The Wrong Mans has been tipped to become a hit amongst much of the comedy reviewing press. It is also slightly annoying for the press with regards to their spelling and grammar checks on their word processors wanting to the change “Mans” to “Men”.
Part sitcom, part thriller, the series follows a lowly worker at Berkshire County Council: Sam Pinkett (Mathew Baynton, Horrible Histories and Spy), a luckless Town Planning and Noise Guidance Advisor, who when walking to work one day witnesses a tragic accident. On the scene he discovers a mobile phone and becomes involved in a case of mistaken identity.
Soon his fellow worker, but not strictly speaking a friend, Phil Bourne (James Corden, Gavin and Stacey and A League of Their Own) becomes involved and duo try to get to the bottom of the terrible situation they find themselves in, one that could well cost them their lives and those of others.
The BBC are putting a lot of effort into this show as anyone who has seen the “explosive” trailer for this series will no doubt tell you. There is even going to be an exclusive online side plot involving another character in the show, Sam’s annoying colleague Noel (Tom Basden, Plebs and Radio 4’s Party), who is building a dossier as the series goes along. In terms of such online coverage, this is the first comedy to be doing such things since Psychoville, another show to mix humour and thriller.
Psychoville only lasted two series and a Halloween special however, so The Wrong Mans needs to be able to do something special in order to prove as or more successful. Concerning the comedy the laughs mainly come from the absurdity of the situation Sam and Phil find themselves in. For example there is a sequence in the opening episode in a hospital which sees another case of mistaken identity, this time with a patient undergoing a rather extreme operation.
However, this absurdity tries to combine with it a hint of realism. Whereas Psychoville was primarily weird, featuring hooked clowns, telepathic dwarves and midwifes thinking dolls were real babies, so far the plot has built up at a decent, realistic situation. You can sort of believe what is going on and nothing too unbelievable has yet to appear.
The other plus point is the characters and their casting. Sarah Solemani (Bad Education and Him & Her) is great as Sam boss and ex-girlfriend Lizzie, Dawn French (who starred in the fore-mentioned Psychoville) does a good turn as Phil’s mum Linda, and Benedict Wong (15 Stories High and Top Boy) plays the sinister Mr. Lau very well.
The issue here is whether The Wrong Mans can live to its expectation. This will not be fully known until the whole of the series has been broadcast, but if it does the result could be bountiful.
3.5 / 5
The Wrong Mans starts on Tuesday 24th September at 9pm on BBC Two.