How Not To Create a Watchable Television Program

Okay, it’s our own fault: we shouldn’t have given How Not to Behave a second try. But after one of the most pointless opening episodes in recent memory, we assumed – foolishly, as it turned out – that the only way for things to go was up. Surely it couldn’t go on week in week out being nothing more than a clumsily thrown together collection of half-arsed sketches and awkward couch banter?

Well, yes it could.

In fact, it seems to have gotten worse. What we assumed was moderately warm and fun chemistry between the two hosts in episode one now simply seems like two decent comedy professionals doing their best despite only barely interacting with each other. And when they do, the painfully obvious editing makes sure to destroy any real interaction they might have going on.

Meanwhile, the sketches continue to be amongst the most bizarrely pointless things we’ve ever seen, and we watched at least two episodes of that ABC sports quiz show that Peter Helliar hosted. We’re usually somewhat wary of revealing the true depths of our ignorance, but help us out here: what exactly is the joke meant to be? That we, the audience, are so clueless we need this kind of ultra-basic advice on how to live our lives? Or that the advice being handed out is so rubbish no-one would follow it? We get that the “don’t do this” parts are meant to be funny – they’re not, but whatever – but what’s the point of the “good” advice?

As for the prank stuff… well, it’s prank stuff. So pretty much totally pointless once you get past “how embarrassment”. Remember Candid Camera? Of course not, you’re not a thousand years old. But at least Candid Camera would pretend that the idea of the show was to reveal how people act when they think they’re being unobserved: when you can tell from the set-up of a prank that the end result is going to be “they’re so embarrassed!”, you probably don’t need to bother doing the actual prank. Especially as the year is not currently 2007.

And then along comes an expert in stuff to tell us about stuff. In theory this could be interesting, only hello: we came here for the comedy. Are these people experts in making us laugh? Are they experts in a topic that will make us laugh? Are they even just wacky comedy experts we can laugh at because they’re obsessed with some obscure topic? And every episode to date the answer comes back: fuck no.

But what really got us about the whole “revisiting” situation was this: nothing at all had changed. There’s not the slightest sign that anyone had looked at the first episode and thought “hmm, maybe tighten this up a little”. It was as if the cast & crew had looked at the first episode, said “perfect, fourteen more just like that and we’re done”.

Well, they got the “we’re done” part right.

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