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Isn’t there Something Funnier than Special 1 TV?

Now THAT's funny.

Now THAT's funny.

The Football Comedy is closely related to the Football Film: both are nearly impossible to pull off and both tend to leave fans deeply divided.  In my experience, football comedy is usually best when it targets soccer’s absurd periphery, like When Saturday Comes’ tongue-in-cheek reporting on money in modern English football, Mitchell and Webb’s exquisite dissection of the moronic bombast of Sky Sports, or Steve Coogan’s take on inane TV sports analysis.

But football comedy intended for “the fans” is usually doomed from the start, suffering the a priori limitation of having to carefully cater to the absurd, partisan bias of the average club supporter. Hence the gratingly unfunny Special 1 TV (formerly known as I’m on Setanta Sports), Setanta’s five minute Spitting Image-style puppet show featuring Jose Mourinho, Sven Goran Erikkson, Wayne Rooney and Fabio Capello, among a few other familiar off-screen ‘callers’ (Fergie, Becks and Benitez, rounding up the LCD of recognizable football characters).

Of course many Eee Pee El fans will disagree violently with me on this (scroll down for the usual grab-bag of epithets).  Love for the latex megalomaniac Mourinho and his apparently brain-damaged side-kick Wayne Rooney seems near universal on the blogs.  Some close friends of mine have even expressed envy at my Setanta subscription, not so much for the three Saturday fixtures but for the five minute, post-match S1TV featuring moist globs waving their gloved hands around while making jokes well below the comedy line.

It seems to me in conceiving the show, the producers thought as long as the puppets looked and sounded right the need for funny dialogue would be moot.  They also took care to avoid pissing off their less-than-anticipated number of subscribers by removing any hint of cutting satire (here’s a great example). There’s a reason main on-screen characters are ex-Premier League managers—anything touching on the actual absurdity of the current Premiership might stumble on the truth and thereby piss off thousands of vulnerable supporters, able to mobilize on a moment’s notice with on-line petitions and Facebook groups calling for boycotts (the Rooney puppet, depicted as a rambunctious man child, doesn’t count.  A Ronaldo puppet on the other hand…).

Yes, the show is only five minutes long and easily avoidable.  That’s not the issue.  The issue is is that it seems to have become part of the ‘zeitgeist.’  References to S1TV are near ubiquitous in the English press, and football bloggers almost choked when they swallowed last month’s ‘cancellation’ prank whole (a marketing gimmick for the above-mentioned name change).  I just think we can do better than this, and that there is a place for good, biting satire in deadly-close proximity to match day fixtures—the more offended partisan fans the better.  If they need any inspiration, they could go no better than go back to the original Spitting Image, the show that cut into the dark, horrible heart of Thatcherism with little remorse. Lord knows the Premier League is still ripe for the pickin.’

These are the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of ANYONE else at EPL Talk.

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  1. Concon

    August 2, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!Don’t go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Wawawawawawawawawawa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. coachbones

    April 10, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    live sports & the special 1. what else do i need,,, oh, a fix of the simpsons now & then,, wow the SIMPSONS have moved down to 3rd spot on the ladder…. not a bad feeling when u see or do something for the first time & you know that its got success written all over it.. INSTANT GOLD FROM THE FIRST EPISODE.. HEY CHANNEL 9, TAKE SOME POINTERS ON HOW TO RUN A REAL FOOTBALL SHOW, oh thats right, the REAL FOOTBALL GAME isnt talked about on your show because u ignorant f***s dont believe thats its popular enough, maybe not here DOWN UNDER but to the rest of the world its the most popular sport in the world, OH except for those dumb ass yanks who think that the USA is the only country on this earth & what they believe in is the only thing that matters,, WAKE UP YANKS & AUSSIES because NO OTHER SPORT WILL EVER SURPASS THE GREATEST GAME IN THE WORLD or both OUR countries will remain behind the times as we have done & are still doing & the worst thing was it was a racist issue here in Australia because foreigners introduced the REAL FOOTBALL to us & we didnt want to hear about from day one. We are starting to wake up a little but WE are still behind the times & will always remain there because OUR JUNIOR SYSTEM SUCKS,sorry we have NO JUNIOR SYSTEM except for DADDY DAY CARE because thats all it is with most junior clubs in my region. I GOT AN IDEA, HOW ABOUT WE TRY FOLLOWING THE DUTCH INSTEAD OF THE YANKS FOR ONCE, WOW NOW THAT WOULD BE SOMETHING, DUTCH DELIGHT, Yeah right, not in my life time, damn shame that.. …. anyone got a spare room downstairs for me, any location except the USA or Australia because we are both FOOTBALL STUPID unless u sit on OUR ROUND BALL & change its shape then they might have an idea.,, RUGBY LEAGUE, UNION or CRIVKET WORLD CUPS >>> how many teams PARTICIPATE? yeah thats what i thought LMFAO & & & & WTF’s the go with WORLD SERIES BASEBALL>> it is only played in the US by only US teams ? Y/N ? anybody ? i think i justed pissed myself.. lmao.. one last thing & this is from a true Football Lover, LONG LIVE PLAYERS LIKE “MESSI” a true CLASS ACT, skillfull & humble.keeps his feet always on the ground ( except when he’s flying past opponants, he has a level head unlike another great player(one guess who im talking about, & before u come back with something to support this other great player, know that he comes from the team i SUPPORT so its not that im a one eyed MESSI fan but if a player like MESSI can win my heart over then i will support him & vote for him in any poll even if its against a player from the team i support. A TRUE SPORTS FAN APPRECIATES THE TALENT OF ALL PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALLERS & OTHER PROFESSIONAL SPORTS PEOPLE without violence or verbal abuse because REMEMBER IT IS JUST A GAME..

  3. coachbones

    April 10, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    keep doing it to me, please

  4. Alex

    February 23, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Well, to me this show is one of the funniest I have ever seen relating to football. Yes, it could push the envelope much more but there is a saying that you don’t bite the hand that feeds you…and Setanta would never get anything from Scudamore&co should they dare to critisise the system that they are also major benefactors of. So, while the show could be better (I’d love a Brian Warwick/Scudamore puppet on the programme…) at least they are doing something. Which can not be said about BBC, ITV (making fun of themselves?) or Sky. Or did I miss something?

  5. DaveMo

    February 22, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    So it’s S1TV’s fault that it’s not the black adder? They’re doing what they do, and at times it’s very funny. You can cross your fingers and hope that it inspires MORE football comedy, some of which may push the envelope in the direction you desire, but IOSS/S1TV is not to blame for the lack of choices out there. I say kudos for doing something unexpected (at least in the US, where puppet comedies aren’t numerous) and enjoy the success.

  6. The Gaffer

    February 22, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    I think the fact of the matter is that there is very little humor out there to choose from, which is the main reason why Special 1 TV is so popular. Some episodes are funny. Others are weak, but there really isn’t much else to choose from.

    The Gaffer

  7. Richard Whittall

    February 22, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Well, Lord knows Simon I’M not funny…I could do a post on that but it would crash the site.

  8. Simon Burke

    February 22, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Different humour I guess but I tend to find this hilarious. I think you did the Man City sign fake player nonsense a while back. That was not funny.

  9. Paul Bestall

    February 22, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    I love it Richard, it’s definitely the best thing on Setanta and has a dark line of humour that I love. Top stuff sir.

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