TV Highlights

The Spoils Before Dying

FOX - 10.30pm

Who's in it?

Michael Kenneth Williams – the raspy-voiced star of The Wire and Boardwalk Empire – was perfect in the role of a wry jazz musician, while Will Ferrell was a hoot as the burger-scoffing genius artiste Eric Jonrosh. It’s just a pity about the script.

In a nutshell

Last year, Will Ferrell and a galaxy of unlikely A-listers got together for an opulent television comedy-drama-thing called The Spoils of Babylon. And, frankly, it was rubbish. But rubbish in a really classy, well-crafted, extravagant way. It was a parody of classic miniseries like The Thorn Birds and Rich Man, Poor Man – ie, shows that only your mum or nan will remember, and will certainly have no meaning whatsoever to the target demographic of millennial hipsters.

So, um: why bother? Sadly, this follow-up has the exact same problem of not knowing what the heck it’s FOR. Again, we have a beautiful looking production. A parody of pulp noirs, it certainly looks impeccable, and the ravishing title sequence in the jazz club could have been a legitimate noir opening. But the jokes were fatally few and far between – something like this needs a fast flurry of gags, a la Airplane or Naked Gun or Touch of Cloth, but we didn’t get them. We got lots of gorgeous scenes and meandering dialogue, and the occasional joke-bomb to wake us out of our reverie. So, like we said about the first show: why bother?

What's the verdict?

Bearing all the signs of a vanity project (lots of celebs, lots of production values, and the sense that this was more fun to make than to watch), The Spoils Before Dying is not very good. But it’s the best looking not very good thing on telly.

Star rating: 2/5

Check out The Spoils Before Dying now on Virgin TV Anywhere

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07-07-2011