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Success is a funny old thing; rarely turning up at the most deserving moments. This perhaps explains why The Simpsons enjoyed its greatest ratings at its inception rather than during its glory years or why Little Britain is now BBC1's flagship comedy, despite being a mere shadow of the show it was when it was trapped on a less mainstream channel.

That Mitchell and Webb Look
David Mitchell and Robert Webb are the latest two to suffer from this curious affliction. They've been around for a considerable amount of time and have won critical raves but not overwhelming ratings for the dark, yet hilarious, Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show. Indeed, it was only when they switched to BBC2 and featured in a sketch-show ( That Mitchell and Webb Look) that they truly hit the public consciousness.  

Nowadays, Mitchell and Webb can be found urging us to 'Get a Mac", in between stints in disappointing feature films. And, with a second series of their sketch show to hit TV screens in early 2008, it's time to re-evaluate the first as it reaches DVD.

Feature
With sketch shows, you have three choices; Option one is to populate your programme with a bunch of catch-phrase driven characters and subtly change the set-up for the one-liner each week (think The Fast Show). Alternatively, Option two is to have a bunch of idea-driven isolated sketches (à la Not The Nine O'Clock News). And, finally, there's the route that Mitchell and Webb take; a mix of the two.  

It bodes well for the impending second series that, from the numerous sketches that were obviously filmed, the best make their way to the first few episodes. The hit to miss ratio is tipped firmly towards the former for at least the first half of the series. The duo and their production team clearly know what works and what works slightly less well. Provided that they can learn from this when writing and filming for successive outings, there's every chance that this show could have a strong future.

The duo seem to be at their best when they stray from the catchphrases and recurring characters and concentrate on isolated sketches of surrealism and parody. The first instalment of the incomprehensible, number-based quiz show Numberwang, may be the funniest thing on this disc, but the same basic joke is repeated too many times. Likewise, the two hard-drinking snooker commentators and their rambling monologues (catchphrase: "Oh, and that's a bad miss") quickly outstay their welcome.

That Mitchell and Webb Look
In contrast, sketches featuring the duo spoofing DIY shows (‘Coverage of People Buying a House and then Living in it’) or spinning strange yarns about tribes living in garden centres, are far more successful. Mitchell and Webb are talented comedians but, more importantly, they are good actors and can play things straight when a bit of deadpan is required.

So, while it's a little galling that this lesser show is getting more attention than the superior M&W effort Peep Show, this is still a welcome addition to the sketch show sub-genre. However, the mark of a good sketch show, is whether this momentum can be built upon for that difficult second series...

Video
That Mitchell and Webb Look is presented in anamorphic widescreen and looks nigh-on identical to the original television broadcast. The original source-material may not have been faultless but the transfer is fine. Colours can be a little garish for those scenes shot in the studio, but conversely dull in location shoots.

Audio
Well, you're not expecting 5.1 Surround Sound for a sketch show are you? Sound quality is, nevertheless, fine and dandy for these humble trappings. Dialogue is crisp and clear and background music (an annoyance in many TV shows these days) is not intrusive. Not a disc to stress-test your home theatre set-up but more than adequate.

That Mitchell and Webb Look
Extras
Bloopers are an acquired taste but it's doubtful that even the most passionate fans of fluffs will be enthused by the outtakes present on this disc. There's five minutes worth of them and they're all taken from just two sketches.

There are a few good moments inside a selection of rather flat unseen sketches. This reel is around twenty minutes long and should interest fans of the duo.

By far the best extra on the disc is a thirty-minute documentary made by supporting cast member James Bachman. This is an unpretentious and amusing look at the making of the show with plenty of talking heads and unseen footage.

That Mitchell and Webb Look
Overall
An enjoyable, if not overwhelming, comedy show; the DVD release of That Mitchell and Webb Look should be a no-brainer for fans of the duo. It may not match up to the dizzy heights of Peep Show but seems to have brought the pair to a more mainstream audience -and that's no bad thing. The disc is a little lacking in terms of extra content, but there's enough re-watch value in the six episodes to make this worth investigating.  


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