Peep Show, Channel 4

by | Apr 13, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

The marvellous misanthropists continue to provide an x-ray of the misery of modern Britain either through the eyes of unwilling conformist Mark or debauched wastrel Jez.

What was good about it?

• Despite this being the fourth series, the palpable truth that Jez and Mark don’t like one another yet live in each other’s pockets hasn’t made this superb comedy any less believable.

• Both of the delightfully misnomered ‘El Dude Brothers’ have moved on and developed. The start of this episode saw Mark, sporting a 1990s goatee beard, and fiancée Sophie looking at gifts to put on their wedding lists – an activity that caused Mark to break out in one of his hilarious paroxysm of self-doubt and self-loathing. “How the f**k did it come to this?” he wondered. “I’m marrying a woman I may not love and I’ve got fashionable hair all over my face.”

• Of course, part of Mark adores the mundanity of shopping for wedding list gifts as it makes him feel part of the human race and helps assuage his loneliness, a condition he concedes is the real motivation for marrying Sophie. When he returns to the flat, a scornful Jez derides him for marrying a woman he doesn’t love, Mark fends off his assault by chirping, “I picked up Music of the Royal Tournament for £2.99!” This seems to be a reference that Mark has been shopping for music, or ‘CDs’, at a department store such as Woolworth’s that is as much a symptom of brain death as a flatlining life support machine in casualty.

• But Mark comforts himself in the life-draining banalities of modern life, which he in truth despises, such as the “ironic veneration of tyrants”, after Sophie had picked out a Chairman Mao T-shirt for him, and trite phrases employed by people whose argot exists solely of words used by local radio DJs. “It’s all good, my friend, it’s all good,” he replied to Jez, illustrating how much he has succumbed to social orthodoxy give his previous resistance to similar abuses of the English language (“It’s ‘do the mathS’, Jez!”).

• Jez’s disgust that, upon arriving at Sophie’s parent’s country pile with Mark, he discovers that he is there simply to be befriended by Sophie’s misfit brother Ian. “I’m the rubber toy brought for the weirdo to chew on.”

• But the funniest sequence of the show was the slapstick when Mark and Jez went out hunting with Sophie’s austere father. Mark luckily shot down a bird. “I got it! I got it! I got it!” squealed Mark. “Congratulations,” Jez caustically replied. “You killed a sentient being.”

• But Mark had only winged it and Sophie’s father insisted he finish it off by wringing its neck. The ever-inept Mark twisted the neck too hard causing the head to come off and blood gush everywhere. An oblivious Sophie approached to offer teas and coffees, to which Jez sardonically remarked: “No teas for the beastmaster, thanks. He feasts on the blood of his prey.”

• At night, Mark had just got in after a tortuous night at the pub alone with Sophie’s father and began to confess his doubts about the marriage to Jez. Hearing someone approaching outside their room, Mark demands that Jez starts snoring to discourage them from coming in. An non-plussed Jez starts grunting pathetically and Sophie’s mum walks in to see Jez snoring even though he’s still wide awake.

What was bad about it?

• Despite a few decent gags, Jez’s two sub-plots of having to be mates with Sophie’s brother and being seduced, via home-made jam, by Sophie’s mum seemed to be merely things to keep him occupied as neither really brought out the very worst in Jez. While he did fall victim to Sophie’s mum, it only yielded laughs in the form of Mark’s apoplectic rant (“She’s not out of Hollyoaks! She’s probably got a ration book”), and Sophie’s brother was as irritating to the viewers as he was to Jez.

• And as the second half of the episode dealt with the consequences of the actions of Mark and Jez, there were fewer of the brilliant internal monologues with only Mark’s vacillation over his love for Sophie, after realising they were being offered her gran’s luxury home as a wedding gift, offering the same quality as earlier on.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

13/04/2007

Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!

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