Threesome Review: Series 2, Episode 1

October 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

THREESOME: Monday 1st October, Comedy Central, 9.30pm

Threesome, everyone’s favourite Ménage à trois-based comedy is back, with a whole sack of one-liners, a bed-full (three, appropriately) of top class guest stars in the shape of Bill Bailey, Robert Webb and Joe Thomas, and a first episode that delivers laughs, even if it did leave the plot and characterisation at the sorting office.

Now, Threesome’s already had a successful first series and has garnered itself quite a following (to the point of writer Tom McRae actually being asked about the show instead of Doctor Who Link to) but even as a newcomer to the series, I didn’t feel like I was being excluded from some kind of bizarre club, where unless you know what happened six episodes ago you don’t get any of the jokes.

In fact it’s immediately accessible. But perhaps this is the positive flip side to a deeper characterisation problem: whilst the main cast are all nicely and realistically defined, Thomas’ cameo as a ‘mathemaddict’ maths teacher felt a bit two-dimensional and overly-reliant on one-liners. Some of these are, in fact, quite brilliant, and had me laughing out loud, but you feel that the audience could’ve been given the benefit of the doubt and would probably stick around even if every line weren’t a joke.

The jokes themselves swing pleasingly between the broad and accessible, such as the excellent recurring Dead Poets Society reference and Ritchie’s casual asides, and more subtle work like a background gag involving the existentialist writer Simone de Beauvoir that’s so niche I’m not even sure if it was supposed to be there or if my politics degree-addled brain is reading too much into it.

But again, it is the jokes and one-liners that seem to take centre-stage, whilst plot work is left behind. This isn’t a major problem, but it takes away from the enjoyment of the cleverly-crafted lines if you keep asking yourself why, for example, Mitch, having failed his original maths GCSE, would retake it in a school rather than, say, a night class. Of course, you need not really ask yourself that question, because the answer is obvious: the school setting allows more jokes, which is fine, but you wouldn’t see it in a comedy more crisply observed.

And I suppose it is observation that is the crux of all these problems: the mainspring of this first episode is Mitch’s embarrassing attempts to copy the slang of a group of kids, hardly the most original premise anyway, but undermined by the fact that the kids sound like they are themselves copying fairly poorly off real youths. Nit-picking aside, however, this is a strong start to the new series, and if you like your sitcoms gag-driven and light-hearted, think a more rounded Not Going Out, then this might be the thing for you.