The Persuasionists Review: Unpersuasive

January 13, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

2PERS300THE PERSUASIONISTS: Wednesday 13th January, BBC2, 10pm ALERT ME

“The creatives just want to show how clever they’ve been but the client wants to do something safe to protect his product and his job. The result is often chaos – but hilarious chaos.?

This soundbyte from former ad executive Jonathan Thake, writer of BBC2’s upcoming sitcom about life in the advertisement industry, may be true but translating ‘hilarious chaos’ on screen proves more than oxymoronic.

“I wanted to show that admen are not all as cool and as smart as they were portrayed in other TV series.” That part’s true at least. Though original title, ‘The Scum Also Rises’ is perhaps a more apt reflection of fictional agency ‘HHH&H’.

Starring Adam Buxton, (Adam & Joe, Hot Fuzz, ), Iain Lee (11 O’clock Show, Absolute Radio), Simon Farnaby (Bunny and the Bull), and Daisy Haggard (Psychoville, Ashes to Ashes), this strong cast makes for a promising show. Thrown together as a bunch of eclectic egocentrics, however, the pace is fast as each desperately seeks enough screen time before the half hour is over. The ad world is full of children who were praised too much or not enough, it seems.

Boss Clive (comedian Jarred Christmas), a satirical portrayal of an Australian, does have some amusing lines to relentlessly prove this fact. But when a stand out exclamation is, “We have spiders that can operate supermarket tills!,” you feel this sitcom should have been left to a professional writer.

Keaton, the office pervert (an affliction not even ad agencies can escape from) peruses the workplace for new conquests. Though his gags are so hack you’d think someone would put him out of his misery just to stop them. By the time he’s wearing a cape and pants in the office you take his attire as normal, which, like Keaton, can’t be a healthy thing. Buxton, meanwhile, plays half-amiable Greg, the eager employee desperate to please but faltering in his honesty. You can, at least, sympathise with his character unlike that of Emma, a delusional woman I did want to punch numerous times.

Episode 1 sees the adcentrics trying to sell a brown smelly ‘cockney cheese’ for disillusioned client Jim (Lee Ross), who is so cockney it hurts (though just enough for Emma). Cue hilarious chaos. Something definitely smells off to me. Though sadly, it’s not only the story line that stinks.

dom says:

“hilarious chaos” is how the “creatives” at the BBC have sold this show.

“tedious dross” is what this viewer has to say.

This show is a rip off of the Richard O’Sullivan vehicle “Me and my girl”.

It must be depressing for all involved to know that a forgotten 80s sitcom is actually considerably more sophisticated, comedy wise, than their show made 25 years later.

Mathew Markey says:

The Persuasionists is absolutely dire. It, along with BigTop, has encouraged me to write my own comedy series – I think the problem is that no one’s actually putting their money where their mouth is and actually writing something better.

Adam Buxton is unusually adrift as an actor in this also, it feels more like the fictional comedy in the series Extra.