This week, fledgling ITV1 panel show Mad Mad World limped into its fifth episode. The series kicked off just over a month ago with pretty much universally negative reviews – some disliked it, the rest didn’t watch it. I was one of those who disliked it but I think it’s safe to say that it’s gradually improving…but only very gradually.
‘TARRANT ON TV TEAMED WITH CELEBRITY JUICE’
I think the premise of the show is quite good – it’s like Tarrant On TV teamed with Celebrity Juice, with various bizarre clips being shown from TV shows around the world for a host of star guests and comedians to pass comment and answer questions on. Why then, why isn’t it more entertaining to watch?
The rounds are fine. The clips are fine. The questions are fine – they give the contributors plenty of leeway to make jokes – but there lies the problem: the contributors. Paddy McGuinness is a great performer (Take Me Out wouldn’t be half the success it is without him) and can hold an audience as a stand-up. However, for some reason he’s just not up-to-par here. He seems to be misjudging his role as a panel show host and to wise-up, he need look no further than Rob Brydon who, on Would I Lie To You?, is brilliant – he gets involved with the game and makes observations himself without diverting the audience’s attention from the panellists so that we always know he’s there but he never dominates. I genuinely think that if Paddy took a leaf out of his fellow comedian’s book, he could make Mad Mad World a lot better.
And then, we come to Rufus Hound. Oh Rufus! Please, Rufus! Just go back to Celebrity Juice with your tail between your legs, say sorry to Mr. Lemon and then you may get your career back on track! You see, on Mad Mad World, he’s just not really funny. Sure, he comes close to being funny but no one’s going to want to watch someone who’s nearly funny, are they? He really needs to up his game if he wants to be remembered as anything more than ‘Rufus from Celebrity Juice’.
On the upside, there’s also team captain Rhys Darby and regular panellist Rob Rouse, both of whom are coming into their own and making good, memorable and – most importantly – funny observations so are the two people who are keeping this show afloat at the moment.
This week, Kimberly Wyatt and Charlie Baker joined Rhys Darby his team. Were they the best choices? Let’s see: Kimberly seemed to be doing a sponsored silence throughout the programme, and Charlie Baker offered no more than a mere couple of witticisms which were met with polite titters from the audience and panellists. It’s such a shame! Seeing Baker used to bring back memories of a brilliant episode of Channel 4’s The IT Crowd (Jen the Fredo, in case you’re interested) but now it just brings back nightmares of his recent stint as a team captain on A Short History of Everything Else (also Channel 4). A Short History seemed – quite justifiably – to come and go without many people noticing and is likely never to be resurrected, probably much to the relief of everyone involved. He didn’t make an impression on A Short History, neither did he on Mad Mad World and I think it’s safe to say he isn’t looking to be a panel-show icon!
SWASH THE SAVIOUR
The one saving grace in this week’s Mad Mad World was Joe Swash, who provided some brilliant moments and appeared to find a niche in the show – humour.
For example, his performance in the ‘Lost in Translation’ round (which is strangely reminiscent of Mock the Week) was hilarious. I barely recognised his voice, so deep did it sound. It really proved that with just a little bit of effort, he can sound less like a masculine Joe Pasquale and more like Gyles Brandreth.
His one-liners were inspired, too. Such beauties included “Old people die, don’t they?” and – my personal favourite, “Cats take the piss.”
His hugely funny appearance on this week’s Mad Mad World just makes you think – why hasn’t another panel show snapped him up as a regular? He’s given equally brilliant appearances previously on Celebrity Juice and was very popular on Britain Unzipped earlier this year.
Maybe Joe should replace Rufus Hound?
The Mad Mad World QUOTE OF THE WEEK is possibly the catchiest song ever on TV. If you didn’t see it, just type the following into YouTube:
“I have a bad case of diarrhoea.”