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Argumental is an original commission from the Dave Channel. It has since been repeated late night on BBC Two. Hosted by John Sargent, it is a type of comedy panel game, focussing on two teams of paired comedians competing in a sort of debating contest. One team is captained by Marcus Brigstocke, the other by Rufus Hound. Their comedian guests are surprisingly high profile and have included Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr, Dara O'Briain, Phill Jupitus and Johnny Vegas.
The show is split into a number of rounds. The winning team of the rounds are determined by votes from the live studio audience. The first round involves a member from each team arguing for or against a particular motion. Next is a round where a member of each team argues a motion whilst incorporating random images presented on a large screen around them - some of which are very obscure.
Following this is the 'flip flop' round - where a motion is given to a contestant and then they start being either for or against it, then flipping to the other side of the argument when indicated to by the buzzer. Next a member of the team will argue a position on an issue, indicated either by a cardboard cutout on stage or a real life representation. Probably the most famous example of this is the first episode of the second series where in addition to a couple of naturists being invited on stage, Rufus Hound then went on to follow in their example, took all his clothes off and finished his debate that way. It is then announced who the winning team are.
The show is rounded off by a free for all where humorous pictures are shown on screen and contestants are invited to describe what the image represents an argument for or against.
The standard of the contestants and high production value of the show belie its smaller digital channel origins - however, it does not quite live up to his appearances. It is rather hit-and-miss I'm afraid and often becomes less than witty leaning perhaps too far towards the new standard set by the likes of 'Mock The Week' with just a number of comedians shouting over each other to see who is funniest. This, too often, means that the arguments are just not funny enough and perhaps not to the standard that you would expect from the guests involved. The aforementioned Rufus Hound nudity smacked slightly of desperation. However, Hound and Brigstocke are good team captains and seem to have a rapport and a friendly rivalry. The presence of John Sargent is neither here or there as he does not really do much or say much.
Ultimately, despite the best efforts of the people involved, it is just too unwieldy to be consistently funny, and after watching a few shows it all just feels a bit predictable. That is not to say that it does not have a moment, but after watching the first series and half somewhat religiously I have to say that I have lost interest and stopped watching. I believe that it has been very successful and another series has been commissioned, and it is good to see channels like Dave which shows some great comedy repeats having a go at creating their own. This is not a terrible programme, just lacking the fluidity and professionalism that you might expect.