From the makers of Green Wing comes Campus, a comedy about life at the fictional Kirke University, and a programme that looks like itâs probably going to split opinion quite widely.
Itâs got Green Wingâs fingerprints all over it, from the way the characters act towards each other down to the way that it feels like a group of related mini-skits that make up the show. But the humour is darker than its predecessor, and it is as likely to make you feel a bit awkward as it is to make you laugh.
One of the central characters is Jonty De Wolfe, vice-chancellor of the university, who is a racist, insensitive, inappropriate idiot who will become an immediate favourite of 15-year-olds (on account of his potty mouth and over-the-top demeanour) and KKK members (for obvious reasons). Itâs not quite clear why the âsoftâ racism is necessary, and some of the moments, such as when Jonty stands on top of the building with a loudspeaker telling all foreign students to âpick up their free mintsâ? because âthey have to talk to English people,â? just seem a bit gratuitous. Thereâs a line between poking fun using stereotypes and just being rude, and itâs become rather blurred in Campus.
Then thereâs the English Lit lecturer who is a cross between Lord Byron and a sex predator (although some may say that there might not be too much of a distinction there). Fifty per cent of the time he does funny pretty well â telling his TA âMark Iâm as sorry as you are, but if we ignore the rules then all weâre left with is anarchyâ? as heâs shooting rubber arrows at a target painted on the guyâs chest is particularly good – but the other fifty per cent heâs leering over any woman near him like some kind of hideous, dystopic poster boy for sex pests.
There are more uses of the word âVaginaâ than there would be in a box full of sex education videos presented by Russell Brand, although â in fairness â thereâs also fewer clever colloquialisms than youâd get with Brand that might have helped to broaden the vocabulary a bit.
The fact that Campus works at all is a testament to the bizarre world it creates; a world where being a dysfunctional madman (or woman) is totally acceptable, and the sort of behaviour that would get you slammed with a restraining order faster than you can say âno means noâ is as normal as catching a bus. Within this surreal environment you find yourself able to make concessions for some of the outlandish behaviour and things the characters say, but overall watching the show seems a little bit like watching a car crash; you want to look away, but canât. Itâs a patchy start for the new comedy, but thereâs plenty of good stuff mixed in with the bad that gives you reason to believe itâll only get better.