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Saturday, 10 January 2009

Plus One, Channel 4

Did we like it?
The ever-impressive Daniel Mays was brilliant in the main role of this unoriginal comedy that feeds on the lifeblood of The Worst Week of My Life, and similar urban catastrophe sitcoms, and because of this and a strong supporting cast, we found it very funny.

What was good about it?
• We vaguely recall the pilot of this, and remember it as a more sedate affair but with the same central premise – Duncan FromBlue has stolen Rob’s girlfriend, and he will do anything to get her back, or failing that, make her as jealous as is humanely possible.
• The fantasy sequences as Rob firstly devises a plan and then dreams of the stir it would cause at Duncan and Linsey’s wedding. These moments are particularly acute as they tap into the way in which we’ve certainly dealt with the grief of a broken heart in the past, as you scour your imagination to prove to the ex how their actions have improved your life rather than stoning it to death.
• The first one saw a mock-up of the Goldfinger scene where James Bond is strapped down and taunted by the villain before being imperilled by a laser beam. Here Rob was tortured by Duncan FromBlue (playing himself pretty well, with a nice comic touch), who forced him to watch Blue videos. “You’ll never get away with this, FromBlue!” raged Rob.
• Mays plays Rob as a kind of more yobbish version of Ben Miller’s Howard Steel from Worst Week…, he is so determined in his efforts to thwart the nuptials of Duncan and Linsey that his enthusiasm and excitability often lead him into horrid faux pas, which are then followed by further faux pas as he tries to extricate himself from the dilemma.
• Sometimes it can appear a little manufactured and predictable but many of them were funny. For example, the moment he visited Duncan’s first love’s hairdressers and her mother said he could come upstairs to see her, we knew she would be an (ex-)girlfriend in a coma but was redeemed when the slovenly, slobbish Rob somehow managed to pledge to her mother that he would run in a charity race for her – which took place two days later.
• Or when he tried to charm Nicola (Susie Amy), the most beautiful girl from his schooldays. Exchanging memories, Rob wandered off on a rant about a boy in his year who had black nipples – “Johnny Black Nips”. Predictably, the boy was Nicola’s brother who was so traumatised by the bullying “that’s he’s no longer my brother, she’s now known as Mandy”. “Mandy Black Nips?” Rob enquired.
• The apparent Good Samaritan who comes to Rob’s aid after a tramp steals his trainers (after he knocked himself out during the charity run). At first he offers him money for a cup of tea, and then, in the same tone, offers him some drugs before eventually kicking him in the nuts and running off.
• The rest of the cast are the typical bedrock of any good sitcom – Rob’s brother Rich (Nigel Harman), a vulgar teacher with a penchant for his female pupils once they’ve left school; Ingrid Oliver as Rob’s sensible sister; Steve John Shepherd as his creepy photographer friend; and Ruth Bradley as his work colleague Laura, who is far more attractive than any of the girl’s Rob fantasises about, and who will probably eventually end up with him.
• The Cure’s Boys Don’t Cry as the theme tune.

What was bad about it?
• After the assault by the Good Samaritan, Rob stumbles on rubbing his bruised testicles straight into the path of a young girl who screams, while her father vengefully pursues Rob as a “paedophile”. While the predictable nature of some of the script was manipulated to amusing effect, this was just one staged vignette too far.
• Even though Nicola was talked up as the most beautiful girl in Rob’s school, she was made ugly by her desire to work with Razorlight.

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