It’s the question on everyone’s lips. Most would say the answer is obvious, but not Frank Law. It’s a question that keeps him awake at night, one which haunts him to this day. As the protagonist of 80s neo-noir detective procedural Law of the Land, Frank is battling personal demons to which the Hitler case offers escape. In a way, Hitler also offers an escape to the show itself, the central investigation just stopping it short of falling into the clutches of generic sketch comedy.
The show might not quite be worth the watch were it not for the question of Who Shot Hitler? and how it is cleverly integrated into the sketches.
The quartet, all clad in tight yellow bottoms of varying length, showcase their versatility as comedic performers as they lead us through a collection of sketches which have a pretty even hit-miss split. The big theme (other than Hitler) that the Banana Collective seem to have concerned themselves with is lad culture and how it is at constant odds with the modern world. They cleverly skewer macho posturing in sketches which see guys applying suncream to each other’s backs, struggling with builder banter and - in the show’s definite highlight - using ‘no homo’ to defuse escalating situations. When the hour shifts away from its central ideas, it tends to hit weak spots, best demonstrated when the actors play themselves. The cast manage to fall into the rote formula of being either the irate one, the vacant one, the mediator or the one who is relentlessly abused by the others.
The show might not quite be worth the watch were it not for the question of Who Shot Hitler? and how it is cleverly integrated into the sketches. We drop in on Law’s investigation in video segments every few sketches, which cumulatively become a very enjoyable pastiche of the cop show genre, made more funny by the homemade feel. The film work really comes into its own when the events of the preceding live-action sketches appear in the plot of Law of Land, having the effect of increasing audience attention in the comedy that wasn’t pre-taped. This became necessary as the sketches had a tendency to drag.
Banana Collective’s playing with the sketch form is most welcome, they just need to focus on streamlining the execution of their clever ideas. As for who shot Hitler? Well, I guarantee the answer will surprise you.