Over the past few years, new Christmas rituals have entered my life. I find it easily the most annoying of them, it far outperforms Cranberry Sauce (I mean, what does it even do) and Whamageddon. I refer, of course, to the duty that rests upon me to revise Mrs. Brown’s childrenwho never disappoints me with his abject poverty of ambition.
But this year, in honor of the recently departed Victor Louis Smith, brilliant satirist and the finest television critic of our time, I thought I’d try to introduce Mrs. Brown’s children A bit of a re-evaluation. You may recall that Lewis Smith was not only a rare combination of eloquent, profane, and outright sinister, but an original thinker, and from his point of view Mrs. Brown’s children falls far from unanimous. He praised it for, in his words, every scene in the “unabashedly rebellious comedy… filled with innocent joy. It’s hard to understand why critics have accused the show of misogyny, homophobia, and even racism”.
That was a few years ago, to be fair, and in the meantime sitcoms are more awake than ever. That, in my opinion, is welcome, and doesn’t detract from what Brendan O’Carroll’s creation, Agnes Loretta Brown, is about — bad jokes, innuendo, self-conscious bad jokes, and a deconstruction of TV conventions, which includes keeping bloopers, flashbacks and routinely breaking the fourth wall. As Lewis Smith remarked with rare exaggeration, Mrs. Brown’s children of a certain bristish quality.
It’s still not very funny, though. In the spirit of Christmas, I’ll give O’Carroll some credit for a particularly clever dialogue between Mamie and her grandson Bono (Jimmy O’Carroll), who is a typical student of Greta Thunberg (“Greta Thornbeard” to Mamie). When the boy accuses Mrs. B and Jelk of being responsible for climate change, Mamie reminds him that in her day, people drank water from the tap, not plastic bowls; that pop bottles are constantly being reused; And that they dried their laundry using “solar and wind energy”, that is, on the line instead of a supercharged electric dryer.
This year’s plot is also a bit more original than usual, if odd. Unlucky in love, middle-aged daughter Kathy (Jennifer Gibney, real-life wife of Brendan O’Carroll) begins dating a strange, even sinister Englishman, who Agnes’ friend Winnie McGugan (Eilish O’Carroll) thinks “might be a vampire”. In fact, he has a strange way about him, with a liking for horror movies and having two creepy kids, though why they chose an Englishman “Boris” with so much superficial charm to be the epitome of devious demonic evil is, of course, anyone’s guess.
Cathy’s new chapter certainly elevates Agnes, if I may use the kind of font the show-maker might have published. Boris is played by the always excellent Phil Cornwell, with a menacing subtlety rarely hinted at Mrs. Brown’s children, and I’m really looking forward to learning more about this mysterious character in the New Year’s Day issue. And that’s not something I ever thought I’d say Mrs. Brown’s children.
However, I didn’t laugh much, and sitcom tropes of cliché and weak lines just don’t work for me, even with a strong dose of Christmas cheer. Here, for example – just trying to laugh at this exchange:
Buster: “It’s a magical Christmas tree.”
Mami: Really? Magical Christmas tree? “
Buster: “Yeah. You know what that means?”
Mami: “Yes. It was stolen from a magician.”
And that’s the kind of hangover the show overwhelmingly consists of. It’s not stupid to point out that it doesn’t make sense, even on a surreal level. Slapstick is better, and the main highlight is Agnes riding Grandad as Seabiscuit, which needs no further elaboration, I trust.
I watched people laugh and laugh at them Mrs. Brown’s children, and I can’t argue with its incredibly enduring and wild popularity (it started on radio 30 years ago and has been a staple of Christmas TV since 2012). It successfully defied the critics, beating the caustic and decisive Lewis Smith, which is quite an achievement and should be taken seriously. You made an effort to impress me, you really did, and this year it’s better than most. I gave it another star this time – but that’s the lot. Sorry Victor.
#Browns #Boys #worse #Cranberry #Sauce #Whamageddon #Review