I find Danny Baker (radio DJ, talking head and Twitter dick) and Peter Kay (kitchen sink nostalgia-peddling comic) pretty annoying. They both seem to have peaked years ago and now they’re trading on past success. So Cradle to Grave featuring both was something to be avoided. Mr H was a big fan of Peter Kay’s last tv outing Peter Kay’s Car Share and the classic Phoenix Nights (Chorley FM – coming in your ears!) so we watched it anyway and it was surprisingly enjoyable.
Danny Baker’s autobiography is wall-to-wall deep shag pile nostalgia, and those walls are a vivid orange and brown. – nice! It’s clear were in 1970-something and, despite Peter Kay’s accent, it seems we’re in Saarf London with a family of loveable rogues. Pa Baker is a light-fingered docker who often brings home items that have fallen off the boat to the consternation of his wife. He doesn’t seem to drive a yellow three-wheeled Reliant van but Del Boy and Rodney must be close cousins. It’s a classic old school sitcom, warm and gentle, and reassuringly familiar to people nostalgic for the 70s.
Nostalgia in comedy works well. Even if, like me, you’re vaguely annoyed at the start of the programme, the warm and gentle lull of times past soothes your mood and cheers you up despite yourself. The Goldbergs (pretty much constantly repeated on E4) is a prime example of this. It’s a loosely autobiographical series about the all-American family in the 1980s and plays fast and loose with the historical references. Cunningly, or irritatingly, depending on how pedantic you are, you never know what year it is. The voice over (Patton Oswalt as the young Adam Goldberg) says it’s 1980-something at the top of each episode so that the characters can be discussing Poltergeist, released in 1982, at the same time as Adam’s brother Barry is super-excited about the Reebok Pump, which was invented in the late-eighties. This produces a messy melting pot of 80s nostalgia and as young Adam is our narrator we can easily forgive him. Can you remember what your favourite computer games was aged 12? Was it Legend of Zelda? Or were you 13 when you got that game? It’s hard to be sure but it’s universal – it’s just the way our memory works. It’s a heart-warming programme, like getting a warm hug, and does have some proper laughs in it. I love how it’s based on real life (written and produced by Adam Goldberg) and you see a real-life embarrassing photo or a family argument captured on video at the end of the credits. It’s no Modern Family, but I’m looking forward to the new series due at the end of September 2015 in the States.
If you want to learn more about the true story of the Goldberg family History vs Hollywood has a great interview, which is well worth a read.