Category Archives: Comedy

Motherland: It’s life, but not as we know it.

motherland 2People kept asking me if I was watching Motherland. In addition to being a mother, I also work with mothers, so it was an obvious question. I did indeed watch it and I enjoyed it, although not as much as I had hoped, nor did I feel the series quite matched up to its pilot. The characters, who appeared there in glorious technicolour, were stretched to their lowest common denominator here.

Take for example, Liz, the sitcom’s only non middle class representative. She must have been toned down, because several people commented on the lack of social diversity, not even noticing she was different. She was still feisty and devil may care, but the quirkiness – which manifested itself in the pilot in a number of ways, such as keeping all her food items in the freezer – seemed to diminish, as she was seen wanly trying to attract one man after another.  Continue reading

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Love, Nina: Don’t ever give her socks

love ninaBritish comedies with a central female character usually fall into two camps. If she is young, she must be impossibly cute and winsome; the main premise being her woeful love life, her quest to get hitched, or her attempts to have a baby. If she is older, it’s possibly all of the former, but more likely her status within her family, her juggling of her exceedingly busy life, or her illicit affair with Roger from Number 36. What drew me to the five-parter ‘Love, Nina’ was that it was less about her traditional role as female and more about a young person coming of age in London in the early eighties, working as a nanny for an eccentric family.

Faye Marsay was the titular heroine, a fairly under the radar actress, who will no doubt pop up more in the future. Cute, but not impossibly so, she captured that sense of gangling awkwardness of the just turned twenty but still feeling like a little girl and not quite knowing how to be grown-up. Padding barefoot between the supermarket, her yoga class and her almost-boyfriend Nunney’s house while trying to fathom her place in the brave new world she found herself in was captivating. She often puts her bare foot in it, frequently embarrassing herself, or acting thoughtlessly, but still very endearing.  Continue reading

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The Joy of Sets: Stella

ruth jones stella(Guest post by Grace C)

I recently made a trip to London to visit a childhood friend of mine. With both of us having moved on to concrete pastures away from our green-belted Scottish haven, it was inevitable that we would end up with a bottle of wine reminiscing long into the night. It’s fair to say that one of the most common causes of our laugher were discussions around the particular oddball characters or town quirks that formed the backdrop of our youth. Like a homemade patchwork quilt, we all have our distinctive squares coloured by different accents, houses or backgrounds, but the feel of it is the same. It provides a familiar comfort, even if at times it can be a little itchy or smothering.

Relating to the nostalgic intimacy of a tight-knit, eccentric community isn’t what drew me to Stella (it was the presence of the talented Ben Glover on the soundtrack that did that), but it is a main part of what got me hooked. It wasn’t a shock that such a vivid and relatable character-led comedy drama would come from Ruth Jones; the whirlwind success of Gavin and Stacey proved she is Queen of the small-town caricature, but there is something about the extra grit and emotion alongside this that gives Stella its own identity. Before the end of the first episode you already feel an attachment to the characters, both those who are there purely as eclectic village furniture and also those who fulfil the more dimensional roles.  Continue reading

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From Corrie and Family Guy to The Chase and Christopher Jefferies: What Our Man has been watching this week

soaps-eastenders-4973-06While I have been nursing my throbbing, swollen, pus filled tonsils back to health during my annual Winter blogging hiatus, I have characteristically managed to keep up with what I normally would have written about, had the lovely germs from Jack Frost allowed me to do so.

Rather than spam the site with a ridiculous amount of articles at once, therefore, I am taking the concise and genius steps of merging my thoughts together in one post so that it’s easier for those of you who tend to skip my articles (I know who you are!).

From glittery costumes  and a very pregnant and non drugged up Kylie on The Chase to Homer Simpson beating up Peter Griffin, my viewing pains and pleasures have been as varied as the voices Emmerdale’s Belle Dingle is currently hearing. So let’s press on folks…the quicker I start, the quicker this will be over for all of us.  Continue reading

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Rev. (Series 3, Episode 1): Present and Engaged

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Having had to try to explain Rev. (NB Guardian Style Guide, it does have a vital full stop in title to indicate pedantic outdated abbrev.) in pub to friend who had never seen the programme before today, I decided it was both too complex and too simple to do it justice. Just watch it, was my advice.

The prologue to this first episode in the new series encapsulated this – a bare 60 seconds that delightfully counterpointed in fast cutaway scenes Alex (Olivia Coleman) giving birth in a taxi and destroying the otherwise poised calm of the Archdeacon (Simon McBurney), with the wedding of the headteacher (Lucy Liemann), object of Tom Hollander’s fantasy lust, ending with his trademark desperate run down the streets of East London to be present at the birth.

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The Simpsons: Krabappel of my eye

krabappel-simpsons-goodbye-660While there is much debate over the quality of this generation’s Simpsons episodes, fans of the show, both current and former, were united in their respect for much loved voice artist Marcia Wallace, who recently passed away.

Last week’s new Simpsons outing, an otherwise relatively bland affair involving another reprise by Kelsey Grammar as Sideshow Bob, officially laid Marcia’s beloved alter ego, Edna Krabappel, to rest, in a surprisingly apt and touching closing scene.

Mrs Krabappel has been a constant in The Simpsons since its  early conception and, over the years, the writers and Marcia managed to create a complex and layered character, riddled with flaws, but who was ultimately a warm hearted person. Edna was a sour, sarcastic and pessimistic teacher, who had lost her passion for her vocation long ago. But as we delved deeper into her barbed psyche, we discovered a lonely character, desperate for affection who, beneath her bitter exterior, showed lovely moments of genuinely caring for her students; even mortal nemesis Bart.   Continue reading

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Count Arthur Strong: The windmills of his mind

Count Arthur Strong - SpecialsBulent’s cafe found itself in the middle of a riot this week in Count Arthur Strong, as an angry mob smashed the place up. We didn’t see any of that – it was just a plot device to get the regular cast members to take refuge in the panic room of Bulent’s storage area, where they were subjected to the ultimate horror – Arthur “putting on a little show.”

And what a show it was. Arthur’s rendition of The Windmills Of Your Mind will surely live long in the minds of anyone who witnessed it, but was probably best experienced by Katya, who was asleep at the time.

We’re half way through the current series, and it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in years. It’s pleasingly old-fashioned – the comedy, while occasionally surreal, is firmly based in the characters. Count Arthur Strong himself, as played by Steve Delaney, reminds me of classic comedy characters like Frank Spencer and Basil Fawlty – his own view of himself is totally at odds with how others see him, and this is the source of a lot of the comedy, as is his own special way with the English language. He has excellent support from Rory Kinnear, who plays Michael, the son of Arthur’s old comedy partner. Michael’s life seems rather lonely and empty, so against his better judgement he’s drawn into Arthur’s little world, a lot of which is centred on Bulent’s cafe. Michael’s attraction to Bulent’s sister, Sinem, is one of the continuing story threads.

If you haven’t seen it (and it is on at the same time as Holby these days), get to iPlayer immediately and start watching from episode 1.

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