England, though its status has fallen from all-powerful global dominator to minor worldwide menace that hates hugs, continues to produce the cream of absurdist humor. I suppose America, third place just after Canada, can only hope to achieve dominance in this category once our empire falls and Texas renews calls for its own independence. Until that time, we Americans must content ourselves by gazing longingly across the Atlantic (or the internet) at the small nation whose glorious culture we’ve bastardized.
Of late, England has produced series after series of awkward yet intelligently goofy sitcoms that Hollywood inevitably cannibalizes. The web series The Brian Jackson Show is firmly of this tradition.
Like his home country, Brian Jackson (Pietro Herrera) is a minor menace. I couldn’t say if he was ever held power over vast dominions, but he certainly leaves a noticeable trail of destruction. Presumably in his late-twenties, Jackson rents a room in a suburban house owned by an old schoolmate, Tony (George Young), who runs a startup temp agency. Brian’s bedroom, aside from being an incredible shrine to immaturity, serves as a sort of laboratory of ill-considered schemes. Tony’s dim Scottish stepbrother, Robin (Jamie McMillan) also lives in the house and Tony’s girlfriend, Crystal (Gemma Harvey) just moved in, significantly altering the dynamic.
As a proper series opener and window onto their limited mental capacity, the boys do battle in Hungry Hungry Hippos to determine who must sleep on the floor when Crystal’s parents visit and occupy one of the rooms.
The first episode is a great introduction to the characters, but it does have the dragging storyline and stale-jokes-growing-pains of many a new series. In episode 2, the writing really beings to bloom.
If you don’t ruin your monitor and/or keyboard at about the 18 minute mark in a hysterical fit of laughter, I think you need to set aside some time for serious self-reflection. Many people mistakenly think they possess a sense of humor, but that scene (and really, this episode in general) provides an actual scientific test to see if you have one. Writer/director Mark Marlow may be able to claim that he’s an awful painter, but he cannot claim to be not funny. As an added bonus there is the possibility that viewers with oddball sexual proclivities could even mine this episode for material. But even if you’re not a weirdo in the bedroom, it’s still 29:58 of sheer joy to be watched repeatedly.
The downside of producing such a brilliant episode is that it sets the bar tremendously high for any subsequent installments. Episode three has it’s moments, but can’t live up to its immediate predecessor. The plot is typically complex – Brian’s fixation on take-out Chinese and half-baked money schemes get him in trouble with an old schoolmate’s wife – causing no end to humorous uncomfortableness, but there are a few straight-up “huh?” moments that put a damper on things. Still, it’s better than most television programs I watch on this side of the Pond.
At the moment these three installments of The Brian Jackson Show are the only ones to have aired. Another three are scheduled to go live beginning April 18. While the show may be long by most web serial standards (they run just shy of a half hour each), they’re in no way arduous or difficult to sit through, even for an addle-brained American like myself. Tune in at TheBrianJacksonShow.com.