Did we like it?
While a little contrived, overlong and melodramatic, the final part of the Perfect Day trilogy was saved by the fine acting of Claire Goose, Aidan McArdle, Tom Goodman-Hill, Claire Keelan, Bruce MacKinnon and Kate Ashfield, and more conflict (of the emotional kind) than you would have found at the Battle of Waterloo.
What was good about it?
• Each of the main characters was writhing internally with self-doubt, a set-up that provoked plenty of dramatic conflict. The conflicts raged between Tom and Amy over his envy at her enduring affection for her recently deceased ex-lover Pete, who was once one of his best friends until he tried to steal Amy from him at their wedding.
• Meanwhile, Rob’s overwhelming anxiety was causing him to act in a peculiar manner by switching lights off a certain amount of times before going to bed, all of which annoyed his girlfriend Rachel as she mused whether or not to marry him. But ultimately, it was her selfishness that caused them to split. Of course, such a split had been signposted by Rob’s optimism that “everything will be OK once we’re married.” A delusion that contrasted neatly with Tom and Amy’s problems.
• And the pregnant Claire found herself in the dilemma of whether she should tell her on/off lover Billy that he was going to become a father. Her dilemma, she initially resolved was because of Billy’s annoying habits, but by the start of the weekend she had decided that their tempestuous relationship was her fault and was determined not to lose her temper with him. However, after Billy droned an anecdote at the wake to Pete’s father she snapped at him, and when he commandeered the organising of a farewell picnic from Pete’s mother Claire realised her first instinct was right and dumped him once and for all.
• The effect the gang had on Pete’s grieving parents was also responsible for some great scenes. Pete’s mother still doted on Amy, remarking that Pete had “never stopped loving” her. Her upset when any of Pete’s friends talked gushingly of their future plans, of having children or getting married, was conveyed to the viewers with great empathy. Especially, as later we learned that she did indeed have the grandchild she thought she would never have after the premature deaths of both her children, being the offspring of one of Pete’s many brief, romantic dalliances.
• Pete’s traditionalist father was even more oblivious to his son’s philandering ways than his mother and slowly melted from his icy curtness to a gradual acceptance that his son may not have been as virtuous as an arch-angel.
What was bad about it?
• The scene when the gang creep into the chapel to view Pete’s body, only to be confronted with the corpse of an old lady after Rob ushered his friends into the wrong hall of the chapel was utterly predictable.
• While the characters were clearly defined and the roles well-acted, there was a sore ulcer that blighted everything; namely, that too many of the characters were dominated by a single trait, that while created dramatic conflict became irritating because of the overly-contrived nature. Sure, Rob had some scenes of touching affection for his dead best friend such as his reckless but heartfelt eulogy, but his over anxiety was overdone as he turned off lights, fretted over the funeral arrangements and managed to bring a bloodstained shirt to wear for the funeral. And Rachel’s selfishness, not too apparent in the previous episodes, was exaggerated to enable to Rob to split with her and link up with Claire, while Billy’s insensitivity to others was confusing as it morphed a sympathetic character into a bugbear.
• But the most infuriating scripting lapse of all was Tom’s jealousy over Amy’s affection for Pete. He wrongly assumed she still loved Pete, made worse by her admission that she was once pregnant by him (implying he was infertile) and by Pete bequeathing her all his worldly possessions, and suffered a tantrum that lasted most of the drama. All of which would have been all very well as this was the most gripping plot strand, but inexplicably Tom’s tantrum meant he stayed away from the funeral and subsequent wake essentially reducing the lead role to little more than a cameo.
• Given that throughout each of the three episodes, most of the gang seem to be constantly bickering with one another, the profound comradeship that is at the root of the whole trilogy was starting to lose its credibility. But we suppose the very fact we watched the whole trilogy and can actually make that statement is perhaps testament to it being a pretty high quality drama.