Appropriately for a show called Spitting Image, the big question is how close the remake comes with the original satirical latex puppet show.
The series, which aired on ITV from 1984 to 1996, was central to the longest-running moral protests of the Tory regime before the present time.
Fans of the franchise will be relieved that the resurgence – launching on streaming service Britbox on Saturday – has not lost any of its arrogance or desire to shock.
One of the first images is of Donald Trump’s “asshole”, a different character in the effect, represented by a protruding sphincter, which looks like a penis wrapped in feces. Unemployed Prince Harry in Los Angeles tries to make money by dressing like a Nazi. Dominic Cummings is a stranger who wants to eat baby Wilfred Johnson for breakfast, but even then Boris Johnson’s mournful voice will not dare to kick him.
Britabox is a joint venture between ITV and the BBC, so new director general Tim Dewey, who wants to reduce Downing Street’s hostility to the corporation, should expect Cummings and Johnson to take offense primarily on the commercial network.
There have been two major changes in context since the puppet’s first run. One, with significant historical improbability, the UK and the U.S. In the current political situation, the extreme strategy of the Thatcher-Reagan era is realized in which the image of Spitting was first developed.
The current news cycle is so furious that the first episode was re-edited early Friday morning to include Trump’s coronavirus results. It looks like the show will make easy use of Trump and Johnson’s tweets – able to level up on the screen at the last minute, to keep it as topical as possible.
The second change of the first time is that the society policed by social media is more sensitive to crime. The show’s tactic of focusing on the physical, vocal, dignified – and exaggerated characteristic of the exaggerated person now risks accusations of bigotry or embarrassment.
ITV has admitted to censoring the addition of carrot leaves to singer Ed Sheeran’s red head in case of upset (now, oddly enough, it’s a turnip); But, in an earlier version, Sheeran’s puppet would probably have been a completely whole carrot, with a side-dish of tone-deafness.
Cultural stop-it cops will be especially wary of gender and class representations.
And here the series shows a little caution. Interestingly, the Preeti Patel puppet is not given any words ending in G, thus avoiding her distinctive style of conversation. Leading to his orgasm from Michael Gove’s point of view, Patel is portrayed in dominance, whose rubber cheeks are swollen and rough like hanging buttocks.
That sketch is at least as insulting as the Thatcher-era sketch. The range of targets is also impressively wide, with the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, mocking Mary Poppins to be a full-fledged politician even in a tremendous era. Teeth, it seems, are still considered a safe part of the body, with Ardern’s choppers typically whipped.
The first show gives HRH a bit of a silly slapstick to Prince Andrew, but, fortunately, this is the next nine weeks.
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