Wednesday 26 December 2012

PHIL enters the Royles’ living room.

Barbara: Oh Jim look it’s Phil! Hiya Phil

Phil: Alright Barbara?

JIM raises his head to acknowledge Phil. DAVE and DENISE move up the sofa to make room for PHIL.

Dave: Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalrite Phil?

Phil: Alright Dave

Denise: Hiya Phil

Phil: Alright Denise (looks at DENISE’s chebs)

Barbara: Oh you’re just in time to watch The Royle Family Christmas special with us.

Phil: Oh I watched it already.

Barbara: Jim…Phil’s already watched it.

Jim: Oh has he? My arse or something.

Barbara: Denise, Phil’s already watched it.

Denise: Have you already watched it, Phil?

Phil: Yeah, I already watched it.

Denise: Dave! Phil’s already watched it.

Dave: Has he already watched it, Denise? Phil, have you already watched it?

Phil: Yeah, I’ve already watched it, Dave. It was fucking shit.

I didn’t want to bring the tone of my Christmas Day blog down by mentioning The Royle Family special: it was fucking rubbish wasn’t it? It’s really tragic what has become of it.  When people talk about a television programme as original and daring they are often just talking shit. The Royle Family was original and daring. For three series and a couple of Christmas specials. Seinfeld is always referred to as a show about nothing. But it wasn’t – it was a show about getting annoyed by the trivial, confused by convention and generally it involved quite a few things happening.

In The Royle Family nothing happened. Not nothing in the sense of nothing (Dave and Denise approached their wedding, Denise was pregnant) but nothing in the sense of nothing. People (Anthony or Barb) made cups of tea, people asked each other what they had for tea, characters had really mundane conversation where they repeated things unnecessarily, etc. The titular family just sat on their settee watching television and picking at each other – taking in visits from the next-door neighbour and Dave.

It was often as tragically reminiscent of my life as a piece of television has ever been – with the difference being that The Royle Family was brilliant and funny and I loved it.

But now The Royle Family is reminiscent of how I felt about my real life: it’s fucking appalling and I wish someone would stop it. I guess it’s true what they say, you can’t have it all. Happy with The Royle Family? Unhappy in life. Mildly satisfied with my existence? The Royle Family is fucking shit.

A lot of people say that The Queen of Sheeba was the last good episode but I didn’t even like that (don’t like old people: didn’t like Nana). But it wasn’t terrible. Everything since that has been terrible. Terrible. The one about the eggcup – where they weren’t even in the house for parts of it. GET IN THE HOUSE – IT’S THE ROYLE FAMILY you fucking douches. Dave in the bath with a turkey? What the fuck was that? After the end of the third series Dave went from being someone who was a bit of a dim bloke to a caricatured simpleton.

While the character of Dave noticeably changed the rest of them have just become caricatures. Actually that’s not true: they have become spiteful. Or, more accurately, their spite no longer has any charm. They were just being  nasty – the kind of working class people that go on Jeremy Kyle. Dave and Denise’s version of parenthood isn’t remotely funny – at least this was kind of acknowledged with one ‘joke’ but it’s never really been explained. Are we supposed to believe that Denise is so selfish she doesn’t know how to make a cup of tea? Utter bollocks. Or that they left the Christmas tree up for a year to avoid the fuss of putting it up again. Shite.

And Jim was in his pants for bits of it. I don’t want to see that. Haha! A big fat man in his underpants! Hilarious. And all the people they talked about had alliterative nicknames. Working class council estate people: they describe people with an adjective that starts with the same letter as their name. The new character, Cadging Carol (see! CC – brilliant), was fucking awful – and not in a good way.

What else? Montages to music. Jim going out of his way to help Joe out. Probably more, my brain has already began wiping the memories.

Was it all that terrible? Well nearly all of it was that terrible. The first ten minutes or so wasn’t that bad. I don’t know how not bad – it’s all relative isn’t it? My expectations were very low to start with so even the bits I liked could have been terrible. I definitely smiled when Joe held up two lamb chops to the side of his face and said Bradley Wiggins.

What has happened is that they have entirely changed the show’s feel. It used to be a very realistic (well it was slightly sentimental – but so is reality every now and then) show which you found it hard to believe got commissioned because it was so normal, northern and subtle. Now it has become exactly the kind of broad, horrible shit that I can’t believe everybody loves. I imagine the Mrs Brown’s Boys fans lapped up this shit. It is like the BBC forced a new writer on the existing cast and told them to be broader and gurn while delivering every line. However it wasn’t written by some cretin. It was written by Aherne, Cash and Phil Mealey (who co-wrote Early Doors) who are clearly able to write genius comedy…maybe ‘were able’ is more accurate. It has certainly made me rethink my wish for Early Doors to return.

I was twice as miserable as this by the end of the programme

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