Wonderful You (TV Mini-Series 1999– ) Poster

(1999– )

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It had to be you (sort of)
Stuart Ian Burns23 January 2003
We've all been here before. This is a show from the genre which brought you 'Cold Feet', 'This Life' and 'Hearts and Bones'. Three men, three women in various states of coupling thrown through a shopping list of crises with little hope of a solid resolution. Typically in all of these shows it isn't the actual plotlines which offer originality - they never have anything new to say about divorce or dating, infidelity or mating - it's the approach - is it suitably different enough from what's gone before to keep the audience interested. 'Cold Feet' played about with structure - how exposition was used for comic or dramatic effect; in 'Hearts and Bones' there was a rawness to the tone, an Ibsenesque claustrophobia; 'This Life' had swearing, weird camera angles and sexuality. In comparison to these shows, 'Wonderful You', given that it is a few years old, seems extremely dated, and lacks any kind of cohesion - it's a chaotic mess of styles and ideas. It feels like the creators were throwing as much as they could onto the wall to see what would stick.

Which isn't to say it isn't enjoyable, and much of the watchability of the show is because despite everything the actors give it their all. Perhaps this is because most of them are on holiday from their day jobs in costume dramas -- half the cast were in 'Sense and Sensibility' or 'Hornblower' and some of them were in both. Most have worked in many things before - which gives them a kind of lived in look on screen. There aren't many new faces here, most of the time you're trying to remember what they've been in. Also, some of the camera work is very well done, especially in episode four in which one of the characters fanatasises about their film teacher (yes we were in 'Dawson's Creek' territory) and found herself in a re-run of 'Brief Encounter'.

But the approach taken in that episode (which also saw a number of flashback sequences) points up the other problem. Rather than souping everything together, the 'gimics' are rolled out in an episodic bases. So the opening episode is structure about a voice over. The second episode is underpinned by excerpts from a video made for the 30th birthday party of one of the characters etc. etc. The better shows keep returning to these things and trying them in other settings to inform and reinform what's happening on screen. Here it's very much - `Well, we've done that, what now?'

There have been two really good moments, which work because they circumvent the cliché as it might appear in a Hollywood film, something which could have worked well if it had been developed for the whole series. In the first Henry, the courier, guitarist and thirtysomething crisis man offers to go to a school for special needs people to impress the woman who is working their - and proceeds to play his own songs to them. If this had been 'Patch Adams' they would have sat in wrapped silence. Here they throw fruit at him until he plays something they know, like 'Old Macdonald'. In the second Marshall, the chartered accountant decides that his seven year (count them) relationship might be worth saving so he leaves work in the middle of an important day to rush to the seaside to be with her. If this had been a Nora Ephron film he would have just appeared with her at the end of the film have realized the error of his ways. Here we get to see every rotten moment of the trip, wiseass in the ticket office at the station telling him that the place wants to get to doesn't have a station, to finding that the only taxi at his destination is on leave to having to walk absolute miles to find the little hut she's staying in, only to find that she's less than impressed to see him after all. Momentous, employment dumping gestures hardly ever work out.

It's hardly a surprise that 'Wonderful You' didn't receive a second series. It probably won't get a rerun either (it's not helped by that fact that there seems to be a picture of the World Trade Centre in every scene). It is shame on both counts because there was something here to work with, it just needed more focus and a greater mission statement. If you happen to see it around on cable you won't entirely be wasting your time. Just don't expect 'The Secret Life of Us' or anything.
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10/10
Excellent series with sarcastic wit
pertan_jester5 December 2002
This series is just excellent in my view. The characters are well displayed in a typical british manner and the sad and pathetic traits and life's of everyone of them are really portrayed well by the bunch of actors appearing. It's really a treat and make you feel good about yourself all things considered.
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1/10
Thirtysomething w***ers that haven't got lives
hexa-230 January 2001
First, let's look at Henry, bicycle courier/folk singer. This dope is worried about turning thirty. He should be so lucky, I'd swap him tomorrow. Marshall, accountant at large puts a capital P into prat.

Heather, who couldn't manage a house of ill fame. Gina and Marco, both born losers and finally Clare who would have trouble walking and chewing gum, the ultimate blond bimbo. This show gets worse with every episode. I think I only watch it because I need professional help.
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