Sunday, 18 January 2009

Is It An Argument Against Flimsy Pretexts For Putting Mildly Amusing Pictures At The End Of Panel Shows?

Dave has commissioned a second series of Argumental. The TV channel Dave, that is, not my mate Dave, who almost never funds or broadcasts comedy panel game series. For those of you who haven't seen Argumental, the idea is that two teams of comedians debate topics in various silly ways and the audience judge who is the best and they win nothing. It basically works, but there are a few things that I noticed in the first series that spoil it somewhat. These things are centred around Rufus Hound.

Hound is one of the team captains, the other being Marcus Brigstocke. While Brigstocke is polite, well-spoken and usually very funny, Hound has an annoying habit of attempting to use Argument By Volume and Argument From Length Of Rant as his two intellectual mainstays. And that's not bad, in its place, but it's place is not when Marcus Brigstocke is trying to say something which is probably cleverer or funnier than whatever Hound is shouting over it. I'm pretty sure I've seen Hound 'win' an episode simply by being the only person who got a word in.

What I'm getting at is that Hound Vs. Brigstocke would be a perfectly good setup if the show had a decent compere. It doesn't. Argumental is presented by John Sergeant, who is an accomplished political commentator but knows as much about compering a comedy panel show as he does about ballroom dancing: he can turn up and go through the motions as well as the next man, but it's not his strong point. He almost never intervenes in the debates -- in the first series I think it happened once, and that was to correct Hound about history.

If your compere isn't prepared to wade in, you need polite and respectful contestants, and if you have shouty, ranty contestants then you need a strong compere to rein them in. Hound and Sergeant are both returning in series two, so either Dave has not noticed that the setup isn't working as well as it could or else they're going to have a stern word with Sergeant and tell him he needs to stop Hound sometimes so other people can play.

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