Belfast Telegraph

With Friends like these ...

By Gail Walker

So farewell Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Joey and the blonde dopey one. C4's announcement that they (and associated E4 channels) were dropping non-stop repeats of the escapades of those beautiful but quirky New Yorkers can only be greeted with hurrahs of relief.

Apart from being a constant reminder of how dumpy and dreary our real friends are, this TV equivalent of Groundhog Day wearied beyond belief. First thing in the morning before heading to work? There was Friends. Throwing a sicky and can't be bothered with Loose Women? There was Friends. Not going out on Friday night? There was Friends.

It may be okay to watch Ken Stott for the umpteenth time looking bruised and melancholic as yet another Edinburgh prozzie meets a grisly end but the nightmarishly endless repetition of a tiny handful of ‘comedy classics’ — Porridge, Fawlty Towers, Frasier, The Simpsons, The Good Life — represents a minor act of cultural vandalism. They just can't take it.

Not only do the schedulers keep other shows off screen (when oh when will C4 repeat their classic After Dark talk show?) but they're undermining the reputation of these supposed milestones.

Exactly how many times can you watch, say, Only Fools and Horses before the laughter withers on the lips and affection slides into indifference and, eventually, downright hostility. Ten? Twenty? And we're way beyond that.

Comedy simply can't take that kind of exposure. The once happy viewer begins to notice tiny inconsistencies with plot lines and character development which drain away all conviction and belief, like how Basil Fawlty's pie doesn't hit Bernard Cribbens squarely in the face; how Del Boy is not so much a rough diamond, more a big wobbly blancmange made of catchphases and cheap sentiment.

Surely, it would only be an act of kindness for the TV bosses to give 'em a break and give us a break.

So goodbye Friends,you won't really be missed. Now what on earth are we going to do about My B****y Family?

Belfast Telegraph

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