Monday, August 14, 2017

Round the Bend

Round the Bend; comedy series, UK, 1988; D: John Henderson, S: Jon Glover, Jonathan Kydd, Philip Pope, Kate Robbins 

Doc Croc is the host of an underground sewage TV show, using his associates - Vincent and other rats; David Colemole, the sports commentator; John Potato's newsround - to run the program. They broadcast several cartoons for the viewers, among them "Wee-Man", "Loud Lucy", "Pzycho the Magnificent", "Spambo", "Ricky" and others.

Independently produced "Round the Bend" was briefly shown in the UK during its premiere in the late 80s and after that disappeared in a "bunker", never even receiving a DVD release, thus quickly affirming unbelievable cult reputation as a "lost treasure". Even from today's perspective, it is still a remarkably fresh TV show consisting out of a live action (puppets) and animated (short cartoon clips) segment that form a blend of sheer delight. "Round the Bend" is one of the rare examples of a comedy show that is both unbelievably grotesque-bizarre and yet innocent, benign, harmless and childish at the same time: even though not all jokes work (the parody "False Teeth From Beyond the Stars" looks particularly dated and unfunny, for instance), many of its concoctions conquer with an incredible wit, ingenuity and comic inspiration.

For instance, one cartoon clip is called "Loud Lucy" and features an eponymous 10-year old girl who always talks annoyingly loud. One episode has Lucy in the church commenting at the people around her out loud, from her cousin who has acne ("Why does cousin Kevin smell so much?! Is it because his spots keep buuursting, mom?!") up to the bride ("Gosh, she looks even uglier than you said, mom!"). Many other cartoons are spoofs of numerous popular animated shows, from "He-Man" ("Wee-Man", featuring the hero who wears a diaper), through "Care Bears" ("Couldn't-Care-Less-Bears", featuring bears who fart, bathe in mud or outright pick their nose) up to "Batman" ("Botman", featuring the hero who has a giant butt, yet when he only puts away his mask, nobody can recognize his distinguished rear), very often ending in hilariously exaggerated satire. The highlight is arguably a howlingly funny animated parody on Little Red Riding Hood, which reaches cosmic heights of hilarity ("What snaggly, yellow teeth you got... And what bad breath you got... And what hairy legs you got...", says Riding Hood, until the old lady warns her that she is in the wrong house again, and stands up from bed to shoot at the girl). The ratio of humor between the live action and animated segment is 1:3, making the Doc Croc segment sometimes irrelevant, yet it is still a worthy example of children's satire that also appeals to grown ups as well.


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