Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Just Look Around You

"The brain is basically a wrinkled bag of skin filled with warm water, veins, and thought muscles. Think of it as a kind of modified heart, only with a mind, or brain."

If you found that sentence as brilliantly funny as I did, you're in for a treat. I'm a nerd with a dry sense of humor, so when I found out about BBC 2's "Look Around You" about a year ago, I was delighted.

It's a parody of late-70s / early-80s British educational films, and is done in period style, down to the cheerful, warbly electronic music and instructions for writing certain information in your copy book in each episode. I'm not British, and was barely cognizant in the era this show seems to take place in, but it reminds me of old episodes of "3-2-1 Contact" and "Nova." (Speaking of which, 3-2-1 Contact had an awesome opening song. As did "Voyage of the Mimi," in my memory anyway.)

The first series of the show is comprised of eight ten-minute "modules." Each is full of plausible-sounding nonsense delivered by a knowledgeable-enough-sounding British voice and demonstrated by series co-creator Peter Serafinowicz, pictured, right. Actually, that picture isn't accurate, since in the show, he's almost exclusively seen from the upper lip down.

"Why," you may ask, "should I give a rip about Peter Serafinowicz?" Well, you liked Shawn of the Dead, didn't you? "Of course." Well, he played Pete, the ill-fated roommate of our protagonists. "Neat. Did he also play a role in Shawn creators Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's previous sitcom, 'Spaced?'" Yes; he played lead character Tim's nemesis Duane Benzie, and in that role he got to repeat a line or two from his most famous role, that of the voice of Darth Maul in the Phantom goddamned Menace. Incidentally, my dear interlocutor, "Spaced" is finally being released on DVD in the United States this July, and you should buy yourself a copy, and then get me one for my birthday.

And to get yourself ready for some of the best recent British comedy around, you can watch all of the first series of modules from Look Around You on YouTube. Please, enjoy:
  1. Maths
  2. Water
  3. Germs
  4. Ghosts
  5. Sulphur
  6. Music
  7. Iron
  8. Brain
In the second series, they changed up the format to include more presenter characters, and seemingly shoved the setting a few years into the eighties. A few chunks of those episodes can also be found on Your Tube. Enjoy them if you encounter them, as well.

Next time we speak of British comedy on this blog, we will speak of Alan Partridge. Aha!

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