As a title, Roger and Val Have Just Got In sums up the premise of this new comedy nicely. We get to spend half an hour with middle-aged, middle-class couple Roger and Val (Alfred Molina and Dawn French) after they’ve got home from work. Then we get to smile a lot and chuckle a little bit as we recognise that they’re having exactly the same conversations and doing exactly the same sorts of things that we do when we get home from work.
In the first episode, their hoover had broken, and the owner of the independent shop they’d bought it from (cocking a middle-class snook at big business chain stores) wouldn’t do anything about it without sight of the guarantee. But where was the guarantee? Val had already searched the more easily accessible places, but by the time Roger returned, the frightening truth was apparent – the guarantee was in The Big Drawer.
We’ve all got (at least) one of these Big Drawers – full of everything that seemed too precious to throw away at the time, until it became too full to sort through. Roger and Val’s root through theirs uncovers little souvenirs like a stone Roger once gave her on holiday. The Big Drawer is like a time capsule of their life together, and it prompts Val to speculate on how it’ll all become meaningless after they both die, and how she doesn’t want strangers going through her personal stuff. It’s apparent that the couple are childless, but they have a niece and nephew whom they hope will treat their belongings with respect once they’ve gone (Val says she’s a “bedrock” to these two because she knows when their birthdays are. “Mark’s is the 17th of September and Birdie’s is the… ffnnf of May”). Even so, they won’t understand the meaning of something like an ordinary seaside pebble, which is only important in the shared history of Roger and Val.
So already, as in all the best comedy, Roger and Val has its poignant side. There are plenty of laughs (not gut-busters – as I said, this is more of a warm chuckle-type comedy than a laff riot), mainly to do with Roger’s insistence on calling up “Esther from Legal” for legal advice about the hoover, and insisting on putting a thoroughly embarrassed Val on the line.
Dawn French does her usual cuddly, face-pulling routine. Alfred Molina seems a bit less comfortable, but then Roger is not a “comfortable” sort of man – slightly paranoid, somewhat stiff, it’s obvious that Val is the driving force in their relationship. The script goes off on some surreal tangents and sometimes seems a bit over-written, but there was plenty to enjoy and I’m quite looking forward to the next time that Roger and Val get in.
Posted by PLA