Many of us at OTB (and you out there on the interweb) were underwhelmed by last week’s debut of Friday Night Dinner, but will the second episode be where Robert Popper’s new comedy starts to shine? Well… not quite.
The good news is that there are things which are starting to work well in FND. Some of the running gags won’t get old too quickly – like putting salt in each other’s drinks – and the emerging joke about Adam and his inability to get a girlfriend is starting to get going, opening up possibilities for him to bring any female acquaintances home for dinner in future episodes.
But some of the new asides fall a little flat. The text message game where the brothers steal their mum’s phone and send ‘harsh’ jibes to each other lacks the edge it needs to be truly hilarious. Sending a SMS that says “You were a failed abortion. Love Mum x” just provokes a resigned smile from Adam rather than the genuine upset that could be achieved with a message which wasn’t so obviously a prank. Plus, dad Martin’s hearing problems are starting to get a bit old; yes, he can’t hear very well, but just having to repeat things to him all the time isn’t funny – just annoying.
However, the character of Adam is growing, and the scene in the car is a moment in which the viewer can genuinely empathise with him, but Johnny is starting to grate, becoming the kind of insufferable asshole who spends his whole time poking fun at his brother but never has anything interesting to say. He needs more dialogue in order to establish himself as a character with a purpose other than just to piss off Adam. Jim also has a lot of potential, his character has been well defined so far as a guy who will turn up and instantly make any situation awkward but he needs to evolve a bit more to keep things fresh. If he gets some more quirks, turns up in some new places and maybe even becomes a little less pathetic – so viewers can’t feel sorry for him – then he could provide some wonderful moments.
Friday Night Dinner probably just needs more time to ‘warm up’, but with a comedy that, presumably, won’t be having a 20+ episode first season, the slow start might alienate a lot of viewers. Episode two turns out to be a lot like the first; amusing in parts but feels like it’s lacking something to make it really funny.