Thursday, November 01, 2012

The perfect shitstorm

Last week I pondered how the writers of The Thick Of It might bring the fourth and final series to a satisfactory close, following the superb one-hour inquiry special. With a breakneck finale that was even more like an explosion at a Tourette's Anonymous group than normal, as it turned out. Peter Capaldi once again stole the show as Malcolm Tucker, perversely possibly the only character to emerge with any credit, delivering a searing expose of what his job entailed to Chris Addison's shellshocked but nevertheless grasping Olly Reader. And yet arguably the two best rants went to Glenn Cullen and Stewart Pearson, both firing off memorable parting shots as they were forced out.

Meanwhile, it seems I may have been a bit too hasty both in lauding Cuckoo - the fifth episode was poor and the final one not much better - and in being dismissive of Fresh Meat (which, on the evidence of the recent BP episode, is better than I'd given it credit for, and has edged into comedy-drama territory).

More negative feedback from friends has put me off giving Hebburn a try, but Robert Popper's Friday Night Dinner is proving popular, following roughly in the footsteps of The Smoking Room in that it's a sitcom where the sit is so rigidly defined as to be given in the title. The dad (played by Paul Ritter) is a particularly strong character, whose response to learning there may be a burglar hiding in the house is to take his top off and eat marmalade out of the jar with a spoon. And, of course, Mark Heap's involvement is a mark of quality.

Next on the agenda is catching up with the latest series of Getting On, now three episodes in. Directed by Capaldi and starring Joanna Scanlan, it's testament to the fact that The Thick Of It has rightly helped advance comic careers.

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