I feel the format was great. Unfortunately, the execution of it was really, really bad.
There were moments in every episode which made me laugh out loud, but also moments which were just embarrassingly bad. Ie the book case bit, the African corruption interview.
For me, the problems flow through every aspect; the writing, the performances (except Simon and Jennie who were both absolutely perfect) the direction and the editing.
Far too many big set-up ‘gag’s, which just ended up seeming surreal and out of place with the supposedly naturalistic tone of the show. The pacing and timing of delivery was crazily bad, and fluffed nearly every time. I don’t know why they couldn’t have cut one segment on each show and let the studio bits breathe a bit, it seemed like everything was rushing through to get to a set-piece punchline.
The editing and direction are incoherent too, they really should have settled on one vision for the show. Play the live bits 100% straight, keep the off-air bits as they were. As it was it was bizarre, like half way naturalistic ‘magazine show’ editing and half way sitcom cutting away to reaction shots.
I feel that pretty much applies to a lot of post-Iannucci Alan. Back on IAP the direction matched the tone, nowadays with the Gibbons when something weird happens it just feels jarring. I do love the Gibbons though, and as far as I can see from IMDB this was their first directing job. I love what they’ve done with Alan in general.
Also there didn’t seem to be any real arc through the episodes. I think some of the best Partridge is him stuck in a small room with a guest and watching as the relationship degenerates. MMM series one was the high water mark for this, I think. So, given room over a series his relationship with Jennie, like his relationship with Simon in MMM, should have been amazing to watch fall to pieces.
But it just seemed random, one moment he was all puffed up, one moment he was meek and subservient, one moment he was belittling and angry. Then it all breaks down at the very start of the last ep over something that happened off screen.
I hope it gets a second series to hopefully sort out the problems, finesse the script over at least another draft etc.
However: Noel having cats hiss at him in the studio when he’s talking to contestants was worth all the shit bits.