Robbie Coltrane in Lead Balloon brilliance


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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a-NamJ2I0g

  • TomTonner

    The prisoner’s name is Donald, not David.

    • http://tellyspotting.org Bill Young

      @Tom: Thanks for the catch. Had it right 2 out of 3 times mentioned, but must have had a brain freeze that third time. Did you see ep? If so, what did you think of it?

  • http://www.enidhuttgallery.com Tess

    It’s strange, I’ve actually found this 4th series of Lead Balloon to be quite bad. I think that Rick is more horrible and dislikeable than he’s ever been, and the whole feeling of the show is just very miserable! But it does seem I’m on my own in this opinion.
    The Robbie Coltrane episode didn’t have any laughs for me, although it was interesting to watch. It did seem like more of a drama and another sign to me that Lead Balloon is dropping like a… well you know what I mean :)
    I wouldn’t put American comedy down so much though – there are some real gems. My favourite being Malcolm in the Middle :) However, the ‘Friends’ style stuff is just diabolical!

  • Steve

    I agree with you Tess I thought this whole series was pretty poor. The writing and jokes seemed half hearted and the same can be said of the acting, it seemed like most of the cast didnt really want to be there. Its a shame as I have been a big fan of the previous series and was looking forward to this for a long time.
    The way the series ended Im pretty sure we`ve seen the last of this show.

    • http://tellyspotting.org Bill Young

      @Tess, @Steve: am hearing the same sentiments, sorry to say, from a number of people that have been big LB fans over the years. Steve, I believe you’re correct in that we’ve seen the last of Rick Spleen.