By Mark Frauenfelder at 12:45 pm Fri, Jan 30, 2009
Scott Beale of Laughing Squid pointed to two fantastic episodes of "Look Around You," a BBC Comedy from 2002 that parodies public science education videos.
“What are birds… we just don’t know.” HAHAHA!
I highly suggest watching the “Keyboard” episode.
AdultSwim is showing episodes of Look Around You in the U.S.:
I love this show. Now on Adult Swim.
Fantastic! I love the periodic tables.
This series captures the inanity of Educational TV perfectly. Thanks for reminding me it existed, perfect short attention span stoner viewing.
I saw this between shows on Au’s national broadcaster, who often play the type of show this is lampooning. It took me a few minutes of slack-jawed confusion to work out that it was not for real.
See, I was shown a lab-safety film (yes, FILM, 8mm, no less) at school with Bernard Bresslaw of Carry-On fame, clearly at the Troy McLure-like nadir of his career, dressed as a 50’s stereotype schoolboy, red beanie cap and all, warning us of the dangers of being foolish in the lab. This included a shot of him pushing a blob of mercury round a desktop (for beer-money wages I imagine). Look Around You was tame by comparison. I wish I could get hold of a copy now…
Credits! The guy who wrote this – Peter Serafinowicz – has his own show (“The Peter Serafinowicz Show”) comprised mainly of short sketches.
Same sort of humour, so check him out if you like this.
This is priceless. Reminds me of the educational film parody on Mr. Show.
I would think it was fairer to say the show draws it’s inspiration from two sources:
1) The Open University – the incredible publicly funded organisation that allows people to get degrees at home. Back in the 60s and 70s OU shows were shown on the BBC late at night, and featured some of the most awesome shirts and flares ever seen. The OU is the ‘look’ of “Look Around You”
2)The much loved and missed BBC science show “Tomorrow’s World” – the studio format, inept demonstrations (which frequently went wrong on the live show) and mix of presenters is pure “Look Around You”.
Terrific stuff as ever BB – just wanted to add a UK perspective…
The “Jane Grey” – took me a bit to completely fail to understand that bit, which is so cool.
The ant igloo!! :D
Best. Hand acting. Ever.
Peter Serafinowicz is a legend.
Thank you. Thank you for posting this. I will be smiling like a giddy child for the rest of the day as I subject all of my friends to this.
I’ve still completely failed to understand that damn hose. And the ornamented box.
Either it is a really obscure reference or they’re fucking with us.
Beneditor, I would say that the first series of Look Around You draws more of its inspiration from the For Schools And Colleges educational series from the 1970s; specifically the programme simply titled Experiment and the suspiciously-familiar-sounding Look Around.
More information here: http://tv.cream.org/lookin/schools/index.htm
…and thanks to the infinite power of YouTube: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ9tjkPY8-E
I’m sure that I wasn’t alone in finding Experiment in particular – with its cold, almost alien presentation juxtaposed with a cosily avuncular voiceover – compelling viewing. Thousands of chemistry sets must have been sold on the back of this programme alone; conical flasks, bunsen burners and subscript numbers, oh my!
I do wonder how much of this our transatlantic cousins can identify with; it’s a very specific parody. but hey: funny’s funny, right? Blants.
At the risk of being pedantic, series 1 was most closely based on ITV’s “Experiment” series for schools – I’ve recently picked up a few old “Experiment” episodes and it’s virtually identical. You can see a short excerpt from the original here, complete with one-minute countdown clock –
Incidentally, I think the whole “Jane Grey” hose/box thing doesn’t reference anything in particular.
I’d suggest that it’s more to do with the absurdity of elevating a mundane piece of laboratory apparatus to something special, almost revered. I think there’s also an element [no pun intended!] of the writers wanting to recreate the naive wonder that they themselves experienced watching the programmes as children.
I’m sure that I wasn’t alone in finding Experiment in particular – with its cold, almost alien presentation juxtaposed with a cosily avuncular voiceover – compelling viewing.
It’s also fun to watch while listening to My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts and pretending it’s actually by Bruce Conner.
I love this video…
Your blog link can go on your profile page. Thanks.
Brilliant! Not usually a fan of British “humour” but in this case I will make a huge exception.
Ooh, my head! Torture comedy! And while this may be a specific parody (@17), I can assure you we have this sort of thing in the US, and (at least at my u) still watch films from the seventies.
I don’t know – while I applaud the attention to visual detail, the scripts tend to be we-can-say-any-old-crap-and-be-funny approach, like voicing over footage of a high level politial meet so the politicos all appear to say “ass”
I thought the Jane Grey tube was a reference to Jane Grey.
That would explain the medieval music that plays as the box is closed.
crackercoast and I are thinking that Jane gray was a reference to disposable hose, as she was only a queen for 9 days.
FWI,the writer (Peter Serafinowicz) was also the voice of Darth Maul in ‘The Phantom Menace’.
Wonderful! The music is especially good,A great homage the the BBC RadioPhonic Workshop.The perfect eggy!! Thanks ants!Thanks.
I know this has been posted before but,still worth reiterating:BBC RadioPhonic Workshop documentary on you tube- If you grew up in 70’s in the UK the was probably the soundtrack to your fears and the first time that you were exposed to avant garde electronica,sine wave delightfulness and primitive sampling tech.If you have any intrest in sound construction and where musique concrete and TV sondtracks intersect this is for you!
Reminds me of The Periodic Table of Videos that the University of Nottingham posted to YouTube http://www.periodicvideos.com/
Thanks for bringing these wonderful educational resources to light. If you watch several of these episodes, howeverâ€“ Calcium, for exampleâ€“ you may notice references to a phenomenon known as the Helvetica Scenario.
Iâ€™ve launched a public awareness campaign on the subject, which I hope you will share with your readers.
Details are at http://www.idolhands.com/personal/danger-helvetica/
As part of this campaign, I have created a set of warning labels suitable for printing onto sticker paper. I encourage everyone to download the file and keep a stack of these stickers on hand at all times. If you see Helvetica in the wild, do your part for public safety and apply the sticker in a visible location.
Beneditor – the look of Look Around You is not much like Tomorrow’s World, which was faster paced: “Putting the emphasis firmly on what Singer called the “gee whiz factor” of science and technology, the programme’s style was positive and optimistic about technology, in tune with the prevailing mood of the times”.
Hard to believe, perhaps, but the editor of the “Water” episode of the deliberately staid Look Around You is one of this year’s Oscar nominations for Editing. It’s Chris Dickens, a quiet and self-effacing chap I’ve met a couple of times, who is nominated for the rather more frenetic Slumdog Millionaire.
People here will be interested to know he also edited Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and “Spaced”. And even a Chucky film.
Peter Serafinowicz also played Duane Benzie in the terrific Channel 4 series “Spaced” (with Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson Hynes).
Great stuff, that.
The authoritative british voice-over, confidently saying things that are just completely wrong (“H twenty”) had me laughing non-stop.
@1: I spent most of yesterday morning watching Look Around You episodes on YouTube, but couldn’t find “Keyboards”. Anyhow, Water is probably the funniest.
Also, knowing the episode’s title beforehand ruins the surprise of the introductory sequence…
Its amazing that this has gone somewhat unnoticed for 7 years. I mean something THIS GOOD that has been on youtube for 7 years and cartoon executives, bloggers and people at large are getting into it.
Do you ever (after watching awesome things on the internet) think that you have seen “the good stuff” on the internet? That anything left of pure win would have already been linked to and emailed to you forever, its refreshing to see that there is internet beyond peoples expectations.
All that said, Season 2 of Look around you wasnt as funny.
I don’t know, Music 2000 was pretty brilliant, in more of an “educational, but hip so the kids will like it” kind of way.
Machadaynu daynu daynu
Machadaynu daynu daynu
Abatetru tetru tetron
Abatetru tetru tetron…
I’m writing all this down in my copybook!
Submit a tip
The rules you agree to by using this website.
Who will be eaten first?
Jason Weisberger, Publisher
Ken Snider, Sysadmin