You may like it. You may not like it. You may understand or you may not. But the fact is, this show is a brilliant piece of writing. I haven’t reviewed the first two seasons but I remember thoroughly enjoying it. I read this season, Season 3, is the final one. Sad. So here goes my thoughts.
W1A- I still don’t know what it stands for- is a mockumentary, a satire, a parody of BBC and the insider happenings. The show follows a team of people, their meetings, discussions and outcomes on various popular incidents in the entertainment world. The show is narrated by David Tennant in a documentary tone, and the narration is as funny and hilarious as the show itself. The heart of this show is to present how ridiculous and nonsensical a corporate set up can get. There are way too many meaningless teams and a Head for each one. I mean- Head of Values, Head of Better, Head of Inclusivity, Head of Diversity- and each one wondering what their exact roles are.
I love Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville), Head of Values. He is the only sane guy in this dynamic and interesting group of insanity. He is mostly unheard but the one to solve the issue at the end. Siobhan, Head of Brand from Perfect Curve and later Fun Media, has to be the most exciting character ever. She is sharp and pointless. Her ideas are bizarre in the name of creativity. I still remember her and her team’s idea to change the BBC logo to mere 3 lines and they gave a very serious explanation to support this strange idea. The competition between Anna and Lucy just gets better everytime. Neil is the underdog in the group but the one with the best one-liners. Will with his, “Yeah…cool…yeah” is adorable.
The show’s pulse is its writing. Just the way the meetings take place with everyone just muttering, “Right”, “Brilliant”, “Hurrah”, “Fabulous” without listening to a word- is probably how conferences are conducted nowadays. Just lines like the one by Anna, “This is about identifying what we do most of the best and finding fewer ways of doing more of it less.” I mean what is that! But if you actually sit and dissect the lines, it does hold some deep meaning. Initiatives like Renewal Team, More of Less, BBC Me- It’s about You- each one of the storylines better the other.
I wait for crisis in the show and how the team sits for a Damage Limitation Meeting. In Season 3, the best crisis has to be with how the new automatic subtitle software mispronounced Jules as Jews and the subsequent media roar. I couldn’t stop laughing when the software named Maggie Smith as Baggy Smith. Naming current shows like Strictly, and the stars involved makes the show even more interesting. And the Forecast App! Wonderful!
The silent discos, On my bike, uproar over cutting down BBC orchestra, the plot on the cross dressed football analyser, new roles like Head of Empowerment and Head of Purpose- each one of them has excellent moments involved. Comparing Ben and Jerry to Ant and Dec was hilarious.
Few more lines to quote.
“No one watches Television anymore, like no one. Get over it. It’s over. It’s not an overstatement. It’s an Uber statement.” -Siobhan. Reaction from others is same as yours-“WHAT?”
“Given the strong reactions provoked by Ryan’s Match of the Day appearance, and given the complex and sensitive issues involved, the problem for BBC is they don’t know what to do.” – Narrator.
“What are we actually going to do when we actually run out of time?” – Tracy
Siobhan: “We need to prioritize Plan B”.
Neil: We don’t have a Plan A, stupid.
Siobhan: “That’s why we need to focus on Plan B.”
The show also showcases on the huge number of things that had to be concentrated on for the running of the network. It’s interesting to see how brand and marketing works. The location being the actual BBC office, it adds a lot of credibility. I mean those chairs! The actors are absolutely marvelous. It’s difficult to perform in a show like this where the lines have absolutely no meaning, yet you need to deliver them with utter seriousness.
Many people might not get this show. Also, I wouldn’t say it’s a hilarious show either. It’s just BRILLIANT! I couldn’t stop admiring and being astonished by the writing by John Morton. I really wish for more seasons.
This show is a joy to watch. Don’t miss it!
Number of episodes: 8
Atypical is an innocent and endearing tale about Sam, an 18 year old boy who is on the autistic spectrum. During one of his sessions with his therapist, Sam divulges his wish to have a girlfriend and is extremely surprised when his young therapist encourages the idea. The first season of this beautiful light comedy follows Sam and his amazing methodical ways to acquire a girlfriend.
The best thing about this show is it doesn’t expect the audience to sympathize Sam and his condition but just to accept him for what he is. Sam is autistic but very intelligent. He is passionate about Penguins and Antarctica and can speak non-stop on the subject. He has problems socializing and is troubled with overly noise. Apart from this, he is normal. And yes, he is radically truthful.
The family is a normal middle class family. Sam’s dating mission sends his mother, Elsa into intense restlessness. Having always been the go to person in the family, Elsa feels used and left out when Sam and the rest begin to lead their life on their own not wanting her help, sending her into having her own affair. I loved how the show portrayed different dynamics in the relationships within the family.
Sam and his sister Casey are amazing. Casey is so protective of Sam and loves him to the extent of sacrificing her own goals. She knows the family revolves around Sam and his needs. Yet, there are times when she feels her wishes and dreams are compromised for him. This scenario was beautifully written and executed. Sam and his father have a very interesting relationship. Doug has always had troubles connecting to Sam. There is a visible distance. But when Sam embarks on his girlfriend mission, he turns to Doug for guidance which surprises and excites him. Wonderfully, he takes the situation seriously and really wishes Sam could succeed in his mission.
A must mention is Casey’s boyfriend, Evan. Somehow, Evan seemed to be the most matured guy both in his relationship with Casey and his understanding of Sam. Also, not to forget is Paige, Sam’s trial girlfriend. Her understanding and handling of Sam is marvelous, especially her idea of having a silent prom.
All said and done, Atypical works for the most part. The part it falters is in the handling of emotions in the scenes. Every time, I feel a void in the scene. Is it the writing or is it the actors, I am not sure. You don’t feel completely involved in the scenes. You enjoy them yet it is forgettable. The track of Elsa’s affair is boring and irritating. You don’t feel for Elsa and her needs. Equally irritating is Sam’s friend Zahid. It’s good that Sam is having good friends, but Zahid is extremely irritating and is forced to be funny.
Keir Gilchrist as Sam is amazing. He brings a lot of life to the character. Brigette as Casey is wonderful. The rest of the cast are good enough but not fantastic.
Atypical is a feel good show. It’s not perfect nevertheless there are loads of moments which you would thoroughly enjoy. It gives a different take on autism and at the end, it is very lovable.
I feel immense distress in writing this review. I did my best to postpone reviewing this show, even skip reviewing it. I was in denial to be honest. How can one of the best written comedy shows in the history of Indian Television come up with such a poor script and structure! I remember being on cloud nine when the season 2 of Sarabhai was announced, especially with almost every show currently on Indian TV being either disgusting or bizarre. Hatsoff Productions have always given us magnificent shows in the past with the likes of Khichdi and Baa Bahoo aur Baby. Not to forget the first season of Sarabhai itself. I believed there was no way the writers would mess with the cult status of this show. But I was proved terribly wrong.
Almost everything about Sarabhai Take 2 is wrong. Season 1 worked extremely well for several reasons- Maya’s high class attitude, Monisha’s middle class antics and Rosesh’s weirdly entertaining poems. These three factors were given in balanced proportions which paved way for the huge success of the show. Take 2 completely messed with this balance. We had an overdose of Rosesh for one. Every scene of his had a poem which seemed to have been written in such haste without any thought. Jasmine, Rosesh’s girlfriend, has to be one of the most irritating characters written by the Hatsoff writers ever. In the beginning, she did seem entertaining with her funny English and giving a strong fight against Maya. But later, it became too much to bear. The simplicity and innocence of Season 1 was a complete miss in Take 2. The story line was never funny. Maya Vs Monisha didn’t have the earlier charisma. Maya was so preoccupied with Jasmine that Maya Vs Monisha took a back seat. Indravadhan was wasted. I missed his one-liners. Sahil looked helpless. His character seemed so different. I couldn’t see the purpose behind including Arnab in the family. He didn’t make any difference to the story line. Only Dushyant and Fufaji were enjoyable.
One of the major success factors of Sarabhai was its situational comedy, clean comedy. Take 2 boasted itself to be clean comedy but took high liberty in using double meaning lines especially from Jasmine. The show being a web series, there is no issue of scrutiny by censor board, yet, these jokes damages the image of Sarabhai. It’s painful to see the wonderful characters reduced to such jokes when they are capable of much more.
Another con for Take 2 is it’s continuous story line instead of it being episodic. I give it. It was an experiment but it didn’t work. I loved the apartments in season 1. The apartments in Take 2 didn’t feel like home. I know it is unfair to compare but it is also inevitable. I felt the show tried very hard to be modern, to be contemporary which was unnecessary in my point of view. They could have stuck to normal family incidents.
The actors were in form, no questions there. They performed their best sticking to their characters. I wish they had a better script.
Having said all the above, when compared to all the awful shows on TV, Sarabhai Take 2 is still watchable. It’s different. It’s online. And there is no meaningless melodrama. It falters badly only when compared to its legacy.
I hope the team learns from their mistakes and give us a better show the next time.
I have to admit, I didn’t have the greatest first impressions of this show. It looked like any other comedy show based around disability with no boundary for insensitivity. The first episode was too loud and the characters looked superficial. Yet there was something, some factor, some emotion which drew me towards it. Something was definitely pulling me to continue watching this show. I couldn’t figure out what at the beginning, but as the episodes passed, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the show and loving all the characters.
Speechless revolves around the DiMeos, a very dynamic dysfunctional family. JJ, 16, is the eldest son of Jimmy and Maya, is disabled. He is wheel chair bound and cannot speak. He uses a board of words attached to his wheel chair and uses a laser pointer to select the words which he wants to speak. The entire family adjusts their life for JJ. They relocate a lot to find the perfect school for him. Maya, the mother, is loud. She gets her way through by shouting. At the school, she finds Kenneth, whom she appoints to be JJ’s voice. Then starts the roller coaster ride of numerous funny situations and enjoyable unpredictable reactions of the characters which turns the show into a perfect family entertainer. This show, just like I had said for Life in Pieces, isn’t hilarious. But there are so many funny moments mixed with heart-warming family moments which transforms this show to be an extraordinary one. Whatever factors irritate in the first episode turns out to be a fantastic standout features of the characters.
JJ’s disability is definitely the central theme of the show but it is handled with so much care and sensitivity. Full credit to the writers to have depicted it with so much respect yet everything seems normal. The show brilliantly portrays how a family with a disabled member leads a normal life. They don’t sit and lament everyday over their child’s weakness. JJ is such an inspiration. He has accepted his handicap and looks at other things that will make his life happy. He wants to do all the things he can. He doesn’t need pity but knows he is always seen with sympathy. The parents are mostly caught in a dilemma. They don’t want to make JJ feel bad but they don’t want to see him hurt. All these emotions are portrayed so subtly that they come and go, we feel and move on.
Jimmy DiMeo, the father, is a matured man. He handles his dysfunctional family so well. He understands his kids really well and does his best to fulfil their wishes. Maya DiMeo, the mother, is an over protective, loud, attention seeking woman, who argues her way through every problem. Initially, Maya is really irritating, but you get used to it. The mother in her is always on the lookout for her children. JJ DiMeo- I have said a lot about him. He is a happy boy in spite of being a special child. Ray DiMeo, the middle child, is a hyper and stressful boy who becomes nervous all the time. He, like his father, is very matured, more matured for his age. His wants and needs have to be compromised several times for JJ, but after the initial sadness, he is happy for his brother. Dylan, the youngest of the three, is an angry little girl, full of rage and fury. She talks very fast and makes very quick decisions. The three siblings have a wonderful bonding. They give in for each other and care for one another’s happiness. Kenneth, JJ’s voice, is an easy going fun guy. He is confused about his job initially but later understands that he just have to repeat loud what JJ points in his board. Through Kenneth, JJ gets a buddy. In due course, Kenneth becomes like family. Kenneth doesn’t treat JJ as special. He becomes more like his guru, teaching him the realities of life.
The story mostly revolves only around these 6 characters. A situation and loads of confusion. The actors are fantastic, the kids especially. It’s purely a family show. The writers make sure to project the thoughts of the kids wonderfully well. We can see what kind of ideas and fears run in those little minds. Just like adults have their worries and concerns, kids have their own stress too. Kudos to the writers.
I am absolutely loving this show and look forward to it every week. Surprisingly, this show doesn’t air every week and I have no idea about the reason. Nevertheless, do watch this show. It has its heart at the right place.
Seasons: 2 (Ongoing)
I am a HUGE fan of FRIENDS. I love it for the beautiful characters and the wonderful emotions they displayed (Sad to use the past tense L) on screen. The lovely bonding, their day to day struggles in life and their determination to overcome every challenge with the support of their loved ones was what made FRIENDS a supremely memorable show. It still rules our hearts even though it ended like 12 years ago. After FRIENDS, I found great difficultly to find another show which held the same emotions. I did watch How I Met Your Mother and quite liked it but not as much as FRIENDS. Just my personal opinion. Anyways…After watching pilots of many comedy shows and rejecting them instantly, I found Life in Pieces really refreshing. The characters are relatable, the jokes are good (not hilarious though) and the packaging is really nice and different.
Life in Pieces – “One Big Family – Four Short Stories” – That’s the tagline. The show is about the Shorts family. Every episode has four stories which are not connected in anyway. I really liked this idea. A small situation is taken and the characters are dropped in to see how they react. There are no continuous story lines of any sort. Let me get into the characters directly as they are what the show is all about. There isn’t any story to talk about LOL
- John and Joan Short- The elder couple. Parents of Matt, Heather and Greg. John is a retired Pilot and Joan is a Therapist. They got divorced in 1980 but are still together. They are in a phase of absolutely freedom and enjoyment. All their kids have settled in life and they are in complete peace. John is mischievous and is always up to doing something weird. Joan is more of a disciplinarian and little old fashioned. They do make a fun couple but at times it becomes too clichéd and cringe-worthy, but not always. A scene where Joan consoles Jen during her miscarriage is one of the most heart warming scenes in the show.
- Matt Short and Colleen – Matt is the eldest son of John and Joan. He is a graphic designer. Once married, he falls in love with Colleen and resigns his job as their office doesn’t support colleagues dating. Impressed Colleen but… He lives in his parents’ garage and doesn’t have a regular income. Colleen breaks her engagement with Chad, her roommate. Matt and Chad have some funny confrontations but it becomes boring later. Good, Chad leaves after few episodes. Matt and Colleen make a very good matured couple. They are more like life companions. Colleen’s interactions with Matt’s family are very nice. I particularly liked how she gets the family to sing carols when John feels low missing his friends during Christmas.
- Heather and Tim Hughes- Heather is John and Joan’s daughter. Home maker. Her life revolves around her family. Tim is a doctor and a fun loving guy, wife fearing too. They have three kids- Tyler (18), Samantha (14 appx) and Sophie (10 appx). Heather and Tim struggles to grow along with their kids. My favourite is Sophie. She is like more matured than her parents. Her questions are so truthful. Heather is one of my favourite characters. She is the go-to person for almost everyone in the show. She can get hyper but that makes things more enjoyable. Her banter with her mother is something to look forward too.
- Greg Short and Jen- My favourite couple. New parents. Their stories are always funny and real. Their struggle to handle the baby is hilarious- dividing tasks among themselves, staying awake through the night, fighting who should get up to handle the crying baby etc. These situations and the way they support each other are very good to see. Jen is the daughter-in-law of the house but the bonding between Heather and Jen and how they get together during some fun plans are wonderful. Greg is the softie. He listens to everyone and is a mother’s boy. He is mostly caught between Jen and Joan and his dilemma is so much fun. But at the end of each case- either Jen or Joan give in.
Life in Pieces isn’t completely “clean”. There are some situations which might not be appropriate for a very young audience. Some sequences could be considered crude or insensitive too. But which show doesn’t have the above? It’s impossible to have clean comedy nowadays. Hence, ignoring the portions which I found “unnecessary”, I am really enjoying this show. I love the fact that the family are so together and share all their happy and sad moments. There are some wonderful relationships which win above all the comedy. This show isn’t hilarious. The characters don’t have funny mannerisms or catch lines. The dialogues aren’t witty enough. Yet, this show has very good family moments, interesting situations and stories and fun filled incidents which makes the show very pleasing to watch. The actors are all so good. Not one is weak compared to the other. If the writers could work harder and bring more witty lines and make the show hilarious rather than just fun, the show has a very long way to go. I have read a lot of comparisons made with Modern Family, but since I haven’t watched that show, I can’t comment much.
If you are looking for a family drama but with no intense story lines, this show will fit perfectly.
P.S: First few episodes aren’t impressive but the show gets better after 3 episodes.