Ronna and Beverly: two excitable American chat show hosts (played by Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo, respectively) exploded onto our screens on Monday on Sky Atlantic. What was shown in the trailers was the promise of a brilliantly funny take on the talk show format: one which will see the guests being grilled with ridiculous questions and being made to feel uncomfortable by equally ridiculous hosts. What came across on-screen was far from this, unfortunately.
RONNA & RUBY?
As soon as Ronna and Beverly (who for some reason reminds me of Ruby Wax) bounced onto the set, the former positioning herself on the stage looking quite serious and professional, and the latter doing something akin to a lap dance for the front row of the audience, you could tell that this was going to be a colourful, camp and quite-over-the-top hour of chat. And it was. However, you may notice that I deliberately didn’t use the word ‘funny’. That’s because the entrance was entertaining, but the subsequent fifty-nine minutes just wasn’t.
HAVE THE JOKES DONE A RONNA?
Admittedly, I did laugh at Beverly asking Game of Thrones star Charles Dance if, because he’s an OBE, he has ever had sex with the Queen. I realise that to some, this will be offensive – perhaps those who have been contacting Ofcom about the supposedly racist and Islamophobic content in Citizen Khan will have heard Beverly ask this and choked on their Horlicks but, hey!, I thought it was funny.
I also raised a smile at Ronna saying that the one thing she’d put in Room 101 is Argos. However, I only smiled at this because I in fact work at Argos. If I didn’t, I doubt I’d even remember her saying it.
Apart from these quips, though, it was just a bit tedious and wholly disappointing. Even guest Frank Skinner looked disheartened and regretful about having agreed to have appeared on the show.
Beverly’s constant fidgeting, swaying and repetition of “Yep” was infuriating! It worked well the first couple of times, I suppose, but it very quickly became irritating.
You might expect me to suggest that, because I didn’t really enjoy Beverly’s contribution, it would be better if it was hosted by Ronna alone, but there lies the problem: Ronna is the ‘straight’ character, against her outrageous co-host so, get rid of that co-host, and you only have the ‘straight’ one. Therefore, you’re left with a normal chat show, i.e. not a comedy one. Forgive me for this ludicrous comparison but it would be like Morecambe without Wise.
I understand that the humour in Ronna & Beverly pretty much revolves around the two hosts bouncing off of each other and you can’t have Ronna without Beverly or vice versa. However, for them ‘bouncing off of each other” to work, at least one (or ideally both) of the characters must be funny. But they’re not.
Another problem seems to be the running time: the show seems dragged out. I began watching it thinking it would only be on for half-an-hour, but no: a full hour is the amount of time I had to sit and watch. It was just too long for Chaffin and Danbo to maintain any fast pace and I couldn’t help thinking that my time could be better spent watching something else.
Fingers crossed it improves and this episode was focused on familiarising us with the characters, as opposed to making us laugh. If I’m not convinced by thirty minutes into Monday’s edition, however, I don’t think I’ll bother returning.
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