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BBC sketch show that while continuing to show the misadventures of a series of popular characters now also introduces a slew of new oddballs and misfits for us to enjoy including Tory Boy and The Lovely Wobbly Randy Old Ladies.
The comic daily lives of three misfits who share a London flat. Mandy, the beautiful, intelligent blonde who can't seem to keep a job or prevent the wrong men failing in love with her all the time. Matthew who owns the flat but can't step outside yet still manages to live out some bizarre fantasies much to the chagrin of the other occupants. Finally, Martin the red-haired dreamer who can't seem to find the right woman but has been having an on-off relationship with Clare for a long time whilst he searches in vain. Written by
Mark Smith <email@example.com>
At one point in episode three, of the first series, Matthew, played by Ben Chaplin, makes a reference to his new neighbor by referring to her as Winona Ryder. Ben would go onto act opposite Winona in the movie Lost Souls (2000). See more »
In the first series the number on the flat door was "7", but in the second and third series it is the same flat but has number "54" on the door. See more »
Just watched an episode of this recently almost ten years after it was first broadcast. Then watched another....then another....then another!
Now have checked it out on the internet as a result of four stunning episodes of this underrated 90s classic. Its obvious parallel is Men Behaving Badly, but this is much better in my opinion. It's deeper, darker, more three-dimensional and more interesting.
I vaguely remember the second and third series, but from watching these episodes of the first series I have to say Ben Chaplin is out-of-this-world as Matthew, I very much doubt the other guy was as good. His performance as the highly deluded landlord is perfect, he should be totally unlikeable as he talks nothing but rubbish...but still you can sort of feel sorry and grudging admiration for him and his warped imagination as he constantly struggles to entertain himself. Particularly funny was the moment he sneaked into Mandy's bed and wore her panties!
The relationship between Matthew and Martin is the stuff of all the comedy classics: I can see elements of Del and Rodney in their relationship (loudmouthed but deluded "elder brother" figure and slightly gormless "younger brother" figure who idolises him and despairs of him at the same time); also Lister and Rimmer from Red Dwarf (two mismatched figures who are trapped together under the same roof and who reluctantly need each other despite wanting to punch each other's lights out). There's elements of Blackadder and Baldrick (sadistic, greedy, devious master/landlord with eager-to-please "servant" figure). There's also a definite hint of homoeroticism in Matthew's attitude to Martin, the way he loves to get physical with him and gets so upset when he wants to leave.
As for Mandy, granted Samantha Janus ain't the most sophisticated actress in the world, but she does what she needs to do perfectly, ie glides about ultra-sexily, taunting the guys by being so near but so far! Her relationship with the two of them is complex and poses various questions. There's definitely somethign going on mentally between her and Matthew, the way she sometimes looks at him...but then he'll do something so crass and stupid that she ends up ridiculing him.
The story lines and jokes themselves are not particularly strong or memorable, but they provide a framework for the characterisations. I actually found myself laughing most at some of the quieter, more obscure dialogue rather than the obvious crowd-pleasing gags. It's the facial expressions and unspoken body language that intrigued me and made me laugh uneasily, in the same sort of awkward style as The Office or elements of The Fast Show, particularly Ted and Ralph, and the latter's unspoken feelings towards the former.
Finally, for what it's worth, every episode featured some genuinely funny taboo-breaking scenarios that could have backfired but didn't. There's funny gags about paedophilia, bedwetting, racism, agoraphobia, parents dying, bullying....these could have been heavy-handed and contrived ("let's be controversial to boost our ratings!") however they come across as genuine, touching and resonant. It's clear the scriptwriters have had some personal experience of these issues and aren't just making cheap gags, they're actually writing from the heart.
All in all, I think this show was a standout comedy that is still worth watching today. If you like edgy humour about freakish losers then you'll love it; if you prefer more cosy, cuddly humour then you're better off with Men Behaving Badly. This is more like Men Beahving Sadly...and I prefer it like that, it makes it funnier!
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