Oliver Davis reviews Part 1 of the Sky 1 special, A Touch of Cloth…
“Natasha’s called from the mortuary. She said it’s big.”
“I know. I’ve been there.”
That is an excellent joke. It echoes the great Airplane running gag of:
“You’d better tell the Captain we’ve got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.”
“A hospital? What is it?”
“It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now”
It could’ve easily been written by the Abrahams or Zuckers. But it wasn’t. It was written by Charlie Brooker (Black Mirror) and Daniel Maier (Harry Hill’s TV Burp). Both, then, have credentials of lampooning television, and their A Touch of Cloth leaves no detective show convention unmocked.
“The victim had just been shopping at the pet store.”
“No. Just cat nip and food.”
If you ever wondered what Police Squad/The Naked Gun would look like in the modern age, Touch is it. Didn’t laugh at that joke? Well then have another. And another. And another. And everyone plays it straight; a cast of Leslie Nielsens. No-one even sniggers. They don’t have to, and the show’s infinitely funnier for it.
Jack Cloth (John Hannah) is an alcoholic, recently widowed detective. His backstory is told in newspaper clippings framed on his wall (“Local Cop Addicted To News Clippings,” reads one headline) and an overflowing bin of empty Gordon’s gin. Anne Oldman (Suranne Jones) is his new partner. “100% Tits and Ambition,” states her warrant card. It’s pronounced ‘An Old Man’ (with the stress on the ‘Old’, unlike Gary’s), a name from which every last drip of humour is wrung.
Almost every line is of the ‘punch’ variety. The one’s that aren’t are set-ups. The jokes come almost as thick as the characters. And when the characters are silent, some ridiculous sight gag is taking place in the background. A flat covered in police tape, Cloth and Oldman having to navigate through it like Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment; a dismembered body having been sorted into the appropriately coloured recycling bags; a two-way mirror not actually being a two-way mirror, but a painting that is later removed.
One scene has Cloth conduct an entire interview with an erection, after listening to his colleagues very descriptive description of the event. Descriptive description? That’s not bad writing. It’s a reflection of the zaniness of Touch’s script.
I watched Touch with my father. We laughed a lot throughout, but the scene that tickled us most was where a victim’s dad sexually molests his daughter’s corpse in the morgue…
…but when you put it like that, it doesn’t sound too funny.
Hear me out.
The dad has a condition where whenever he’s shocked, he experiences an orgasm. This stems from an earlier, ‘literal’ gag about how he “came as soon as he heard about his daughter’s death.” In any other show, that would mean he rushed to where he was told to go. In Touch, the meaning is taken at its unintentional double entendre. Try watching a serious cop show. That line will inevitably arise. You won’t take it seriously. That is the mark of a very, very good spoof – it discredits that which it mocks. Not a homage, which reinforces conventions. A spoof.
A Touch of Cloth concludes tomorrow on Sky 1 at 9pm.