When it comes to stories set in strange and exotic places, I tend to be more of a science fiction fan. I prefer such worlds to be actual planets – out there somewhere in the vastness of space, as opposed to some magical realm that apparently exists on our Earth, but in some other dimension, possibly on the other side of a wardrobe. George R R Martin is perhaps and most successful writer to plough this particular furrow. Game of Thrones is, I believe, still the most watched television show in the world – our world, that is.
But there are a few too many of these sword and sorcery/Dungeons and Dragons efforts around at the moment. Consequently, there were low expectations of the comedy show Zapped on Dave – especially as it was preceded by the similar Tripped not that long ago. Both shows involve an ordinary guy from our world (played by a cast member from The Inbetweeners in both instances, incidentally). Both young fellows are abruptly catapulted into a fantasy land in another dimension and then have to make the best of things in their new surroundings while trying to find the right spell to get themselves back home.
Two sit-coms on the same theme may be a trifle underwhelming for some viewers. However, there are reasons to be cheerful about Zapped’s second series. The strange medieval city of Munty to which our hero, Brian (James Buckley, pictured), is transported is an entertaining and amusing place. The local tavern, kept by Herman (Lois Emerick), has two jugs on its sign and glories in the name of The Jug And The Other Jug. Other absurdities include an incompetent soothsayer, Barbara (Sharon Rooney) and a couple of thuggish men-at-arms who sport fairy wings.
Another nice touch is that Brian feels the need to make up stories about his exploits and accomplishments in his previous existence; telling the citizens of Munty how he won Wimbledon and Strictly Come Dancing, for instance
As he recounts these exaggerated tales, so we learn more and more about this strange city’s practices and culture – its vampire community and its Pear Festival.
That is possibly the key difference between Tripped and Zapped. In the former, the hero is constantly sliding across dimensional barriers from one fantasy land to another. Zapped concentrates on the same mythical place, building up the detail in each episode. Some of its quirky and imaginative aspects may win over the sceptics. And, as the icing on the cake (of sorts), Sylvester McCoy makes a guest appearance as The Protector, ruler of Munty.