Puppy Love

October 30, 2014 by  
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Puppy Love is a new comedy written by and starring Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Peppardine, the co-creators of the BAFTA nominated Getting On.

Scanlan stars as Nana V, a Wirral based dog trainer, whilst Pepperdine is Naomi Singh, a highly strung charity worker who starts attending Nana’s puppy training classes. Their lives become increasingly entangled as Naomi tries to help Nana’s grandson Eron (Aaron Julius) receive a charitable grant. Eron then gets involved with Naomi’s daughter and the two of them end up living together in Nana V’s caravan.

The two leads play nicely off each other. The brusque and blunt Nana V clashing with the uptight, sourdough-eating, gluten-free obsessive Naomi. There’s a bleak social divide between them – whilst Naomi is hosting dinner parties serving ‘scallops with armeria maritima with confit cod and cockle vinaigrette’ Nana is struggling to keep up with the rent on her caravan and must survive on porridge oats as she tries to fend off the bailiffs. Not that it ever gets mawkish – it’s all played for subtle black laughs.

The blurb from the BBC is that it’s a show celebrating our nation’s love of dogs, but it’s probably likely to make some current dog-owners question the wisdom of their decision. The dogs in this show are unruly, untameable terrors, who piss on the carpet, bark incessantly and generally just make their owners’ lives a constant battle – not least of all Toffee, a King Charles Spaniel/Poodle cross with an embarrassing coprophagous streak. It gives a bit of edge to what might otherwise just be an opportunity to coo over lots of ickle puppies. It’s certainly unlikely to convert any cat-fanciers who are watching.

But then, most of the humans in the show are pretty monstrous too. There’s Tony, played by Simon Fischer-Becker, Nana V’s morbidly obese ex-husband who still lives with her in the caravan. We’re treated to some lovely scenes where Nana V gives him a sponge bath and rubs medicated talc into his ‘creases’. Nana V seems to have slept with almost every single man in the area, and has a panoply of dodgy money making schemes on the go at all times – it costs £2 to get your canine first aid certificate, but this is just to cover the printing costs, and once you’ve paid it’ll be emailed over the next day. And Pepperdine is fantastic as the exquisitely pretentious Naomi, hosting awful dinner parties and filling her home with overpriced ‘ethnic’ art.

It has the naturalistic, semi-improvisatory dialogue and fast pacing of Getting On and The Thick of It (which Scanlan starred in), but it does feel slightly chaotic at times. Scenes and storylines fly by without being fully explored – at times it feels like a first-draft in need of some concise editing.

But, with the likes of Kayvan Novak (Four Lions, Fonejacker) and Phil Cornwell (Alan Partridge, Dead Ringers) guest starring, the cast is strong enough to ease over any weaknesses in the script. It’s an absorbing and occasionally laugh-out-loud character-comedy with warmth and charm. Nicer than The Thick of It, but edgier than Gavin and Stacey, don’t miss Puppy Love when it starts this November.

Puppy Love starts on BBC Four on 13 November 2014.


October 29, 2014 by  
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For a municipality that is older than Rome Naples has had a far greater impact upon European culture than is commonly recognised. The poet Virgil lived there. The Renaissance humanist Giovanni Boccaccio spent his formative years on its streets and it was where Caravaggio painted some of his finest works. Not to mention that it was a Neapolitan called Giambattista Basile who first wrote down many of Europe’s folk fables.

Peter Robb in his book ‘Street Fight in Naples’ describes the city as a “dense impasto of soft yellow tufo and hardened black lava and chips of brilliant white marble, of bits of Greek wall and Roman amphitheatre, of cavities and blocked water springs and unexploded bombs, of bricks and tiles and seashells and used syringes.” Which means that the city hadn’t changed much from when the Spanish conquered it at the beginning of the sixteenth century, when they found it “a very rundown city whose whole infrastructure badly needed making over”.

It is against a reasonable facsimile of this backdrop that Gomorrah (pun intended) takes place. Based upon Roberto Saviano’s 2006 bestseller about the Camorra – a work which got him greenlit by his book’s protagonists – the TV series is set and shot in Scampia and Secondigliano like the 2008 film of the same name.

Gomorrah has all familiar elements of gangster narrative: ambitious footsoldiers, rival crime families muscling in, a militant matriarch, and a surplus of boys trying to prove they’re men. However unlike Mob operas derived from The Godfather or Sopranos template, Gomorrah places much more emphasis on the clan members integral to the day-to-day running of operations. Those links between the order and the action; the impact and the consequences.

Most notably a portrait of corruption, cynicism, intimidation and greed, Gomorrah is also a reasonably sombre but well-paced study of crime in urban Naples that plays well within the constraints of the gangster paradigm. Comparisons to David Simon’s The Wire aren’t unreasonable; the show’s aspirations to cinematic majesty contrast well with the angst-fuelled drama. Although it’s quite likely that the blissful ignorance of my ears to the intricacies of Neapolitan make me more susceptible to its charms than the patois of Baltimore cornerboys.

A very worthy drama but perhaps not quite the epic its scope would have you believe.

Gomorrah is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Download now

Adventure Time: The Complete Season Two

October 28, 2014 by  
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Adventure Time 1

We welcome the return of the two greatest heroes in the magical, surreal and post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo, in a BAFTA-winning series that has appealed to both children and adults.

Once again we follow the adventures of the shape-shifting, viola-playing Jake the Dog (John DiMaggio – Bender from Futurama) and his adoptive brother and best-friend, 13-year-old Finn the Human (Jeremy Shada), as they right wrongs and seek justice across the land.

In this collection of episodes we witness the villainous Ice King (Tom Kenny – voice of SpongeBob SquarePants) shaving his beard off and tricking princesses into thinking he is the “Nice King”; help to deliver some very special tarts to a meeting being organised by Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch); Finn is made the king of a race of over-obedient goblins; Finn gets some confusing advice on how to woo Princess Bubblegum from both Jake and Marceline the Vampire Queen (Olivia Olson – Love Actually); and Finn encounters what he believes to be some other humans.

Like the first series, there are many elements to this series that give it such a big appeal. The central relationship between Jake and Finn is wonderful. The brotherly love between them sees them conquering just about any situation no matter how bizarre: from helping a gang pf partying bears escape from gigantic monster’s stomach, to the duo having different ideas on how to make their own motion picture, or creating a four dimensional bubble.

The humour in Adventure Time is the other big element that gives the series its appeal. Even if you are an adult there will be something for you. For example there is a story in which Finn and Jake enter inside the intelligent game console BeeMo and really play a video game that they love. This story allows the creators to experiment with 3D animation, with the duo portrayed in 3D pixel-based style. There is also the time in which Jake reads some poetry by stroking the manuscript, because not only do you have to read poetry, “you’ve got to feel it.”

Jake and Finn also appear to be the only individuals to take the warning about not legally being allowed to show a film in front of a crowd of people seriously. Given the fact there about 20 of them, each in different languages on each disc of this collection, you can understand why no-one takes such warning seriously. Sadly, like with the first collection, this DVD collection contains no extras.

The story however is still fun. The characters are getting wiser, the stories as still funny, and the character of Finn appears to be slowly maturing as a person.


Adventure Time: The Complete Season Two is released on DVD by Warner Home Video.

The Art of Gothic

October 27, 2014 by  
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Art of Gothic bbc

The British love the Gothic. And whether we realise it or not, our lives are steeped in this, the most foreboding and sinister of aesthetics. From Shakespeare and Dickens to William Blake and The Cure, it haunts our internal and external lives.

Cathedrals, churches and administrative buildings up and down the country are stamped with the tell-tale markings of pointed arches and ribbed vaults which describe the form. Even politics can’t escape its touch. Could there be a more fitting home for the vampiric creatures that legislate our lives than that masterpiece of Gothic construction the Palace of Westminster?

Gothic thought has sunk its fangs into our literature, art and music; bonding with our culture so completely that to remove it would change the entire landscape of the nation on a mental as well as physical level. The Gothic is such an integral part of our little corner of the world we never question its presence or even ask where it came from? In the new BBC4 series ‘The Art of Gothic’, Culture Show stalwart (amongst many other things) Andrew Graham-Dixon seeks to answer this question, and in three fascinating episodes he takes a jolly good stab (hack, slash) at it.

‘Art of Gothic’ starts with an overview of the style and the beginning of its assembly at the hand of the Georgian Gentleman. It then goes onto analyse and weave together the different strands of Gothic’s origins including Romanesque and Renaissance Art; the religious reconstruction of The Reformation and the influence of Marxism. Graham-Dixon guides us through these different movements examining works by, amongst others, Salvator Rosa, John Ruskin and of course Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker.

Graham-Dixon to my mind is one of our best arts commentators; I always enjoy his points of view even when I do not agree with him and in fact that’s when I like him most. His light hearted demeanour and cheeky assertions are designed to provoke thought in the viewer. Never truly dogmatic,

Graham-Dixon just wants you to think about what he is talking about, mull it over in your own way and actually learn something.

Thus ‘The Art of Gothic’ is that rare thing in modern television; entertaining, intelligent and challenging. There is no assumption of prior knowledge but also no presumption that the viewer is stupid and doesn’t want to learn.

This kind of show is another demonstration of the importance of BBC4. To me it is the high watermark of Television, and ‘Auntie’ could do a lot worse than give Anthony Graham-Dixon free reign, especially with his fancy new haircut.

The Art of Gothic will be broadcast on 27 October on BBC 4

How To Get Away With Murder

October 22, 2014 by  
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On the How To Get Away With Murder promo poster in the upper left hand corner, just above the cool stare of Viola Davis’s Professor Keating, are the words “From the Executive Producers of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy.” Simply from reading these words, without having seen a frame of the show, the audience knows what they’re in for. And if it is slick, intriguing, well-produced melodrama that you want, Murder, the latest from Hollywood television darling, Shonda Rhimes, will not disappoint.

How To Get Away With Murder follows a group of first year law students, namely Wes Gibbins, played by Alfred Enoch of Harry Potter fame, who enroll in a class taught by the sharp and terrifying Annalise Keating (Davis). Keating, a well-respected high profile defence attorney, enlists her class to help create a defence for one of her clients. Succeed, and you may find yourself with a job by year’s end. Fail, and you will be relegated to the bottom of the heap.

While at its core Murder may have more in common with Scandal than Grey’s Anatomy, they all share the same beating heart of intense, thrilling workplace drama. While Enoch’s Gibbons would be loosely described as the show’s “protagonist” and moral compass, there is little doubt that Murder is Davis’s show. Davis’s Professor Keating is the quintessential anti-hero. She’s intense, powerful, intimidating, and even sexy. But most of all, Keating is effective. Rather than teaching from a textbook, Keating throws her students into the deep end, forcing them to sink or swim.

The audience knows from the get go who will survive Keating’s trial by fire. Rather than crafting the episode exclusively around the competition between students, Rhimes opens the show with four students, the aforementioned Gibbins, Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee), Rebecca Sutter (Katie Findlay), and Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King), trying to dispose of an unknown corpse. But instead of ruining the suspense surrounding Professor Keating’s decision, this decision demonstrates to the audience that Murder plans to cast a much wider net than the logline lets on.

It is this sense of intrigue running throughout the show that will bring audiences back week after week. While some may feel that the show’s non-linear storytelling style might distract from the law school melodrama that lives at the heart of Murder, it provides a welcome reprieve from the young professional hijinks and promises to keep the show fresh and constantly evolving. And while the show does suffer a bit from the typical hammy pitfalls of broadcast television shows, it refuses to be boring and for that it must be commended.

How To Get Away With Murder airs Wednesday, October 22nd, at 10pm.

The Walking Dead Season 5 premiere

October 13, 2014 by  
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WARNING: If you haven’t seen episode one yet, this review contains spoilers.

Common consensus isn’t always the best judge of things, but when common consensus decided that season four of The Walking Dead was its finest yet, it was all but impossible to disagree. If the twin terror of the prison’s virus outbreak and the return of The Governor inspired nails to be bitten off almost entirely, then the subsequent scattering of Rick, Michonne, Daryl et al to the wind combined with the mystery of Terminus left many viewers with little more than stumps for fingers.

The cliffhanger that last season’s finale presented us with was an exercise in torture of the cruelest kind. No sooner had Rick’s diminished posse arrived at Terminus – and it became clear that it may well be their very final destination – than the season was brought to a shattering end. Summers the world over were instantly ruined, as we all wiled away sun-filled days wondering if a fresh collection of bones could soon be added to the huge pile seen on Terminus’s outskirts.

As if to atone for such wickedness, The Walking Dead team conspired to give us what may be its best episode ever (and yes, we did rave most fervently about Season Four’s opener too, but for sheer visceral reaction, this trumps it). The first five minutes alone gave us by far the show’s most horrifying scene (think Hostel meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre), without a single zombie in sight – quite a feat for a series that had only just put its audience through the wringer of infanticide. Near relentless brutality followed, with the resultant adrenalin rush only staunched by an emotional reunion that would have induced tears, were it not for the comical ‘who are all these weirdos?’ look on baby Judith’s face.

That the new season was promoted in the UK with a pop-up ‘human flesh’ burger restaurant might have been a dead giveaway, but discovering that our heroes were to be served as prime fillet, not for the walkers, but for their fellow humans was no less horrifying. Especially when we witnessed the crude baseball bat/butcher’s knife/steel basin set-up that comprised Terminus’s abattoir, with the camera refusing to stray from the moment of gruesome blood-letting.

Of course, not everyone was being eyed as a delicacy at an all-you-can-eat cannibal buffet: Carol, Tyreese and baby Judith were still en-route to Terminus. Which is fortunate, as after intercepting one of the Terminus scouts it meant the episode could essentially become ‘The Triumph of Carol’, as she went all out Jane Rambo and initiated a one-woman, Expendables-style rescue mission. Granted, Rick 2.0 played his part in saving the group from becoming barbecue food, but without Carol’s explosive intervention everyone would have ended up as nicely basted morsels slowly digesting in the stomachs of their captors.

Her re-admission to the group, coupled with Rick and Carl being reunited with the decidedly nonplussed Judith, rounded off what was a perfectly self-contained opener. But by bookending the episode with the backstory of Terminus leader Gareth (who was still very much alive, give or take a bullet or two, come the end), it appears the greatest threat this season will come from a world in which the normal conventions of humanity are as dead as the zombies that inhabit it.

The Walking Dead Season Five airs every Monday at 9pm on FOX.

Follow Nick Norton on Twitter @OnlyForKoolKids




September 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Reviews


‘Arrow’, The CW’s slice of DC Comics superhero stylings, new series is out on DVD and I am going to watch it, in one big long binge.

I watched the first series and I sort of enjoyed it, but it troubles me that a clearly mediocre production garners so much praise from critics and audiences alike. Now, there are countless numbers of things the world seems to love which I think suck, including but not limited to, ‘The Walking Dead’, bacon and the non-existent derriere of Pippa Middleton. So I am used to being in a minority.

It’s more that where ‘Arrow’ is almost globally accepted as being good, another show ‘Agents of Shield’ is enthusiastically panned. I watch both of these series, AOG because I find it genuinely exciting and surprising and ‘Arrow’ as I can’t really quite believe that I am watching such a cheese ball, formulaic and badly written piece of guff.

‘Agents of Shield’ Season One, ended with events that changed the whole set up of the show and I cannot wait for the next instalment to come round. I am sure that ‘Arrow’ ended on a cliff hanger of some sort (or knowing Arrow, maybe Oliver Queen gave someone a dirty look) but I just can’t remember what it is, so as you can imagine I am not that excited to sit down and watch the next season. I will return in 23 television hours.

Here I am, just three paragraphs but a whole day later and I am glad to say to all you ‘Arrow’ fans out there nothing has really changed.

The season opens with Oliver Queen’s cohorts, Felicity Smoak and John Diggle, helicoptering in to Skull Island determined to retrieve their employer from the turmoil created by the events of the season one finale. He doesn’t want to come back, but after some gentle persuasion about how much everyone needs him, he does. Of course he does.

Arrow returns to his weird hometown Starling City, which operates as an isolated city state completely separate from the rest of America, determined to become a better hero and not kill anyone anymore. This introduces two of the defining characteristics of the comic book version of Arrow: his social awareness and resolute defence of society’s underdogs. Which, though sort of interesting, also leads to more pubescent whining from the overly sensitive characters about whatever little thing has upset them this week.

Along the way we meet some more of DC’s un-powered super heroes such as Black Canary and the story arc from flash back Island catches up with the present day. All in all, though this series pretty much continues as the first; plot hole filled action padded out with 20 minutes of soap opera. Much like its spiritual predecessor ‘Smallville’.

I think the problem with ‘Arrow’ for me is that, as much as it clothes itself in shadow and darkness, this gloom is mere window dressing. It is like the teenager who, freshly doused in new puberty strength emotion, puts on some black clothes, applies a liberal smear of eyeliner and shuffles about being “depressed”. Unless you count the count the numerous appearances of Stephen Amell’s rippling torso, there really is no meat or substance under the hood.

Arrow: Season 2 is available on Blu-ray and DVD now

The House Across The Lake

August 12, 2014 by  
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The House Across The Lake is a Hammer Film; you may recognize Hammer as purveyor of all those wonderful horror films from the 50s, 60s and 70s. You know the ones I mean, most of them starred either Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing (often both), with many directed by the criminally underappreciated Terence Fisher. Hammer weren’t just a horror studio though. They made all types of films including comedies, dramas and many a straight up thriller.

This leads me to ‘House Across the Lake’. Back in them there olden days, film studios from the UK would often approach production houses from across the pond to help increase the budget and market of their visual wares. These films would often be dressed up to appear as American films and would be littered with American almost/has been stars.

‘House Across the Lake’ is a great example of this, aping Hollywood B movie noir so much that for the first half of the film it is only the appearance of a certain Sidney James in a rare dramatic role that gives you an inkling the film is British.

Starring Alex Nicol (who incidentally directed the woefully bad horror ‘The Screaming skull’) as Mark Kendricks, washed up pulp novelist, booze hound and incorrigible womaniser who has slunk off to Lake Windermere to get away from the bottle and the bitches to finish his novel.

Unfortunately for him, on the other side of the lake are Beverly and Carol Forest a millionaire husband and his (apparently) beautiful wife, he makes the money and drinks the booze. She spends the money, sleeps around and also drinks the booze. Before long Kendrick finds himself drinking booze with them and is slowly drawn into their twisted marriage and ‘House Across the Lake’ becomes a of tale of sex, murder jealously and…booze.

That sounds pretty cool when I write it down but unfortunately ‘House Across the Lake’ falls a little flat, its characters and premise a hodge-podge of classic films like Double Indemnity’, ‘The Third Man’ and ‘The Lady from Shanghai’ but it fails to build any of the suspense and excitement that ooze from every pore of those awesome bastards, choosing instead to dwell in the dark shadows of cliché and mediocrity. Much of this is down to the script which drips with ‘on the nose’ dialogue as the characters rush to tell you exactly what they are feeling without any subtlety or hint of a subtext, sucking all life out of the movie and leaving the viewer bored stiff.

Amusingly this lack of decent writing is actually mirrored in two scenes, first Kendrick regrettably sends of some work he knows to be substandard and a second where he is fired from his publisher for being rubbish. I’d like to think this is an admission of guilt by writer/director Ken Hughes, who did do some good stuff in his day including ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’.

Personally I am glad to have seen this film but if you’re not a completest follower of film noir and black and white thrillers or even fervent Sid James fan (who for the record is pretty good in a straight role) I would give this one a miss and watch the classics.

The House Across The Lake is released on DVD on August 18

The Speakmans

July 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Reviews



Since returning to the UK after eight months or so in the lunatic asylum of a country the world calls China, I have been reacquainting myself with this eccentric little island. Which, for all intents and purposes means hanging around pubs, clubs and any seedy little dive that will allow a shabby gentleman like myself through the doors.

It’s been great meeting friends and drinking, snorting and whiffing my way across Wales, the West Country and London, but as the Chinese like to think if it’s bad it’s got to come out.

Today is the day my body has decided to wave a little white flag and expel all the bad shit as well as come down with rather unpleasant cold, on top of hay fever and crackling cough.

I have turned into a living factory whose only product is human waste matter. I am so weak I can barely type let alone control the smorgasbord of excretia that flows out of me. A sneeze blasts through the strongest man size Kleenex, splattering my bedroom in cobweb of snot and bacteria. My eyes and ears weep a thick semen like substance and the haemorrhoids in my arse leaks blood like sodium pentothal dosed Julian Assange leaks political secrets

And every couple of hours I vomit. I vomit hard. I vomit a murky rainbow of greens, oranges, yellows and browns. Fortunately no black or red the tell-tale give away of blood but that’s probably cos it’s all coming out of my butt.

I have thrown up more in one day than Becky the subject of Channel… The Speakmans. Becky is 26 and due to a mishap at the age of three which meant a hospital had to induce sickness. Becky has been left with emetophobia a rare condition which means the sufferer lives in fear of being sick and hasn’t done so since then.

Becky suffers so acutely from this problem that it has affected her relationships with friends and family, missing her sister’s wedding, her grandfather’s funeral and is fast becoming a hermit relying upon her (wonderfully sweet and kind) mother to do everything for her.

She has tried everything to get over this problem including hypnotherapy, hypo-analysis and some other acronyms I didn’t quite make out. None of it has worked, so apparently it was time to call in a The Speakmans; a husband and wife team of professional northerners, clarted in fake tan, make up and bleached hair and an exquisite mullet depending on which one you happen to be looking at. I love this look, it seems to be a symptom of many a successful northerner, eschewing taste and style entirely to relying solely on the how much a thing costs as an indicator of whether it looks good.

Carol Vordeman does it; the Holllyoaks cast do it, and obviously Geordie Shore do it. It’s not limited to the north of England, Essex rocks it, as do the supposedly elegant Milanese in Italy, the affluent New York Jews and the moneyed classes of Hong Kong, Dubai and Moscow (I might as well just insult everyone, in case I am accused of being racist… I am not, I am a misanthrope, I hate all of you equally).

The Speakmans are apparently a phenomenon, without any formal training in medicine or counselling the two have managed to build up a successful empire as life coaches, appearing on This Morning and other middle of the road productions being adopted as self-help gurus by a number of celebrities along the way.

They seem to help Becky as well, I am not sure how as the show didn’t really give anything away, there was segment where they presented the patient with a couple of boxes, one contained trinkets of her life imagined in a negative manner and another in a more positive light. They then blamed everything on the mother for indulging her daughter’s mental issue. Becky had a little cry and then suddenly she was better.

They seem to have some miraculous way with people, it’s a bit like cognitive therapy where you look at a problem logically and objectively do help dispel any irrational fear or problem but all the Speaksmans seem to do is say “who said life had to be hard, life is easy so stop making it difficult ”

It’s a sweet notion right up there with Kantian philosophy of the Universal good as being a good reason for human beings to be nice to each other. Just as fucking stupid but with pronounced with much less eloquence

The whole thing seemed so ridiculous that I would say it was entirely faked. Becky did not seem in the least bit troubled, in fact she was a bubbly and healthy looking woman that did not present the greasy, green tinged pallor of people who don’t leave the house for days on end and the accents of Becky and her mother differed so much that it called into doubt that they lived in each other’s pockets for 23 years.

However I have to say I rather enjoyed the show. I like the Speaksmans not as people or personalities but as figures of fun. And the show which lasts a whole television hour flew by. So watch, mock watch and laugh at the idiots. Which as we all know fuels so much of what we watch these days

The Speakmans is on ITV on 28/07/2014

Mr Sloane

May 24, 2014 by  
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Mr Sloane review

It’s safe to say that when we first meet Jeremy Sloane, the eponymous hero of Sky Atlantic’s new tragicomedy, he’s at just about his lowest ebb. It’s safe to say this because the first time we meet him he’s securing a noose around his neck, stepping up onto a chair and kicking it out from under his feet. As shocking an opening gambit as that may sound, it actually becomes one of the show’s best gags and an indication of its knack for mining the humorous from the most horrific.

Of course there’s no need to issue a spoiler alert (but if you really want one: spoiler alert!) – Sloane’s suicide bid ends in spectacular failure. He is, after all, played by much-loved funnyman Nick Frost, and no show would ever recover from the image of Frost’s lifeless corpse swinging from a rope. Fortunately, as his very much living body comes crashing down from its temporary suspension, the only way for the rest of the episode to go is up. Albeit up on a mildly uneven gradient.

Mr. Sloane is the creation of Robert Weide, the man who, along with best friend Larry David, brought us the scabrous cult comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm. Where the latter is set in contemporary Los Angeles and features the everyday confrontations on an uncensored, unrepentant David, so the former is its polar opposite: set in Watford in 1969, with the mildly repressed company man Sloane at its heart. It is very English and very period.

As we quickly learn, Sloane has recently suffered two tragedies in his life – being abandoned by his wife (played by newly-crowned BAFTA queen Olivia Colman) and losing his job to a former protégé. The ‘comedy’ in ‘tragicomedy’ comes from Sloane’s attempts to pick up the pieces and get his life back on track, starting with a spectacularly misjudged attempt at supply teaching. Although this induces more gentle ‘hah’s than outright LOLz, more often than not there is a comfortable amount of mirth over the course of the hour.

Not everything works. Weide has yet to master the art of conveying ‘pub banter’ in a way that doesn’t come across as cringeworthy as Richard Curtis’s attempts to do ‘working class’, while a lengthy gag involving a self-improvement tape (or rather eight-track tape, as the period detail demands), falls falteringly flat. And it will be interesting to see if Ophelia Lovibond’s American love interest develops beyond the stock fantasy ingénue, introduced as she is in a psychedelic-patterned dress that screams “LOOK AT HOW DIFFERENT I AM FROM EVERY OTHER STAID CHARACTER IN THIS SHOW!” Curb fans looking for its English equivalent will certainly come away disappointed.

The real asset here is Frost, a performer with such a natural propensity for comedy he could probably make castration seem funny. His range extends well beyond funny too, helping flesh Sloane out as a man out of time, content to listen to Gilbert and Sullivan and chase safe domesticity while the revolutions of the 1960s completely pass him by. If Weide can keep things a little less Curtis and fully utilise Colman (who only appears briefly in flashback in this first episode) and Lovibond, enthusiasm for a regular Friday night date with Mr Sloane may become ever less curbed.

Mr Sloane is on Sky Atlantic, Fridays at 9pm

Follow Nick Norton on Twitter @OnlyForKoolKids

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