PhoneShop Review: Failing At Funny

November 12, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

tv-stars-2halfPHONESHOP: Friday 13th November, Channel 4, 10pm Alert Me

Improvised sitcoms can go one of two ways.

They can leave us with laugh-out-loud stomach pains or a gnawing emptiness that leads us asking ‘eh’? We are going to have to go with the latter for Comedy Showcase’s second pilot, PhoneShop.

Written by Phil Bowker (Pulling, 15 Storeys High and Time Gentlemen, Please) and script edited by Ricky Gervais, PhoneShop centres on the quirky employees of a High Street UK mobile phone shop. It is a comical concept backed by a quirky cast, but a half-hour of drawn-out jokes kills the buzz early on.

“New man? Christopher, a highly awkward recent graduate, must make his first sale by the end of the day to secure the job. But with a wank-a-holic boss who claims to have “the sex drive of two 18-year-olds,? a soft-spoken razor-riding female co-worker, and two boorish thong enthusiasts, poor Christopher’s mission seems futile.

The ensemble cast includes Javone Prince, Andrew Brooke, Martin Trenaman, Tom Bennett and Emma Fryer. All are quirky and entertaining characters, appealing to the Gervais-ian brand of humour. But, like the majority of the comedian’s stuff, they tend to over-act with irritatingly prolonged dialogue.

The banter about clothes brands as a metaphor for women is inane. The racist repartee becomes awkward. The gaucheness of our leading man is frustrating and his constant utterance of “You mug!? grows tired. And inside mobile phone retailer jokes become redundant.

What could have been a satirical original falls flat. In less than 30 minutes, Bowker manages to make us yawn.

Not sure that is what Gervais signed on for.

Danielle Jacoby

skope says:

i devoured the six episodes of season 1 and current S2 on 4oD in one day. having done my time on the High St. I found it funny and well-observed with the occassional miss but some genuine LoL moments. Emma Fryer is pretty fine in this too!

Fortesque says:

its jokes for real , i’m 17 and i love it , oh wait i’m not 17 i’m 39… shit
what now ?

Dean says:

I have to disagree with that review tooyoucant.

The sleepyman episode last nigh had me pissing myself and it’s great it doesn’t take it’s self too seriously

Ash says:

Have to SO disagree with the reviewer here. This is a great quirky show with a few spiky characters, it’s not predictable like a lot of other sitcoms around which use tired old formats.

Dave says:

Alko, what do you mean constant ali G slang? this insnt ‘Ali G’ Slang its London slang and believe it or not people actually speak like that, although not as intense, i find this show hilarious, cant wait for more episodes.

Rob says:

It’s bloody hilarious, best new comedy for ages, FACT

Nat says:

One of the worst things i have seen on tv. Definetly ‘dumbing down’. The way two of the characters talk set my teeth on edge like someone scraping their nails down a blackboard . I hope they are not going to have another series.

iggy35 says:

Gervais only script edited the pilot
He was not involved with the rest of the series
And I thought it was brilliant
Can’t wait for series 2, innit!! lol

Scrit says:

I hate it all.

bruno says:

This is seriously funny TV needs more stuff like this. Its “”in your face””.

darkly says:

This show is AWESOME!!! Fair enough, it’s certainly not gonna be everyone’s cup of tea. In my shared flat, I was the only one who cracked up to the “owl” TV spot. But to me, this is seriously funny in a way I haven’t seen in a long time. Clearly, it’s jokes are lost on the reviewer, but it can’t appeal to everyone.

It’s really not like other Gervais stuff, and the person who mentioned Inbetweeners was just making a hopeful statement that it’ll reach the same level of popularity, the shows are nothing alike and will appeal to different audiences.

If you like what you’ve seen, you’ll love the rest. If you hate the first 5 minutes, you’ll hate it all.

Scrit says:

“appealing to the Gervais-ian brand of humour”

Not sure what this means. I think Ricky Gervais is a genius and I absolutely hate Phone Shop. Gervais’ programmes are intentionally cringeworthy whereas this is so because its terrible.

Can’t believe he would put his name to something this bad.

Alko says:

Complete and utter rubbish. Those two 40 year olds speaking constant Ali G slang are probably the worst ‘comedy’ characters ever created, and even the central character was an annoying idiot. So unfunny it beggars belief that this was commissioned, although I reckon having the name ‘Gervais’ in some tenuous, dubious way may have had something to do with it.

MC says:

Completely agree with this interview. I was in high hopes that this would be funny but it turned out to be dull, dry and repetitive. I was actually cringing by the end of it. Will not be watching again. Perhaps its funny if you are under 15 with an IQ below 100.

DazB says:

Absolute Rubbish.

Glynn says:

I’m guessing some of the cast and writers are posting here, as they’re the only one’s who would find this funny. Poor quality writing and tired jokes that would have been dull 10 years ago. It’s on a par with “school of comedy” as a show aimed at the lowest common denominator.

Claire says:

I have to agree with this interview, I love and am obsessed with the inbetweeners but this doesn’t even compare. People might say it’s aimed more at teenagers, but I’m 17 and thought it was very cringey. The actors are good, the script could have been hilarious but I don’t think the two mixed very well.

Mike says:

The review is being kind!

It’s the worse show i’ve seen in a long long time!

bob 4 says:

new man – so older people don’t find it funny because they don’t understand it? It was written by an oldie who runs Talkback Thames. And I didn’t have any problems understanding the ‘humour’ but still thought it was a pile of crap.

Paul says:

I watched about half of the pilot episode and pretty much echoed Baz’s sentiments. Unconvincing, pointless and painfully unfunny.

LSC says:

Can’t stand this show!

Absolute rubbish.

Baz says:

I watched 10 minutes and turned it off. I found it boring and annoying.

Dave says:

I agree with Bob below. Trying too hard, and simply unfunny. It’s empty and repetitive. Cannot be compared to Gervais’ other works. It may be dry humour, but it’s purely awful too. No potential whatsoever.

Treeish says:

I think this has so much potential to be brilliant, but I literally cannot get past the put on gangsta voices and mannerisms of the two guys, its too over-egged it becomes grating and annoying, and to the comment above, you cant say that something is simple by comparing it to inbetweeners, inbetweeners is one long drawn out “being a teenager is arkward” joke topped off with a Knob gag cherry on top.

Bob says:

How people can say this is funny? absolute rubbish, im a big inbetweeners fan and this doesnt even come close, im quite shocked ricky gervais is involved in this as all his work has been quality.

people who find this funny are SIMPLE…

ladygrady says:

just want to find out how people herd about the show becos i will have loved to watch it but did not known about it. are there more episodes and how can i find out information…

s1ndydoll says:

ooooh, SOO disagree – this is an absolute scream – I have had to watch sequences over & over again – particularly involving Emmma Fryer’s subtle eye/lash flicks & nuances.. & the last segment -keeping the shop open for a “brother” who turns out to be Christopher’s ‘who knows a black man called Graham?!’..?? Honestly the sh*t streetspeak, brand idolisation & entire essence of croydon is so beautifully captured. I just hope it stays on 4od for a while because am due for another watch. LOVEd it.
Regularly refer to the ‘Catford Hatrick’… big smiles.

smashley says:

Fully agree with the other comments and absolutely disagree with every single one of Danielle Jacoby’s comments. Phoneshop is absolutely brilliant, almost every line and scene is a gem and made me crack up, and I can’t wait to see more. “ABH, GBH, attempted kidnap, the catford hat trick”. Absolutely superb!

new man says:

worst review in the world. granted, this comedy is probably aimed towards younger audiences due to the language humour that older audiences just woudlnt understand/relate too.

i think this show has a lot more to offer and will be up there with the inbetweeners shorlty.

little gary patel says:

Failing at reviewing.

Stick with opera m’dear – You might know a bit more about that.


Charlie says:

This is the best comedy sketch I’ve seen in quite some time!