Tipped as ‘the most anticipated comedy of the year’ (by the BBC and me personally), this new series has all the ingredients of a success – in the post-modern vein of Extras. Devised by Friends creator David Crane, along with Jeffrey Klarik, there are many wonderfully familiar faces from both sides of the pond. This pilot only offers about two minutes of Matt Le Blanc time, and the flow is a little uneven; but there are plenty of good gags to keep us watching.
Plucked from the British sitcom circuit, Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig play as Sean and Beverly Lincoln, the ‘lucky’ comedy-writing couple whose show ‘Lyman’s Boys’ has made them BAFTA winning stars in the UK. So when gregarious hollywood producer ‘Merc’ saddles up demanding to make a US version of the show, they’re all too glad; even after he says ‘I wanna’ have sex with your show’. Obviously, things don’t go as they plan when they discover that Merc hasn’t even seen their show, and the studio execs in LA are not keen on keeping their promises. Rather than giving the part of head teacher to Julian Bullard (Richard Griffiths) as they were promised. Instead, they are rooting for the laughably mis-cast Matt Le Blanc.
Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig are brilliant as the chirpy Brits out of water, with plenty of convincing chemistry, and enough British prickliness to keep the tension bubbling while the American showbiz team go about their business as if everything they do is in everyone’s interest.
If the pilot is anything to go by, the writing relies a bit too heavily on stereotypes; Sean and Beverly as the savvy and sophisticated British writers, while the LA studio execs, headed by a blithe Carol Rance, (Kathleen Rose Perkins), are all shallow and fatuous. They are also predictibly commercial minded, which is fair enough, but there’s only so long that joke can run.
And Daisy Haggard’s appearance as a vacuous studio assistant seemed like an odd choice, given the balance of Brits playing Brits and Yanks playing Yanks. Oops, that’s not very PC, but the slur is at least fitting with the show’s humour.
Matt Le Blanc only had two glimpses, but no doubt he’ll get stuck in from Episode 2 and beyond, with plenty of ironic Joeyisms to balance out the comedy from his side of the atlantic.