Is it just us still watching Open Slather? Assuming so, we can report the following: despite the fact that they’ve sacked a large proportion of their original writing team, and that there are now a lot less Downton Abbey sketches…it’s still crap. This isn’t such a surprise as shows like this are like big ships – hard to turn around – and any changes made behind the scenes aren’t going to be obvious to audiences quickly. They also seem to have a whole stack of those RBT sketches to get through, so pre-writers cull material is still going to air.
Maybe the show will have improved by the end of its run, maybe not. Our guess is not, because the central problem with Open Slather remains: ensemble sketches shows written and performed by a bunch of people who’ve never worked together always suck. And as for the possibility that one part of the team might manage to break out with something fresh and funny from beneath the piles of TV parodies and half-arsed running gags…that seems unlikely.
Open Slather has the look and feel of a show which needs to fill air time, where sketches are written and made quickly, and in bulk. The kind of comedy that people laugh very hard at, share with friends and remember years later tends to come from a different place: it comes from like-minded people who know each, getting together to produce something they find funny and believe in. And judging from the end products on display in Open Slather, our guess is that the only thing its writers and cast believe in is whatever money they can get for it doing it.
Whoever pitched this series grossly underestimated the ability of this team to produce a watchable 45 minutes of sketch comedy every week for 20 weeks. And watching Open Slather has become a bit like watching late-noughties phone-in quiz show The Mint: the only thing even slightly compelling about it is that the makers succeed in filling airtime with something vaguely resembling entertainment.
And in a world where the eyeballs of target demographics are glued to clickbait, cat videos and other pointless internet memes, Open Slather is kind of on-trend: it’s creating content to fill in space, rather than content that deserves to exist. Yet, as it’s content that’s not as entertaining or resonant as even a half-arsed cat video, it’s content that really really doesn’t deserve to exist. Sure, this series will limp over the episode 20 line, but that’ll be the end of it. And within a week, no one will remember it was even there.