A Touch of Cloth is the latest new show from Sky, part of their recent quest to produce worthwhile and noteworthy TV programmes, rather than just US imports and things that look rubbish. (Don’t think about Sinbad when reading this paragraph.)
This time, it’s a parody of the entire UK police show genre, written by Charlie Brooker and Daniel Maier. So, will this be a more subtle and artful send-up than Brooker’s Black Mirror?
Taking a Pneumatic Drill to the Black Mirror
Not remotely, but that’s no bad thing this time. The problem with Black Mirror: it clearly wanted to be an ingenious satire making clever points about society. Sadly, the two Brooker-penned episodes were about as subtle and cunning as being attacked with a pneumatic drill, in broad daylight, by a man running at you from the other end of the street.
A Touch of Cloth is, if anything, even more hammer-to-the-face than Black Mirror, but it’s pure comedy, so that’s fine. It’s not trying to be edgy satire – this is full-on parody, with relentless puns, sight gags and characters cycling through police genre conventions, whilst announcing out-loud exactly which one they’re currently doing.
Cloth Overdose – Dangerous Side-Effect of Washing Up
Yes, some of the jokes are groaners or painfully telegraphed, but there are so damn many of them that the hit rate is still high enough to keep me amused. I must admit, watching the whole two-parter in one sitting might have been a Cloth OD – do yourself a favour and at least break for a sandwich between episodes.
John Hannah is fun as the edgy cop, and Suranne Jones as everyman sidekick is great, because she is exactly the level of popular ex-soap actress who gets cast in this kind of role. And outside the lead two, it’s mostly comedy actors who were in Teachers, nailing the one-liners.
Apparently two more stories have been commissioned to form a trilogy, so we’ll get to see how the joke holds up over time. (And for our Doctor Who liking readers – Karen Gillan cast in the third one.) But for now, whether it’s the freedom to be silly or Daniel Maier’s help as co-writer, this is Charlie Brooker’s finest screenwriting effort yet. Not subtle or thought provoking, but it made me laugh.