Look Around You: Season 1 (2002)
Genre: Comedy (UK)
Starring: Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of the Dead). Narrated by Nigel Lambert.
Directed By: Tim Kirkby
Overview: This spoof science show made to look EXACTLY like a 70s educational film you would see in school showcases experiments and exploration of the natural world around us. Just... look around you!
Acting: Well the performances are mostly reduced to a man pointing a pencil at a given experiment and the mildly monotonous narration. On occasion there's quirky little moments like a man coughing on another to see how long it takes for him to get sick, the naked person conversation, or the vacant, confused laser-beam man zapping things into extinction. Surely, the point was to draw away from the people to focus on the science, but the direction and the perfect narration make for grand hilarity.
Cinematography: From the little hairs in the projector, to the oranging film over-exposure, from shoddy low-budge camerawork to leaky 70s special effects graphics and cartoon diagrams, the professionalism inherent in making the film 'just so' does not go unnoticed. Besides that, the actual sets and scientists and shots used... it's perfect, it's strangely, creepilly, perfect. The thing that puts it over the top however are the little things, like lasers coming out the eyes, and other similar special effects that let you know they could have gone more modern, but that would have ruined the amazement that is memorabilia.
Script: Abso-frikken-lutely hilarious. The pure simplistic subtlety of taking science and making up terms, abbreviations and elements and using them in the everyday not only makes comedic sense, but it actually gets you thinking about how little you remembered about science in high-school. From heating something to 1200 BC to using a Besselheim plate to the element of Margaritanium, all the way to the ultra-cheesy lines: "We're using AC-DC because it is heavy metal." This isn't roll around the floor funny, it's dry wit funny, and it's smart too.
Plot: Each show studies the science of an everyday thing. From Calcium to The Brain, to Ghosts. Each show does a few experiments, each show teaches how funny science is, and they're pretty short actually, like 9 minute segments each. Sadly a whole season fits on just one DVD. The core idea is that you're at school, watching science experiments and "writing down the results in your copy book NOW."
Mood: To take archive footage is one thing, but to recreate it all just like it once was must be one hell of a challenge. To have a dead-pan narrator explaining things while the scientist puts his hand in boiling water, just to see the hand, blistered and raw in the next scene, the constant use of a pencil as a pointer, label-maker labels on everything, from magnets to spoons, I can't tell you how perfectly this captures the British dry wit while succeeding in making this look like a serious science show at the same time. I've shown this to many people already, and want to share it with many more.
Science is funny! Boiled Eggs are funny! It's actually hard to explain the beauty in this, really!
Aftertaste: In the second season, I'm told, this show swings into a spoof on 1965's "Tomorrow's World" where they predict what music and sports will be like in the Glorious Year 2000! I was told that this was nowhere near as good, but I'd still like to try and find out for myself. If Season Two this is half as good as this was, it's still worth it to me. This will be one of those shows, like Wonder Showzen, that I feel needs a champion in me, and I'll be touting the wonderful praises of "Look Around You" for quite a while. Terrific!