Top critical review
25 people found this helpful
Disorganised and Disappointing
on 25 August 2011
Disappointingly unclear and ill-conceived: Mark Blake makes the same (confused) 5 points over and over again throughout his book, regularly contradicting himself in the same sentence. He generally constructs his argument by saying "Do X. We know X works because they did it in The Office/Peep Show/Only Fools and Horses/Friends. Don't do Y. We know Y doesn't work because no one's done it before." This is useful in terms of spotting examples of sitcom convention, but he never satisfyingly delves into the reasons behind the conventions, leaving the reader slightly mystified as to exactly what wisdom he's passing on besides "watch loads of sitcoms and do what they did, only different".
Blake assumes his reader is an arrogant, lazy 20 year old man. I'm an arrogant, lazy 20 year old man, but I found this book sexist and thoughtless. My favourite nugget of advice was "Don't forget: women are people too. So you have to give them proper characters, and not just make them plot devices." Also, "With women, it's not always just about chocolate. Though usually it is." Thanks, Mark for that searing insight. If I were reading this book as a woman, the clear message would be: leave the sitcom to the boys, you get on with being a Real Person. Here's some Dairy Milk to get you started.
If you're hoping for a clear and deeply reasoned deconstruction of sitcom mechanics, then don't bother with this book. I was hoping for a Britcom version of Snyder's Save The Cat or McKee's Story, but this book reads more like a pompous unfunny set of lecture notes (which I suspect is exactly what it is) than an astute and insightful guide to understanding and creating sitcom.