Great Night Out
Friday 11 January, ITV, 9pm
‘Great Night Out‘ is a brand new ITV series revolving around the lives of four thirtysomething mates and their adventures in life, relationships, and drinking. It’s got a good pedigree behind it too, written by Mark Bussell and Justin Sbrensi, the minds behind the excellent ‘The Worst Week of my Life‘ from a few years back. Unfortunately, I can’t see ‘Great Night Out‘ reaching the same sort of critical acclaim.
At the most, it’s OK. There’s plenty of jokes, but very few laugh-out loud moments. The main foursome are loveable, but they’re all the same. It feels as if you’re waiting for some great punchline that never comes. Instead, you’re getting a string of one-off laughs that occasionally fall flat. Even when we are given a decent punchline, we can see them coming a mile away.
For example, the first episode deals with the gang’s wacky mishaps in getting a groom to his wedding. Given 10 minutes, you could probably predict the whole script with just that to go on.
In many ways, it’s a not-quite-as-good version of ‘The Inbetweeners‘, right down to the characters. In fact, if we see a godawful ‘Green Green Grass’-style revival of The Inbetweeners franchise in 20 years, you can bet that it’ll look a lot like ‘Great Night Out‘
Hodge, the self-proclaimed leader of the gang, is Jay, constantly playing the big man but living very much under the thumb of his wife (played excellently by Rebekah Staton). Glyn is filling in for Will, ever the voice of reason, and consistently unlucky in love. Ultimately, the characters just aren’t distinctive enough and don’t bounce off each other enough to have ‘The Inbetweeners‘ charm.
You can’t help but feel that the writers missed the boat a little bit – the main characters are four old mates struggling with adulthood, but acting just as they did when they were 16. It would be nice to see a little bit of struggle and tension in the foursome as they ‘grow up’ – instead, we get an hour of heavy-handed blundering. Maybe this is expecting too much from a primetime ITV sitcom.
Northerners with high blood pressure would do well to give this one a miss; it’s very much a picture of Stockport as imagined by an East London TV executive. Rag and bone men, boarded up windows, constant, all-day drinking – it’s the sort of ‘grim up North’ trope that stopped being relevant about 20 years ago.
Still, I’m being harsh. The acting is hard to fault, and any programme pales in comparison to ‘The Inbetweeners‘. It’s just a very weak start to what has the potential to be a great series. ‘Great Night Out’ could be a one to watch, but don’t go sprinting to the ITV player if you miss this episode.