Sunday, September 16, 2007

Review: Not Going Out (Series 2), The IT Crowd (Series 2) and Dog Face

I wasn't sure about the first series of Not Going Out (BBC1); now it's back, and I'm becoming sure that it doesn't work. The loss of Megan Dodds left a major hole in the set-up that shoe-horning Sally Bretton into the flat as Tim's sister, Lucy, did not adequately fill. The process has exposed the interchangeability of Lee's sparring partners, and has done nothing to diminish the peripherality of Tim. The most surprising thing about the second series is a sad drop-off in the writing quality: in Series One, Lee's rants were clever and funny if rushed; now they are slower and less funny. The introduction of an incompetent Cockney cleaner smacks of desperation. This is not to say that it won't be popular, of course; just it won't stand out as deserving of it.

Another first series that promised more than it delivered was The IT Crowd (Channel 4), but this has matured into something very good, mainly because it is less interested in the rather cardboard corporate context and more interested in the interplay of Jen, Roy and Moss (and Richmond) as friends. Jen (Katherine Parkinson) has learned tounderplay her main face-twitching, so that all she needs to do is look blank as she finds the colleagues with whom she had started the evening have transformed themselves into a wheelchair-bound gay and a barman.

Dog Face (E4) explores the area of the comedy of embarassment mapped out by Little Britain. Ideas with potential, like the film subtitler who imports his personal vendettas into his work, are overplayed and rendered needlessly coarse, while others might have made a good single sketch but are repeated to the point of boredom, like the science teacher whose answer to difficult questions fromher class is to distract them by showing them her pants. I don't think they will be a second series to review; the debut episode was sneaked out without fanfare as if the broadcasters were unwilling to promote it.

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