Oh no, Minister. While there were definitely concerns sitting down to the revived Yes, Prime Minister, both mind and heart were most definitely open. Sadly, what could have been a triumphant return for one of the best British sitcoms is undone by bad decisions and ruinous execution.
First the good things. There are lines here that will make you laugh. Of the hung parliament? "Hanging's too good for them." Of handing over economic sovereignty to Brussels? "What if I need to inflate to get re-elected?!" In breaking away from Paul Eddington, David Haig's Jim Hacker is the standout of the main trio.
> 'Yes Minister', 'Yes, Prime Minister': Tube Talk Gold
Even a terrible moment when Hacker starts spewing about our European cousins in a quite unrealistic way (Krauts, Wops, Dagos, Frogs), is brilliantly undercut by Chris Larkin's Bernard Woolley urging him to stop using those "vintage pejorative epithets". But that's about it.
The specificity of the new show hits you in the face straight away. Jim Hacker heads up a coalition government struggling with the Euro crisis. While South Park at its most satirical excelled at ripping apart the last fortnight and The Thick of It seemed to parody the future, classic Yes, Minister's strength was its timelessness. This reboot feels like it's struggling to keep up.
This isn't a case of us refusing to accept the revived show because of the existence of its predecessor, but Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn forcing us to keep thinking of it, over and over again. They've recycled not only the characters and their mannerisms but also snippets of dialogues and - on occasion - the odd gag.
One of the most telling moments occurs when Sir Humph lectures the PM on the hierarchy and structure of the EU. He does the talking-steadily-and-seemingly-in-circles-thing. He takes his breaths at the right time. He gets whoops of laughter from the studio audience. But the content doesn't actually warrant him doing the "bit".
Compared to the classic "secretaries" speech from the first ever episode it's just embarrassing. It's just talking for a long time about something dull. It simply doesn't work.
There are other little nods to the original show. A Paxo-esque interview which again, doesn't compare to the Ludo Kennedy moments from way back when. References to "frank exchanges of views". Bernard doing his Latin bit, to Hacker's confusion.
Sometimes it feels like an attempt to draw knowing laughter, but Hacker almost immediately finding an important document in a DVLA file in a fifth red box is just a less funny, cut-to-the-end version of the same joke we've seen before.
One mistake was giving Hacker the top job straight away. Hacker Mk I could be bought as the PM after we grew to accept him via Eddington's stumbling successes. A Yes Minister reboot would have let the trio start smaller, rather than forcing them immediately into the Big Picture. Better still would have been to start from scratch - Yes, Minister with new characters.
A stage play is another universe where we can accept a new Sir Humphrey, Bernard and Jim Hacker. TV is less forgiving. In using the classic characters and forcing Henry Goodman to imitate Nigel Hawthorne and have Larkin "do" Derek Fowlds, its creators have sadly strangled the revival at birth.