After years of begging Channel Four to take them, Taskmaster has finally moved on from the Top Gear rerun channel and onto bigger and better things. Taskmaster sees five comedians (Katherine Parkinson, Johnny Vegas, Richard Herring, Daisy May Cooper, and Mawaan Rizwan) desperately vie for the approval of an unforgiving and very tall Greg Davies by going up against each other in tasks that don’t really make much sense.
My first thought is that Greg Davies looks a lot like a guy that works at the 24 hour Asda back home, except very angry, and English. I have always been a little scared of Greg Davies. He’s very mean (usually for no reason) but this works fantastically. He berates poor Johnny Vegas for bringing in a perfectly hole-y tea bag and mercilessly shames Mawaan Rizwan for being a ‘sneaky pasta snake’. I am not yet sure how I feel about being yelled at for daring to be influenced by clever marketing during the ad breaks, but I appreciate that Greg is just trying to steer me away from the evil clasp of consumerism.
Alex Horne is quite simply adorable. He radiates a sort of dog-like persona. He’s the softer, less aggressive counterpart to Davies, and is simultaneously very good at behaving as a prop, it seems. He fulfils the role of the obedient sidekick very well, despite the fact that he’s the brains behind the whole operation.
The cast of this series are superb. A varied range of personalities means that it doesn’t feel repetitive at any point. I enjoy all of them for many reasons, but Johnny Vegas, Daisy May Cooper, and Katherine Parkinson have left a real impression. I’ve found myself really rooting for Johnny Vegas, who is consistently able to project the fact that he is an all-around nice guy. He occasionally puts the works into certain tasks and impresses at times, and elsewhere manages to do absolutely terribly and provide us with entertainment (which is the real point of the show). I liked him in Benidorm, I liked him in the PG Tips adverts, and I like him on Taskmaster.
The hosts and the other contestants seem to act as if Daisy May Cooper is the dim one of the bunch, yet I would say that she is simply too smart for all of them; her mind is in a different, more advanced universe. She is a brilliant composer, chicken impersonator, and overall an innovative mastermind. There is a reason why she calls herself the ‘Achievement Woman’. No one can get enough of her.
Katherine Parkinson has this certain middle-class flavour of aloofness – chatting about getting a blowtorch for her desserts, permanently dressed in office wear, forgetting that balloons can be inflated, mistaking catapults for slingshots and tearing antennae off caravans because she needs a ‘Y- Shape’. Imagine your Aunt dejectedly scooting about in a dinghy. That’s her vibe.
It’s a very easy watch – incredibly formulaic, yet not something you’ll quickly tire of. It’s good to watch with company and equally good to watch cosy under your duvet when the heating isn’t working. There’s something about watching it that is almost like you’re hanging out with friends who happen to be comedians, and the illusion of having social contact is something I think we all desperately need right now. It won’t change your life and it doesn’t want to, but it’ll get the job done and make you laugh. Sometimes, there is nothing better than some very simple light entertainment, and Taskmaster delivers that in droves.
Image: Simon23 via Wikimedia Commons