Brian Pern returns for a second series with even more confessions about the milestones he helped achieve in the history of rock music. This time he reunites with his former band-mates from the progressive rock band Thotch in order to create a stage musical based on their greatest hits. The latent drama that exists within the different members of the former band is unveiled. And while they struggle to finalise their showcase, they confide into the camera regarding their true feelings about their time in Thotch, and Brian Pern.
Rhys Thomas and Simon Day continue their irreverent spoof about Peter Gabriel’s alter ego – Brian Pern. This time they centre the episode on the story of Thotch. This downplayed version of Genesis observes the eccentricities of progressive rock bands of that era and how burlesque and comical their protagonists were. If the first series set up the story of the fake life and musical achievements of our characters, this series is about their future and how they manage a flailing career when what producers only want to hear of them is a re-enactment of their better years. Subtle mise en abyme of the current music business.
The second series succeeds in keeping its amusingly detached stance even while walking a more clichéd and easy path of the conflictual relationships between members of a famous music band. Brian Pern, as a character, remains interestingly funny but the situational comedy with his former band-mates is the real energy of the “mockumentary”.
For a newcomer to the show, it might be a little confusing at first. In other words, you will probably end up on Wikipedia, searching for information about Thotch or Brian Pern. This is due to the good use of fake footage and interviews with existing rock celebrities talking about Pern and Thotch. It really solidifies the work of the writers and directors who managed to capture the craziness of progressive rock stars such as Peter Gabriel in its heyday. Lets acknowledge the actor performance consisting of one of the strongest elements of the show, being as stereotypical as their real life counterparts.
A Life in Rock is a charming programme to watch with snacks, for a good laugh or a sarcastic grin, at least. I recommend it if you are a fan of the previous series, if you enjoy British humour and mirroring “mockumentary”, or simply, if you are curious to see what a musical about Genesis might look like in real life.
Brian Kern : A Life in Rock airs on BBC Two, December 9, 2014