Not Going Out Review

NOT GOING OUT: Friday 13th April, BBC1, 9.30pm

Lee Mack’s Not Going Out begins its fifth series tonight, which seems absolutely astonishing in this age of post-Larry Sanders Show character-driven comedies. As is often the case with this comedy, the jokes in tonight’s episode regularly flop. But for every couple that do, there’s at least one that will raise a smile. The opening plot? Well Tim joins a band at work and Lucy falls for the lead guitarist, Stretch. Jealous of Stretch and Lucy’s blossoming close friendship, Lee asks to join the band to try and steal some of Stretch’s thunder.

Stretch is an unintentionally great character because, with the exception of Lee, all the others seem to like him, even though he’s quite clearly a complete and utter dick. Amusingly, he’s introduced as kind of a cool, interesting guy, yet in reality he looks like a capybara has learned to speak and sport a leather jacket. Naturally, you might presume that Lucy, who seems like a clever enough character, would immediately dismiss Stretch as a creep, but she seems strangely excited by his hilariously misguided cool guy persona.

At one point, Stretch serenades Lucy with his own compositions in which the capybara-faced guitarist romantically promises Lucy that he’ll take her on the “Blue-seaâ€?. It’s awful, obviously, yet Lucy is inexplicably impressed by the sentiment, as if Stretch’s lyrical prowess could rival even Dylan’s. She isn’t even bothered by several questionable sexual metaphors, one of which describes Stretch’s penis a hot dog and Lucy’s vagina as a bun.

It’s difficult to believe that Lucy would have anything but contempt for this man, who frankly has no positive characteristics. And unfortunately, this is largely the problem with the series in general. Frequently it feels as if the characters are just there to make gags and not to interact with each other, which doesn’t make them particularly likeable or interesting, despite some good performances from the cast—especially from Tim Vine.

I can’t deny, however, that tonight’s episode does have its fair share of laughs, even if, at times, they’re overshadowed by some truly terrible one-liners.