John Byrne spent the weekend catching-up on Fringe and watching hours of archived footage of The Rolling Stones – but still managed to tune in to the return of Channel 4’s longest-running sitcom.
Reviewed: Peep Show (Sunday, Channel 4)
Thanks to the joys of modern technology I spent most of the weekend catching-up on the gloriously insane final season of Fringe (Wednesday, Sky One) and watching far too much of The Rolling Stones (Crossfire Hurricane, The Rolling Stones at the BBC and Keith Richards: A Culture Show Special - all Saturday, BBC TWO), which meant the weekend went by in a Jumpin’ Jack Flash. All hugely enjoyable, but the real target of the last 48 hours or so was to reintroduce myself to the pathetic lives of the gang on Peep Show (Sunday, Channel 4). Mission accomplished.
As it was on just after the second part of The Secret of Crickley Hall (Sunday, BBC ONE), I needed a bit of cheering-up given that James Herbert’s spooky drama is more upsetting than scary, as a sordid tale of murder and child abuse is no way to end a weekend.
After a two-year break (Peep Show was last shown in December 2010) I was a little concerned that its latest season, the eighth in total, could be the one that sees this so-far hilarious sitcom finally go limp. No fear.
Sure, the now well-established face-to-camera and spoken thoughts schticks remain, and the characters are almost exactly the same (bar the wonderfully out-there Super Hans, as the former junkie fantasist’s got himself a job and a suit), but the central duo of Mark and Jez are just as hilariously clueless as ever.
One of life's great ironies is the assumption when you're young that people - especially yourself - get wiser with age. Fat chance. David Mitchell (Mark) and Robert Webb (Jez) nailed their characters right from the start and Peep Show deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Father Ted and Fawlty Towers – and it’s managed a longer creative run than these two legendary shows combined.
The new timeslot felt a bit odd, as Peep Show was a Friday night staple and – let’s face it – Sunday’s a much more sober time to be watching telly than Friday, when most sensible folk are face down in a curry container by midnight.
So, fuelled by a pot of strong coffee rather than a slab of cider, it felt a bit odd watching Peep Show completely sober and contemplating an early night. It was still funny, though. Peep Show, that is.
As the new season began, Mark’s current goal is to convince Dobby (played as impressively wide-eyed as ever by Isy Suttie) to move in with him. Which means Jeremy was moving out. But, being Jez, he hasn’t quite gotten around to moving out just yet.
To add to Mark’s almost endless woes (he is such a Calamity James) Dobby’s being wooed by a sick Gerard (Jim Howick), who ends up suddenly dying and putting Mark in a right pickle on several levels, as he’s trying to nail down a job at Super Hans’ new employer, Bath’s Bathrooms and Fittings, as well as trying to keep Dobby onside.
Jez, meanwhile, goes into therapy on Mark’s recommendation (and his largesse) – but only after initially avoiding it, having a curry instead, and lying about it to Mark, who spots him stuffing his face in the restaurant and decides to ‘treat’ him to a monster curry feast when he arrives back at the flat.
So it’s business as usual on Peep Show, where there’s something truly uplifting and reassuring about seeing grown men making a greater mess of their lives than you’ve managed. Well, until you realise that they’re fictitious characters in a successful TV show and your life is, by all accounts, for real.
Here’s hoping Mark and Jez never manage to grow up or get their act together. After all, where’s the fun in that?