Over the course of its 50 year history there’ve been more James Bond spoofs than there have been official 007 movies. You could be forgiven for thinking there was little comedy to be mined from the world of secret agents and larger than life villains, but Above Average has teamed up with comedy quartet Captain Hippo (Andrew Ford, Steven Levine, Daniel Spenser and Michael Antonucci) to unearth a few more nuggets of laughter out of this well worn set up.
The suave Agent Stone (Nate Smith) keeps falling into the hands of his arch nemesis Hans Richter (Michael Antonucci), despite his heavily scarred captor’s best efforts Agent Stone lives up to his name and won’t be broken.
The debut episode finds Richter and his henchmen (played by Steven Levine, Daniel Spenser) torturing Agent Stone, their plans to extract information from him are interrupted by some phat beats being played in the car park. One by one the henchmen befriend the man in the car park and fail to get him to cease playing his infectiously funky tunes. The gag of each episode remains the same, Agent Stone is captured and through ‘hilarious circumstances’ he manages to escape the clutches of Hans Richter and his bumbling goons.
I’m a big fan of Above Average and their other new shows like The Trunk (featuring Mike Antonucci and Dan Spenser) and Magic Eye Shark Movie are far more original and dare I say funnier than this. Like all the other creations on Above Average’s YouTube channel, the quality is unquestionably high and the writing is snappy. What I didn’t get on with was just how old fashioned this idea is, there’s nothing wrong with a dose of old school humour but I Expect You To Die seems to be nostalgic for nostalgias sake.
Any maniacally evil super villain worth his salt would just shoot the hero as soon as he captures them, no pause or hesitation just a swift bullet to the frontal lobe. I fear that I should stop here or I may run the risk of unpicking the logic behind each and every movie I hold dear to my heart.
Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels is behind Above Average and many of the writers, cast and crew have pitched in on the various productions housed on the channel. Kate McKinnon pops up in episode 2 of I Expect You To Die, although disappointingly she’s given very little do and not very long to do it. This was a stronger episode that the previous one but the joke that Agent Stone doesn’t really care about anyone felt hauntingly familiar.
Ultimately this feels dangerously close to an SNL sketch rather than an ongoing series with the chance for character development, there’s nothing wrong with a sketch show format and based on the first two episodes the central premise just isn’t strong enough for a long lasting series. Frankly we need another Bond spoof about as much as we need another Harlem Shake video, but that’s just my opinion.
Austin Powers and Johnny English might have been the penultimate nails in the coffin for James Bond parodies, but I Expect You To Die pries in a crowbar and lets in a little bit of fresh air, although the stench of a stale joke is still ripe.