Those lucky enough to reside within range of a BBC Two signal last night, hopefully, saw a brilliant episode from the new season of the genius British comedy series, Lead Balloon, starring Jack Dee. In an apples and oranges kind of scenario, this reminded me of last years “Rope” episode from Psychoville in that it was not only innovative television, but pushed the boundaries of an ongoing series from a creative standpoint to a level that showcases the creative genius of the series.
To me, this is another example of why British comedy is superior to their American counterparts. Sadly, pushing the envelope for an American comedy, these days, is bringing in a major star for a bit part that tends to be more of a jump the shark move than a product of creative genius.
While last nights episode does call upon the brilliant talents of the likes of Robbie Coltrane, the entire episode featured only Rick Spleen (Jack Dee) and Coltrane as a deranged prisoner, Donald, for the entire thirty minute episode.
Seems as though Rick accepts funding from the local council and reluctantly agrees to teach a Stand-up Comedy Workshop in Belford Prison. Unfortunately, but predictably, it turns out to be one of Rick’s worst gigs. Rick is taken hostage, trapped in the prison library by the knife-wielding prisoner, Donald, who proceeds to ask for Rick’s review of his own stand-up routine, which turns out to be entirely true stories.
While Donald is charming, he has a deep-rooted hatred of liars which, if you know Rick, well, you know where this is going. If you didn’t catch this episode, find it. For those in the U.S., Lead Balloon should be coming to public television stations beginning in early 2012.