Bits and Bobs (Vol. 2): The Best Underrated British Sitcoms
The Britcom fan in me has had a cracking week. First, Sundance confirmed it’s airing the third season of Shameless beginning July 20th. Then, BBC America announced that Gavin & Stacey is on its August menu — saving me from squinting at fuzzy YouTube clips and dropping hints that I’d like the Region 2 DVDs for my birthday. (If you’ve never seen this BAFTA-winning show about long-distance romance, don’t worry, I’ll be reminding you to tune in).
But these bits of news were just icing on my java cakes, because tomorrow night is the second season premiere of Not Going Out on BBC America. It’s hilarious: The Sketch Show’s Lee Mack and Tim Vine star as an ice-cream man and his yuppie best bud, which is all the comic fodder I need. (Fact: Vine held the 2004 Guinness World Record for Telling the Most Jokes in an Hour.) And now comedienne Sally Bretton has joined up as Lee’s new go-getter roomie and Vine’s sister, Lucy. You may remember Sally as sultry Donna the intern from the British Office — the one who beds Ricky the temp. She’s got a snarky glint in her eye that’s seared itself on my brain and, I’m not ashamed to say, a heaping amount of good looks. Just watch this clip.
To celebrate Not Going Out’s new addition, I’ve been thinking about my four favorite U.K. comedies and wondering about yours. I’m not just talking about the well-known classics like Monty Python, AbFab, Blackadder, The Office, and Little Britain. Those are a given. I mean the overlooked goodies that I really hope you’ll check out and the series you think I should know about. I’ll go first (after the jump):
1. Big Train: A wacky sketch show that’s more The State than SNL — and by that I mean timeless and always funny. Did I mention it stars Simon Pegg? Watch the first skit.
2. Green Wing: I lie awake at night wondering why this hospital comedy isn’t available on US DVD. Think Scrubs sans the annoying voiceover, mixed with all the smart, wacky goodness of Arrested Development — plus a soundtrack you can dance to. Here’s the entire first ep.
3. Black Books:Irish funnyman Dylan Moran plays the chain-smoking, perpetually soused,pathologically misanthropic owner of a London bookstore. Ever beenrejected? Watch this additional scene off the third series DVD, in which Moran replies to the publisher that put the kibosh on his manuscript.
4. Peep Show: Comic duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb (That Mitchell and Webb Look)are flatmates matched only by their abundant levels of sexualfrustration and lack of things to do on the weekend. Rent the firstseason or watch a clip here.
Lastly, here’s your Anglophile What to Watch for the week!
Monday: Watch David Tennant (aka Doctor Who) rock the racetrack on a rerun of BBC America’s Top Gear at 8pm.
Tuesday: Check out Robson Green in Wire in the Blood: Season 5 on DVD. Start saving your pennies for the season’s special U.S.-set episode, Prayer of the Bone, which gets a separate DVD release in August.
Wednesday: Grab the DVD of Wide Sargasso Sea, starring Timothy Spall’s foxy son Rafe. Yes, I said it, Timothy Spall’s son is foxy.
Thursday: At 10pm, see the Stereophonics on Sundance’s Live From Abbey Road.
Friday: Watch BBC America’s newly restored Monty Python episodes at 8pm. Stick around for reruns of That Mitchell and Webb Look.
Saturday: See Doctor Who from 6 to 8pm (both on BBC America), then hit up PBS for Rob Brydon in the sci-fi comedy Supernova (check local listings for airtime).
Sunday: The final season of Foyle’s War, set during the last months of World War II, premieres on Masterpiece Mystery! at 9pm.
Your turn, PopWatchers — what have we overlooked here?