When BBC Three’s move online was first announced a lot of the objections were due to the fact that the channel had spawned a plethora of classic comedy. From Little Britain to Bad Education via Gavin and Stacey; BBC Three comic output has been incredibly strong however its current sitcoms don’t really get the attention they deserve. Whilst the ever-improving Uncle is currently in the midst of its second series, tonight sees the return of BBC Three’s other comic gems.
Although about to enter its third year, I feel as if bomb-disposal sitcom Bluestone 42 has never really got the attention it deserves. Evoking memories of classics such as Dad’s Army and It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, Bluestone 42 focuses on a mismatched bunch of characters who are all part of the same bomb-disposal unit. Over the past two series we’ve seen their leader; Oliver Chris‘ Captain Nick Medhurst, attempt to rally his team together and deal with his feelings for Kelly Adams’ sexy pastor Mary. Series two also focused on the struggle between blue-blooded Nick and his council estate-raised new number two Gordon ‘Towerblock’ House (Matthew Lewis). Over time both Nick and Towerblock put their differences aside whilst the former also finally got together with Mary. However, the final scene saw tragedy strike for Bluestone 42 when the tank they were travelling in was hit by an IED.
Series three picks up immediately where series two left off as the team attempt to deal with their current circumstances. Despite this being a sitcom, Bluestone 42 is unflinching in its depiction of war and at times director David Sant shot the episode as if it were a fly-on-the-wall documentary. This added a certain amount of realism to the first scene in which the camera focused on the characters as they gradually came round and had to decide what to do next. James Cary and Richard Hurst’s script smacked of realism as Nick had to make an on-the-spot decision about what to do next. Later, Towerblock faced a dilemma when Nick suffered a head injury and he was briefly thrust into the spotlight. With the feisty Corporal Bird (Katie Lyons) arguing that a medic attends to the fallen Captain, Towerblock initially argued that they continue to follow Nick’s orders.
Despite having bleaker moments than most sitcoms,it certainly packs in plenty of laughs over its thirty minute running time. One of the elements I enjoy most about the series as a whole is the way it employs gallows humour in order to lighten the mood. The lines were blurred between humour and realism in this episode after Nick comes round and the gang can’t decide whether or not he’s joking about having a concussion. Meanwhile the arrogant Simon (Stephen Wight) can’t help but annoy the group further by commenting on their lucky break; a running gag that ends with an incredibly funny moment involving ipod speakers. Idiotic privates Mac and Rocket (Jamie Quinn and Scott Hoatson) add a juvenile air to proceedings by conducting an ongoing game of punching each other when the other least suspects it.
Judging from this first episode alone, the series has been given a fresh coat of paint so to speak as it was revealed that Mary has left the camp. Whilst a new padre has already arrived, next week will see The Job Lot’s Laura Aikman debut as high-threat bomb-disposal expert Ellen Best. Additionally, the cast have said that this third run of Bluestone 42 will deal with the characters looking forward to what they’ll do once the Brits leave Afghanistan. This to me seems as if we’re nearing the end of Bluestone 42 as a show about British soldiers in Afghanistan will be a bit hard to buy now there are hardly any troops left there.
But for now at least Bluestone 42 looks to continue to deliver quality episodes which fans of the show like myself have become accustomed to. Even though the low-grade humour employed by Mac and Rocket is a bit too much for me at times, I still think there’s a lot to love about this sitcom. The chemistry between the cast is the best it’s ever been whilst the situations that the characters find themselves in feel particularly real at times. Ultimately what I like about the show is that it focuses on modern day situations but at the same time feels quite traditional and isn’t prone to the same sort of yoof humour that we’ve seen from a lot of other BBC Three sitcoms. Although things don’t look good for the future of the series, I’m just hoping that this series is as good as the two that have come before it. If all goes well then Bluestone 42 will go off the air with a bang and hopefully this time it will be a figurative rather than a literal one.
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