Season 2: Consistently well observed and imaginative
Having watched his club be decimated by fire, Brian Potter is in court on account of his shoddy safety management and falsified insurance documents and has his license taken away from him forever. With nothing left in his life, Potter turns to his friends to try and get the club reopened with the license in Jerry's name. With a family fun day to kick it all off, things don't get any better as Potter's various ideas for making his club a success are no better than before.
I don't tend to agree that Phoenix Nights is "genius" or "utterly brilliant" or other high praise that has been dished out on these pages but I will give it its due because it is a very clever and enjoyable sitcom. Set in a Bolton working man's club, its strength is the way that it gets the northern characters just right but also manages to exaggerate the narrative without losing touch with this. As a result the show seems very real in its low-rent club with basic people laying on basic entertainment. However at the same time we have the outrageous plots that see the cheap tacky stunts mostly falling flat producing some great scenarios and dialogue. It is a bit like Kay is loving his roots while also using them to get laughs, which is what his stand-up does but to a lesser effect (in my opinion). In terms of plot, mostly the running of the club and the tacky stunts hold it together but the final episode or so the strain shows as Kay tries to find a close to a narrative that hadn't really seemed that interested in having one up till that point.
The laughs don't roll out though and some viewers reading the hype might expect a comedy with an Airplane-style hit rate. It isn't a million miles off that at times but mostly it is the sense of the absurd that kept me amused by it. The script throws up some great lines and indeed many of the gags are just left out there to be enjoyed for example the character who spent the entire season with a tiger print painted on his face. The cast work very well and I do like the fact that the extras struggle to keep it together at times, adding to the down-to-earth but yet off-the-wall nature of it. Kay himself is really good in his dual roles. Potter and Max are very different but he hits the mark with them both. He works well with McGuinness and you can see why they got the spin-off. Fellow writer Dave Spikey is excellent, sending himself up really well while also being convincing as a working man's club entertainer. Around these, Connolly, Moorhouse, Foster, Edge and others all produce wonderfully observed comedy characters.
Overall then, a very enjoyable and funny sitcom. Not to everyone's taste and perhaps not as clever and modern as it would like to think it is as, although some laughs come from the ironic side, there are some where a joke about race or disability is just funny because of what it is. That said though, it is easy to enjoy and despite the plot in the final episodes slowing it a bit, it is consistently entertaining and funny.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?