TV episodes review: Horrible Histories: 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 (2011), directed by Dominic Brigstocke, Steve Connelly and/or Chloe Thomas
Originally I thought oh, I could have a Horrible Histories week here on the blog, celebrating the new series and all, but that has failed. Basically because for that idea to work, I would’ve had to have seen one new episode a day, which I’ve not been able to do because Tuesday is our roleplaying night, and so on. So instead, here’s a catch-up post about the first three episodes!
I get the feeling that this series has a slightly higher pace, there are more clips, or at least they have fewer of the same kind in one episode. It feels as if we see the screens with “Terrible Tudors”, “Slimy Stuarts” and the rest more often. Or maybe it’s just me. The new ones for this series are “Fabulous French”, “Angry Aztecs” and “Nasty Knights”.
Episode one had a French nobleman (Jim Howick) who drove his friends and visitors crazy with his “hilarious” pranks, using “You’ve been Artois’d” (a play on “You’ve Been Punk’d”) as a catchphrase. Not to my personal taste, it was too over-the-top. In episode three, the French Revolution Report reported how many heads got chopped off, as well as some soldiers that tried invading Wales and were captured by a group of women. That worked better.
There are a couple of new sketch themes as well, parodies of popular TV shows. These are great. The mere title Invasion Invasion Invasion (3.3) had me giggling and it was definitely a Location Location Location property hunting type show.
“King Vortigern is willing to give you this island off the coast of Kent for free.”
“Meh, it’s a bit small. We’d prefer Kent.”
“Oh yes, Kent is lovely. Which part?”
“All of it.”
Personal favourite, however, is Historical Masterchef, and the parodies of Masterchef presenters and judges John Torode and Greg Wallace are spot on. So far, we’ve seen an Aztec showing off some dodgy cooking ingredients and a woman from the Stuart era (Martha Howe-Douglas) who tried impressing the judges by presenting them with pieces of fruit we take for granted nowadays.
One of the things I’ve looked forward to most with the new series is the singing. There’s one song in every episode, and these are great. Episode one had a song about highwayman Dick Turpin (Mathew Baynton), done in a style similar to Stand And Deliver by Adam and the Ants.
Episode two had a song featuring the whole cast (more or less) about all the kings and queens since the time of William the Conqueror. I loved it! A great way of learning things is by learning them as a song. Animaniacs is a great example of this being used. Learn a song, learn all the 50 states and their capital cities. Or US presidents. Or parts of the brain. And so on. It makes remembering a lot of things so much easier. However, it’s a bit difficult to keep up with the lyrics, but give it enough listens and I’m sure we’ll get there! (UPDATE 2021: We did. I use this song a lot.)
Episode three saw a rock song featuring long-haired, bearded men jumping around in kilts – fronted by William Wallace (Ben Willbond), singing about being a Scottish rebel. I’m just distracted by the long-haired, bearded men jumping around in kilts, me. *cough*
Makes me wonder if they’ll be doing any Irish history too at some point. One can but hope. I know they’re not going further ahead in time than World War II at the moment, but I mean before then. (Speaking of Irish history, Fergal Keane’s excellent Story of Ireland is shown on Monday evenings at 7pm on BBC2 at the moment.) Then again, most of Irish history isn’t funny; it’s more sad, tragic and devastating. Still, if they can find the comedy in two World Wars, there’s bound to be a giggle or two in there somewhere.
So, verdict on the new series is: fantabulous! History really shouldn’t be this much fun, it’s practically indecent.