Did we like it?
This eccentric, and at times surreal, comedy from ITV was certainly flawed and uneven – but thankfully it was different. At a time when the channel is in dire need of producing something original and creative, Bonkers can at least be viewed as an enjoyable step in the right direction.
What was good about it?
• Writer Sally Wainwright has assembled a great acting ensemble who were all well cast as a wide range of dysfunctional characters. Liza Tarbuck proved to be a thoroughly deserved leading lady in Helen, deftly handling the peculiar comedy whilst simultaneously appearing credible as an unsatisfied suburban wife. Plus any programme with Oxo diva Lynda Bellingham in it is obviously well worth a watch.
• The speed of the bright and breezy narrative was a treat and didn’t allow for any boredom or lethargy.
• Whilst sometimes treading dangerously close to Shirley Valentine territory, Liza’s voiceover and ironic asides to the camera did work well and made for some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. Her blunt delivery of “Bollocks!” when faced with the predicament of whether or not to eat a calorific black forest gateau was particularly pleasing.
• The smutty script was refreshing, especially on a Thursday night and on the channel that brought us Where The Heart Is and Heartbeat. Frank discussions about microscopic penises, strap-ons and G-spots certainly made this show stand out from usual sitcom fare.
• On being asked what she did for a living, Helen’s brilliantly posh neighbour replied, “I deal with hypochondriacs – I’m a GP”
• The plethora of male nudity was a big bonus and Helen’s hunky son will continue to be a draw as the series progresses.
What was bad about it?
• It was all a little bit too zany for its own good. While some of the offbeat comedy worked, at other times Wainwright’s script had flashes of Groovy Dad syndrome – trying a little too hard to be original and funny. The worst case of this was the frankly baffling finale where Helen’s favourite TV heartthrob was discovered to be in a coma but simultaneously living in her house.
• Similarly, the programme’s affection for comedy of errors proved to be a little irritating by the end of 60 minutes (there are only so many embarrassing gaffes one can take). The series will really have to broaden out in its characterisation and plot if it is to be a success.
• Linda Bellingham was only in it for five minutes!