TV review: Uncle, Mom, House of Fools

Andy (Nick Helm) and Errol (Elliot Speller-Gillott) in Uncle


Three new sitcoms featuring the comedic talents of Nick Helm, Chuck Lorre and Vic & Bob

If ever there was evidence that you should quit while you’re not as ahead as you once were, House of Fools (BBC Two, Tue, 10pm ●●) provides it by the bucketload. The inexorable decline of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer was pretty apparent during their recent online-only sketch affair, for which the description of tepid would have constituted a rave review. And now they’re back with a sitcom that almost defiles the memory of their greatest hits (Shooting Stars and Catterick for two) and drags down the normally excellent Matt Berry with them.

It’s full of the standard Vic ‘n’ Bob nonsense, but time has simply not been kind to their brand of non-sequitur surrealism, and you can’t help but long for the days of the dove from above and Les Facts. House of Fools is oovavoo indeed.

From the executively produced mind of Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory) comes Mom (ITV2, Mon, 9pm ●●●) and a studio audience who suffer paroxysms of laughter roughly every 25–30 seconds of each episode’s duration. Still, it does have a decent premise (a mother and her daughter are both recovering alcoholics who try to be supportive of their granddaughter / daughter who is set to follow in their footsteps and become an all-too young parent). As the seasoned veteran of the family, Allison Janney (still best known as The West Wing’s beloved press secretary CJ) is a delight but it’s unlikely even her small-screen appeal will be strong enough to keep a neutral viewer on board.

Thank the blazes, then, for Uncle (BBC Three, Mon, 10pm ●●●●). Nick Helm plays the titular suicidal Andy who is temporarily dragged out of his misery to reluctantly look after his 12-year-old nephew, Errol. After an initial stand-off, the pair use their equal status as outsiders to forge an unlikely bond. Helm successfully channels the less bombastic side of his stand-up character to portray a loveable loser and the overall effect is curiously moving, as well as intermittently hilarious. Perhaps he’ll have lost it in 20 years’ time, but for now, let’s just enjoy a comedian approaching his prime.

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