Review: Charlie Brooker's 2013 Wipe

Charlie Brooker Image credit: Feline_Dacat

Like the enduring misanthrope that I am, I wasn't looking forward to New Year’s for the normal party-related reasons, but rather because it's an excuse to get my favourite bile-ridden comedian, Charlie Brooker, back on the box for his 2013 Wipe. Brooker sits in his flat (which incidentally looks much nicer than last year) and gives us a cynical and sarcastic look back at the year's important news stories and bizarre happenings.

These off-the-wall goings-on were the highlight, with Dogging Tales (C4) being simultaneously awkward and laugh-out-loud funny. Some, like his reminder of Jeremy Irons's interview on gay marriage, didn't need much extra input to be funny. Not even the BBC was safe: the spiral of insanity that Newsnight has become received special scrutiny.

However, the first half of the show seemed to be less sarcastic and quirky than usual, leading me to feel like I was watching repeats of Have I Got News For You, especially during the piece about the UKIP conference. It picked up in the second half though, with Brooker's trademark childish jokes hitting the spot, including playground humour about the ‘mayday assistant’ for the Amazon Kindle Fire, balanced with seething criticism of Robin Thicke and both Cameron and Miliband. As an aside, I still find it weird that the show bleeps out swearing but is quite happy to show Thicke's nudity-laden video. However, it never dipped into the truly offensive, which is the danger of shows like this, especially when they feature controversial subjects like Edward Snowden or Thatcher's death, and tragedies such as the Kenyan mall massacre and the death of Nelson Mandela. 

The return of Brooker's parody of talking heads was brilliant, with the idiocy of ‘experts’ Barry Shitpeas and Philomena Cunk, but I did miss the poetry of Tim Key. Doug Stanhope, his American ‘correspondent’, was a bit of a miss this year. He talked about a fundraiser that he'd organised in order to help an atheist woman in the middle of the Bible belt: great work admittedly, but it did seem a bit self-congratulatory on his part.

Overall, it was probably just as funny as last year, but it didn't need to be any better. It was still a great bit of TV and I'm hotly anticipating Brooker's revival of Weekly Wipe in January – even if he did take the piss out of my home town of Bucklebury.

Score: 9/10

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