Gather round, gather round! Bring your family and friends and come join me at the hearth with a warm glass of cocoa (is that still a thing anymore?) to watch the festive edition of Mrs Brown’s Boys!
I wish that were how I could honestly begin this review, but the truth is that the Christmas special is a bit like an awkward family gathering at Christmas; it can be okay at times, but there’s almost certainly something else you’d rather be doing. The special is a watchable, light piece of TV, but it’s unlikely to appeal to anyone outside its established fanbase.
The problem with the episode is arguably a problem with the format of the show. For those unfamiliar with it, Mrs Brown’s Boys is performed live in front of a studio audience, and any mistakes made are caught on camera and kept in the television broadcast. The show is at its funniest when someone forgets a line and the rest of the cast improvise around them; and the frequency with which this happens in previous series is what makes the show easy to love. It shows that there are real people behind those performances and we laugh at their misfortune. But therein lies the rub; it’s easy to laugh at Mrs Brown’s Boys but it’s difficult to laugh with it.
The cast’s ability to adlib is one of the show’s greatest strengths. Yet for almost certainly its biggest audience of the year, the cast have stayed rigidly on script. As a result, a lot of the humour is lost and a weak script that relies too much on innuendo and fourth wall breaking for laughs doesn’t provide any relief. The innuendo quickly becomes repetitive and tiresome. The jokes are often predictable, and even when there are ideas with great potential (SPOILERS: a talking Christmas tree), the comic opportunity is squandered and quickly descends into cringeworthy farce.
The Christmas special is some mildly amusing if unsatisfying comedy that’s an easy watch if you want to put something on the TV, but this is a present that’s best put back under the tree.
Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas Special will broadcast on BBC One on Thursday 25 December at 10.05pm.