Tracey Ullman’s Show is the comedienne’s first programme for UK television since ITV’s Girls On Top back in 1983 and presumably she couldn’t call it the more customary title of The Tracey Ullman Show as she used that for a US comedy series from 1987-1990, which also spawned a little known cartoon series called The Simpsons, which might still be around today, I’m not sure.
Tracey does a very good Judi Dench (below) and Angela Merkel, both of which are used in a couple of sketches each, but if they’re to return for more episodes (and no doubt they will, given the great make-up job) then they need more, because, in Dench’s case at least, it’s only got the one joke. Her Maggie Smith is a misfire as she looks nothing like her, but she’s better with a character called Karen, a woman freed after half a lifetime abroad in jail for dealing drugs, with Gwen Taylor playing her mother. Hence, I think the proof of this programme will be in seeing how episodes two and three follow this first one, and the scene it sets for the rest of the series.
It all appears to be shot on location with nothing filmed in a studio, as there’s so many different types of sketches, so there’s no audience to record laughter! And even if there was, comedy programmes that rely on it will take laughter responding to a better joke and use it to pep up those which received fewer laughs, so it’s a con and it’s not necessary.
The show is clearly better than the BBC thinks it is, however. 10.45pm on a Monday is a stupidly late time. Everyone will be asleep by the time it starts! Hence, if a second series is to be commissioned, it should be given a move to Friday BBC1 at 9pm or 9.30pm, and ditch the canned laughter. That said, some of the content may be more ‘BBC2’, such as the job interview, so an alternative available at 10pm on a weeknight, which is still not too late.
Tracey Ullman’s Show continues next Monday on BBC1 at 10.45pm, and it is available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of its release on February 22nd 2016.
If you missed it, you can watch the episode on BBC iPlayer, up until February 10th. Also, click on the packshot for the full-size image.
Episode 1 Score: 7/10
Director: Dominic Brigstocke
Producer: Caroline Norris
Writers: Kevin Cecil, Andy Riley, Georgia Pritchett, Lucy Montgomery, Arthur Matthews, Laurence Rickard
Music: Richard Thomas and Andy Marlow
Daniel Lawrence Taylor
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.