It’s Kevin didn’t quite go out on a high, but episode six was slightly above the series’ usually low standard. There was a decent amount of okay sketches, and a few that were actually quite good. Maybe half of the show I enjoyed, and while 50/50 is still a poor hit-rate, it’s better than it has been most weeks.
One good sketch about the invention of coupons illustrated what this show could have been with better writing. Kevin Eldon and Adam Buxton put in two funny performances, Buxton as the inventor of a perpetual motion machine, and Eldon as a French king misconstruing the inventor’s idea. The acting was great, with Buxton jittering about nervously as Eldon haughtily ripped up his blueprint: ‘What is this; is it a tiny mouse? No, it is a coupon.’
The crucial thing about the acting though, is that it aided the joke and the premise of the sketch. It didn’t, as many sketches in It’s Kevin have done (see the 1980s nurse sketch this episode), build the entire skit around performance. And there were little jokes spread throughout the sketch; it didn’t rely entirely on the punchline or premise.
I also liked the sketch about ‘Standing up Saleem’ who quickly became ‘Sitting down Saleem,’ and the foster ghost sketch made good use of the show’s world and inventive directing. Speaking of which, the directing throughout the series has been really good and has played a huge role in keeping the show interesting despite the often substandard writing.
Then there were the poor sketches. In one, Eldon played a fictional man from the north of England. They’ve done this sketch in nearly every episode, and it has been almost the exact same joke each time. I’ve always had a problem with recurring sketches that cross episodes, because usually there is no difference in the joke week-to-week. Monty Python didn’t do that and instead stressed originality. Sometimes I feel like Python ripped up the sketch show rule book so that every other show since could piece it back together bit by bit, with a few notable exceptions. That said, I know most people enjoy these types of recurring sketches – same jokes every week and all – so maybe it’s just a personal bugbear.
The rest of the sketches in episode six were poor to okay. The sketch with Bertrand Russell on a 1950s TV show was nothing but a weak premise, while the ‘thousand bums’ encyclopaedia was a little funny. The episode ended with a song from a folk band with a Dubstep addition that was both funny and enjoyable to listen to. And then Eldon signed off, and It’s Kevin ended.
In my review of the first episode of It’s Kevin, I said I ‘far prefer any show which attempts to be original and fails sometimes, to one which treads well-worn ground and remains consistently mediocre.’ It’s Kevin was, sad to say, consistently mediocre, but it did strive to be different and original, and to create a show that lasted long in the memory and which wasn’t just a collection of jokes randomly strung together.
The show succeeded in that aim, and it will stay with me for a while after its end. I watched every episode, because it was interesting and fun at times, and it was better than most shows on TV – although most shows on TV are terrible.
It was also, though, very poorly written at times. Many sketches had weak premises, which are a problem, but a problem made even worse when the sketches have nothing beyond the premise. The show leaned very heavily on absurdity, using it as a crutch, and to get out of sketches. It was, to put it bluntly, kind of lazy at times. And I realise that Eldon has a love of the absurd, but I still think that it was used to paper over cracks in the writing.
Eldon himself is an outstanding and very funny comic actor. He can elevate a sketch with just a funny face or the delivery of a line. But that wasn’t enough in the end to make It’s Kevin anything more than an okay but consistently disappointing sketch show. If it comes back for a second series I won’t be annoyed or anything but I’m not going to mourn if it’s quietly killed off. I look forward to seeing Kevin Eldon in the future, in the work of others and in his own stuff too, but not in It’s Kevin.
- ‘It’s the last show of the series and this week, quite frankly, I am spoiling myself rotten. And why not? It’s only your money.’
- ‘Just chilling out to some Dubstep…ahhh, Dubstep.’
- ‘Fear plus time equals fun.’