Bless Simon Bird. No matter how hard he tries he will always be the briefcase wanker from The Inbetweeners, won’t he? Sad though this may be, luckily Bird has already proven he’s no one trick pony, with another hilarious banger from Channel 4. Another sitcom, hm? Cool that sounds.
He might be in a new setting, but his character has thankfully kept the sardonic quick wit we all know and love. Here he is Adam Goodman, brother to Johnny and son of Jackie and Martin. They’re a British, middle-class, secular Jewish family, who each week meet up for the traditional Friday Night Dinner, which always goes completely wrong. Some of this comes from Johnny and Adam’s constant pranking – glass of salt water, anyone? – and their dad’s weird behaviour, but is mostly down to the odd neighbour Jim who likes to turn up unannounced and lech at Jackie.
We admit, it’s not a convincing premise. But somehow, it completely works. It’s stupid and slapstick and doesn’t even think about making some grandiose statement on modern life or getting those smarter-than-thou gags in. And boy, are we grateful for it. Yes, it’s weird, yes, a lot of it makes zero sense, but it is consistently funny. The jokes might be cheap, but they land every time. And whilst the set-up is uncomplicated, it’s also cosy and easy. And the company isn’t half bad either – Bird is joined by Tamsin Greig, Paul Ritter and Mark Heap, making for ideal end of the week, Friday Night Telly.
You might find The Times’s Victoria Segal sitting down to watch an episode or two of what she calls a “funny and psychologically snappy,” show, praising Mark Heap’s “enduringly brilliant” performance as Jim. In The Telegraph Jasper Rees is also full of praise for Heap, who he calls “a gifted physical comedian who specialises in scheming, purblind neurotics,” complimenting this “gentle family comedy which riffs on the established pecking order.” And according to The Guardian’s Mark Lawson, the show is “timed to perfection,” and “although many of the situations are ridiculously silly, the show maintains a feel of believability through the convincing dynamics and body-language of the central cast.”
First shown February 2011. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.