CHRISTOPHER STEVENS Reviews Last Night’s TV: A Childish Sitcom Perfect For Kids – If It Wasn’t For All The Swearing
Code 404 (Sky Comedy)
Train truck drivers (yesterday)
By his own account, Sir David Attenborough was the first man responsible for foul language on television.
As a young producer, in 1952, he invited a Cockney Pied Piper named Bill Dalton to talk about his work on a live show.
Bill brought a cage full of brown rats and pulled one out by the tail, spinning it around.
Police comedy Code 404 (Sky Comedy) returned for a third series of curses. But the four-letter words are the least funny part of this broad sitcom
‘Now I don’t want you to think,’ he told the camera, ‘that I am mistreating this rat in any way. But unless I get a little dizzy, the b****r will bite me.’
The nation was shocked. Today, thousands of viewers might protest at the sight of a rodent being turned on its backside, but hardly anyone would raise an eyebrow at such a mild curse.
Even the most obscene language has lost its power to shock – making me wonder if all that whining and dazzling makes sense.
The Police Comedy Code 404 (Sky Comedy) returned for a third series of swearing. But the four-letter words are the least funny part of this broad sitcom.
Starring Daniel Mays as a bionic buyer with faulty upgrades, and Stephen Graham as his despondent partner, Code 404 would be much better as a children’s show than a comedy after the turning point.
Useful Habit of the Night
A BBC survey found that 80 percent of viewers aged 18 to 25 turn on the closed captions when they watch TV, look up to read the words and then go back to their phones.
Good exercise for when they get a little older…
Many of the jokes seem to be aimed entirely at seven-year-olds. Half robot, half resuscitated corpse, and completely idiotic, DI John Major belongs in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.
He ruined a police performance by arresting the chief informant, bundling him in the trunk of his car, and leading his partner on a high-speed chase.
Dragged over coals by their Chief Inspector, Major explained cheerfully, “We lacked intelligence, Boss.”
“Yes, you understood that correctly,” his accomplice sighed.
There is a great joke in Major’s relationship with the scientist who programmed him (Amanda Payton). Every time he sees her, he becomes the grumpy, rough teen for her proud mother.
Immune to cynicism, devoid of tact, DI Major is excited to hunt down a serial psychopath. His first theory is that the killer chooses victims based on the Mr. Men-books.
Then he turns his attention to the Seven Dwarfs (“What was that grumpy one’s name?” he asks).
The best of the other one-liners are equally childish. DCS Dennett (Rosie Cavaliero) begins her funeral speech to an untrustworthy buyer: “Perhaps fitting for a man who died on Pancake Day, Clifford had two sides.”
And when Mays and Graham arrive at a crime scene, a forensic officer orders them to ignore the bloodstains: “That’s from a previous murder a few months ago.”
With such silly jokes, Code 404 should be on during tea time. But almost every sentence would have to be paged to make it suitable for family viewing.
A good comedy that appeals to adults and children alike is rare. Ghosts from BBC1 is one of the few sitcoms currently doing well.
The endless foul language in Code 404 makes it unsuitable for the audience that should enjoy it most – the under ten.
Train Truckers (Yesterday): Truck drivers used a giant trailer to transport a diesel engine
Undoubtedly, there is quite a curse on the breath as carriers struggle to maneuver 80-ton locomotives on trucks through narrow village streets. But it was cut out in the edit of Train Truck Drivers (Yesterday).
Lorry drivers used a gigantic trailer to transport Sir John Betjeman – a diesel engine, that is, and not the late Poet Laureate, although he would no doubt have enjoyed a stay with the North York Moors Heritage Railway.
Each track on this show includes a computer graphic to show how easily a locomotive can tip over. Poor old Sir John – how unworthy of him.