Spitting Image has returned for 2020, but should it have done? When it began in 1984, it was great because they were so many real-life characters on which to base their puppets, but as politics moved on beyond Thatcherism, they really struggled, and the show eventually died a slow and painful death in 1996.
24 years on, and what’s also struggling is Britbox, a subscription service showing you a lot of the same stuff that’s now being shown endlessly on TV anyway because a worldwide pandemic puts paid to a lot of new content being made. Yes, there’s still a fair amount of new content on regular TV and Netflix etc, but the majority of this was made in 2019 or prior to that. From late next year, the bite is really going to kick in.
And even if Britbox has some shows that the free-to-air services don’t, would it matter anyway, because BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All4 are all platforms which have some much free content, you’ll never get through it all. I do wonder, however, who’s paying for that and how long they can sustain it.
But about this Spitting Image 2020, and for the mere 23 minutes, we begin with Prince Andrew being invited for an interview – only to be smacked across the back of the head with a plank of wood, and Donald Trump tweeting from his bed about ‘Covfefe’ – which happened on May 31st 2017, so that’s a three-year-old joke, and he uses his bumhole to tweet instead of him, and whoever’s voicing him sounds nothing like the man.
There’s Boris Johnson taking direction from a Dan Dare Mekon-like Dominic Cummings, and for anyone unsure, he’s the No.10 enforcer who broke the government’s own COVID19 rules, since after he contracted the virus, he then drove over 200 miles to Barnard Castle for the day and claimed he was “testing his eyesight”. Boris was given several chances to sack him, but refused because Cummings clearly knows too much, perhaps even how many children Boris has, since he hasn’t a clue.
Tony Blair had the same sort of moron in Alistair Campbell, who now spends all his time going on TV to cry about his ‘mental health’. He knows exactly how to pluck at the audience’s heart-strings. Don’t believe his lies.
There was outrage about the programme using Greta Thunberg (top picture), the young Swedish girl who probably started off with good intentions when bunking off school on a Friday for a ‘school strike for climate’ – and if I was at school, I’d have done the same because school was boring. However, as time has gone on, her parents have sent her around the world and with the financial backing of George Soros, she’s a puppet (in real form) who’s being used as his poster girl. She’s basically, the modern-day Howard Beale from the film, Network, being abused by those in charge to further their agenda.
You’d think she would be happy that COVID19 has stopped everyone flying in great numbers but no, she’ll never be happy. She’s still moaning.
As for what she does here, she just shouts “HOT!” when she’s tasked with giving a weather forecast, before saying a few more disjointed words towards the end. That’s it. What a waste of time.
So, modern life does have its characters, like Trump, Boris and Greta, but if you just watch any day’s news broadcast, you’ll see it happening in real life, instead of paying Britbox £6/month to see it in puppet form.
However, I’ll give them a point for the fact that, at least, they got right how the Trump/Biden Presidential Debate showed them both up to be a couple of clowns, whereas the mainstream media made it sound like only Trump fluffed, and Biden shone like a diamond. Not sure how many times, though, they’ll get to use the puppet they made of Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who chaired the debate. That said, he does crop up in other sketches but in the background.
The other characters and scenes are The Queen creating the Spitting Image opening logo, Lewis Hamilton promoting an oil company, Dominic Raab as a karate expert, a Disney-like company – Bizney – trying to be politically correct with a black Baby Yoda, Mistress Patel’s Boudoir – Priti Patel as a dominatrix humiliating Michael Gove, a deluded David Attenborough joining Instagram, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in bed, then Harry applying for a job in the US before dressing up in his Hitler uniform, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on a tour of the Centre for Disease Control and making a deal with a COVID19 virus, a No.10 meeting about locking students in their dorm rooms – bringing Health Secretary Matt Hancock into the equation, Elton John and Labour leader Keir Starmer chatting at a party with the former trying to jazz-up the latter’s image with his costumes, and Dwayne Johnson endorsing Joe Biden as his preferred Presidential Candidate – whilst having a ‘pocket’ Kevin Hart in his top pocket.
And finally, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sings a song “Super-Kiwi-socialistic-Extra-nice-Jacinda!” as a ‘perfect in every way’ Mary Poppins because they’ve made a better job of the pandemic than most countries.
However, it’s not just Trump, but in fact, hardly anyone sounds like they people they’re meant to be.
But, did I say just one point? Okay, a point for the Priti Patel spoof as well as that was quite humourous, so that’s a No.2 for Spitting Image 2020 No.1. I expect most people, like me, will have created a free trial account for 7 days just to check this out and then ditch it forever.
Spitting Image is on Britbox weekly on Saturdays from today, and for 10 weeks in total. The series is not available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but you can buy various DVDs of the original series.
Check out the trailer below… and also a video on how to cancel your free subscription!:
Episode 1 Score: 2/10
Directors: Andy De Emmony, Steve Connelly
Producer: Matt Stronge
Creators: Luck & Flaw (Peter Fluck and Roger Law)
Music: Willie Dowling
Title music: Felix Hagan
Writers: Gemma Arrowsmith, David X Cohen, Matt Forde, Jason Hazeley, George Jeffrie, F Maxwell, Tom Neenan, Bill Odenkirk, Brona C Titley, Karl Minns, Nico Tatarowicz, Bert Tyler-Moore, Patric M Verrone, Phil Wang, Jeff Westbrook, Keisha Zollar
Voice artists: Daniel Barker, John Dimaggio, Jason Forbes, Matt Forde, George Fouracres, Luke Kempner, Phil Lamarr, Lewis Macleod, Jess Robinson, Debra Stephenson, Indira Varma, Billy West, Debra Wilson
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.