In charting the evolution of social media and the impact it holds in our day to day lives, it must be said that one of its key legacies is the manner in which it has helped democratize content and the process of creating it. There’s a content war going on between Nigeria’s biggest commercial banks via their media offshoots. Koye Kekere-Ekun is one of those to have benefited from this. His K10 persona, like Falz’s comedy, has served (to an extent) as a sound map of the times. It also helps that he’s a quite charismatic chap so the audience is inclined to rooting for him. The next step in his evolution is the Red TV and Sess Productions produced Inspector K.
The plot of the show is simple: Inspector K is supposed to be an efficient Inspector who makes use of the unconventional in crime solving. The first episode attempts to lay the the foundation for the show. The scene is set at some industry party with a couple of Lagos big boys and girls lurking about. There’s the Director who spends the whole time boring his lady friend with some fake deep gems. A popular female blogger drops dead at the party not too long after taking alcohol in the face in a manner reminiscent of the great reality show of our age, Love and Hip Hop. Inspector K rides in on his scooter to save the day.
It’s becoming a recurring theme on the Nigerian culture circuit where artists and creators are judged almost exclusively on intentions. So take Toke Makinwa’s On Becoming that I’ll describe politely as a pamphlet masquerading as a book receiving the praise it did because it stood out as an example of a visible woman charting the scum that is the Nigerian man. Or The Wedding Party which has received acclaim for deploying a big budget and good quality cameras to tell a story that most Nigerians can relate to but is ultimately ridden with a significant number of plot fails. Inspector K tries to bring comedic value to the market but its future doesn’t particularly look promising. The 17 minute first episode goes on too long and detracts from the narrative. The dialogue between the Policemen is way too boring for it to have taken as long as it did and Inspector K’s appearance is unnecessarily long winded. The second episode isn’t any better. A lot of the writing is frankly bad. The acting too leaves a lot to be desired. There was one particular exchange that was clearly supposed to end in a punchline but unraveled in such desperate fashion I felt like crying out of solidarity. I almost laughed at the scene where one of Inspector K’s proteges is described as a “millennial who wants to change the force by making waves” confusing the Policemen who think it’s a reference to Makida Moka’s character- Melanie but the execution was so laboured. In some parts, it’s hard to believe Inspector K and his interviewees were actually in the same room when the scenes were shot (The scene where he interviews Bolly is the worst). As an aside, this dearth in quality seems to be an industry wide issue. It’s a recurring theme with a lot of the online shows that the writing, acting and directing is sub par. Skinny Girl in Transit is really in its own lane. It also feels like there’s an over eagerness to create scripted shows. Mr Kekere Ekun for instance, doesn’t really strike me as a natural actor. He’d be better suited for stand up or a news review show.
There’s hidden commentary and characterisation that’s the actual reality of Lagos living (Nigeria generally) to suggest that there was an attempt at proper characterization and background work. A lot of it feels familiar. From TJ the Filmmaker (word on the streets is it was inspired by Clarence Peters) boring his date using his artistic linguistic field to the manager Bollylomo plays who’s trying so hard to show you he’s important. There’s the scene where some clubgoer tries to give Bolly strategy for his artist that inevitably leads to: Cut me a cheque. We’ve all had that conversation in the club. The Nigerian Police and its ineptitude is well satirized. We all have that co worker who thinks he’s smarter than he is as seen with the 9 to 5 Cop, 5 to 12 Social Media Entrepreneur. An Imelachukwu who anglicizes her name to Melanie. That said, I don’t think any popular artist will go around describing himself as “Mr Steal Your Mummy.”
Back to the point about social media and its dictatorial power, we see its hand here with the employment of Makida Moka and Bollylomo as cast members. It also comes through in the dialogue where there are references to cliched Twitter flash points like the Mainland/Island wars and the IJGB demographic. The death of a female Blogger with a middle finger attitude to the celebrities she covers is an undisguised reference to the best Nigerian example of the commercialization of social media. The YouTube format is designed for an audience with short attention spans and so as to pass on the complexities, depth and nuance that longer shows tend to take. For this to make sense, the writing has to be direct. No scene must go to waste. Every line and action must be well thought and intended. Inspector K lacks that finesse and direction and ends up flat… like cheap alcohol… or @swagprefect’s miniature goodies. Your choice.