

And now they’re back for a second series, retooled and with a shorter runtime. Admittedly, it’s only five minutes shorter, but still: will it silence those critics?

image

Well, the main change seems to be an increased focus on the roundtable discussions, rather than just dragging everyone together at the end. Our comedic heroes, David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker, Jimmy Carr and Lauren Laverne, sit around and debate the issues, and every so often one of them goes off to do a solo spot.

And at least it makes the whole thing seem less like a string of disconnected segments. They’re trying to bring a firmer base to the hour, and I applaud them. Perhaps because it’s one of the exact things I said they should be doing whilst talking to friends in the pub.

On the other hand, if you hated the first series, this slight format tweak won’t change your mind. The content has the same problems it always had: Yes, the Mitchell and Brooker solo segments usually work, it’s them doing what they do, but Jimmy Carr’s sketches are often painful and they must find something to do with Lauren Laverne beyond giving glorified PowerPoint presentations to camera.

image

It’s a particularly strange disconnect with Carr, who is genuinely funny and insightful during some roundtables, offering a not-quite-as-liberal counterargument to David Mitchell, but then his sketches veer into political pantomime, and not even a particularly good one.

And in political terms, it’s a bit too keen to crush the anti-banker/anti-Mail gravel into you with a hammer. Even if you agree with them, it gets wearing. And not sure who they were winning over by adding Alastair Campbell to the table at the end - doesn’t more or less everyone hate him?

So in short, 10 O’Clock Live is making steps in the right direction, there's definite improvement here. In a few years, it may even be an efficient satire machine. Whether Channel 4 are willing to fund this haphazard development is uncertain.

10 O'Clock Live can be seen Wednesdays on Channel 4 at, yes, 10 o'clock. More information on their official site, or catch up with recent episodes on 4OD.