Louis Theroux has been away from TV for a while. I’ve not missed him. He kicked off his new series of BBC2 documentaries with a trip to Las Vegas last night and the publicity suckered me in. After a long break from TV, with the whole world and its nutcases at the mercy of his lens, he goes there. Genius producing. Can you imagine the planning meetings that went into that? Series Producer: “Hey, the Hilton are offering us a freebie to Vegas for a few on-screen plugs, let’s go, do the strip see some strippers.” Louis: “Errrm. Yeah. Well. Hmmm. Yeah.”
But, hey, no matter the jam-packed travel library in existence on Vegas – all made possible with contra-deal kick backs – it is so full of madness and characters that any hack with a camcorder and a decent eye for a story should come up with some entertaining footage and interviews. But not Louis. He couldn’t interview a Martian and get a story if one tugged on his baggy sweater.
For this show, Louis followed a few hapless gamblers and showed them to be hopeless losers. Gosh, sad gamblers found in Vegas, they lose money. I was staggered. Then Louis played the tables himself – twice. Original, imaginative. In terms of creativity, this show was tantamount to going on a junket to Vegas and staying at the airport to play the first 25 cent slot machine you see, then coming home.
If this loser of a show was the lead doc in the series, I doubt I will gamble any more time on Louis. He has no basic sense of how to ask questions or develop an interview with any depth. And once you are bored of his limp, whimpering delivery, and over-played laid back approach – if indeed you ever liked it – there is nowhere to go. I’ve always felt he was over-rated.