Premieres Saturday, June 21 at 9pm on BBC America.
Sacha Braon Cohen may not have invented the comic art art of playing a character among real people, but the success of Borat makes him the automatic comparison for anyone that tries the same schtick, an uncomfortably high bar to clear. In BBC America's first crack at comedy, they send a pair of actors posing as distant relatives of the British royal family out into wild yonder of the United States to get into some mischief. While it might not reach Cohen levels of hilarity, there's potential for laughs.
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Georgie and Poppy Carlton (Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart) are a brother and sister who have recently lost their father in a shooting accident. They're far down in the line of succession to the throne (in the first episode it's 50th and 51st but by the second, they've been pushed down to 83rd and 84th, as some royals got busy) and quite sheltered in their upbringing. It was their father's dying wish that they tour America to expand their horizons and learn about the culture.
The two start off by visiting Hollywood, which includes the complicated task of learning how to drive an American car, followed by a few brushes with fame. They meet up with Fabio, who's hawking nutritional supplements at the local Whole Foods and later take a trip to the set of The Bold and the Beautiful, where Poppy attempts to show off her acting skills. Watching the fake royals hang out with artificial faces of Hollywood doesn't lead to a whole lot of laugh-out-loud humor. It's occasionally amusing, but this brand of humor works better with people who are less accustomed to having cameras track their every moves.
The second episode's trek to Boston is more fruitful. A trip to a local Tea Party meeting and participation in a Revolutionary War re-enactment make for more successful comic stunts, even if they do run on. Some of the best jokes to come out of the Carltons' mouths are in response to a docent teaching them about Paul Revere.
The show never succeeds in finding any great comic opportunities from their real-world marks, as if everyone they encounter has already entertained the idea that this might actually be a hoax. Gamble and Hoggart are a funny duo, though, and seem more than capable of making this concept work. If only they had some worthy playmates.