What was good about it?
• Tom Blackley, the coach of Ashburn U11s, briefly put us in mind of Grange Hill alumnus Mr Baxter. We were momentarily transported back to a TV show with some good writing, some good acting, some respect for its audience and some basic credibility.
• Along similar lines, we tuned out halfway through and started reminiscing about another children’s drama that puts this apparently adult show to shame, Jossy’s Giants. It was much better remembering Jossy spilling orange juice down his Newcastle United tie on his wedding day than the assortment of old-as-the-hills undertaker gags and laughable characterisations present in this show. If the BBC really wanted a comedy about a kids football team, why didn’t they just ask Sid Waddell to rewrite Jossy’s Giants for an older audience?
What was bad about it?
• The series utilises a ‘mockumentary’ approach that owes a very heavy debt to The Office (although this series has been adapted from a Canadaian series called The Tournament). This does it no favours at all. Where The Office was realistic, understated, intelligent and subtle, The Cup is unrealistic, over the top and, to put it bluntly, stupid.
• The Office also benefited from the fact that as viewers we cared about the characters, whether it was through hoping for a romance between Tim and Dawn or hoping to see Brent make a twat of himself. The Cup has no such believable characters, and so we care nothing for them. They’re all risible stereotypes and the actors, although none covered themselves in glory, were shamefully hamstrung by the awful, facile script.
• The point of using a mockumentary format is to present comedy within realistic situations, utilising a sly deadpan humour. Yet none of that was here. One low point saw football dad Terry smacked in the head with a football. Hilarious. We could almost hear Homer Simpson shouting ‘Football in the groin! Football in the groin!’
• There’s more, such as how the ‘jokes’ were basically all the same style, just slightly repackaged each time and how the ‘clever’ way of demonstrating that this was a documentary was to let the camera sometimes lose focus. But, frankly, this diabolical attempt at a sitcom doesn’t even deserve our time. Once again the BBC fails to tear us away from the Paramount chocolate box of acceptable comedy – Everybody Loves Chris, Scrubs, Frasier, 3rd Rock. Christ, we’d even take Two and a Half Men over this tripe.