Skäggprogrammen (1963)

Extent

Review applies to the second episode (“Segment”) and fragments from the other four, including the entire Battle of Lützen mockumentary (from “Fasad”).

Categorization

TV comedy series of 5 approximately half-hour shows. The individual shows were called “Fasad”, “Segment”, “Modul”, “Relief” and “Fundament” in that order (in English: “Facade”, “Segment”, “Module”, “Relief” in an artistic sense, as in bas-relief, and “Foundation”). They had no overarching name, despite featuring the same actors as the same characters in roughly the same situation throughout.

Subject

Six black-suited, bearded men (and from the second episode, one woman, then rather fewer men) dryly pitch and review a variety of ideas and pilots for possible new shows on national television.

Commentary

This series, popularly dubbed “The Beard Shows”, was controversial and gained many fans for its iconoclastic humour and taste. It is very similar to Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969), but much slower and more consistently framed. By running so much earlier than Flying Circus, and in late-to-get-TV Sweden, the series managed to appear on the only television channel the country had at the time, thus stealing the voice of authority. This added to the impact in a way that subsequent metatelevisual satire has not had the opportunity to replicate. One noteworthy use of this particular advantage was a segment revealing the identity of the killer in a handful of the latest best-selling crime novels.

The most obvious prototypically Pythonesque figure began appearing in the fourth program. It was an animated cut-out from an old French encyclopaedia, loudly burping, very much in the manner of Terry Gilliam’s interludes. Incidentally, the Swedish word for “celebrity” (or “celeb”; kändis) was coined on this show.

fiction moving picture series