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This review is from: Look Around You : Complete BBC Series 1  [DVD] (DVD)
Humour is a very subjective thing; I, for instance, do not find "The Office" at all funny. Whether anyone reading this will find "Look Around You" as funny as I do I can't say, but I think it's one of the finest things ever to have been broadcast, for what it is - eight ten-minute programmes. Peter Serafinowicz takes his ludicrous "experiments" absolutely seriously, and Nigel Lester's commentary similarly betrays not the slightest sign that he is reading out a spoof - even when he has to say things like "The gas was allowed to mafipulate through the water for five minutes." The programmes perfectly capture the style of those dreary Schools Programmes on science we saw in the late 70s and early 80s, and - if you didn't pay close attention - you might almost believe it was for real. Until you notice the ants building the igloo, that is. "Thanks, ants," as Nigel Lester says, politely. "Thants."
The DVD is very well presented, and allows the usual writers' and director's commentary as an alternative to the original soundtrack. From this I learned how the show was first conceived: Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz produced a one-off parody programme on "Calcium" basically to amuse themselves, and the BBC eventually took it up and commissioned the series we have now enjoyed. "Calcium" is included on the DVD; the interrogation of "intelligent calcium" is perhaps the highlight, though there are many other things to cherish. You also get a series of mock "Pages from CEEFAX", with news, farming, financial and sport reports which combine realism and madness very much as the programmes do; a quiz for what you have learned from each episode, with suitable punishments should you do badly; and a parody test card ending with a few seconds of animation from a cartoon that I wish went on for a whole five minutes. Until we see a complete edition of "The Hexagons", though, I just have to repeat their names - Moffaty, Gideon, Vincent, Slingsby and Wilson - to make myself laugh.