Rare is that any TV series can stand the test of time without becoming stale. It is no exception in the UK’s TV business just as it is for those in the U.S.. Mind you that UK series (U.S. seasons) only have a fraction of the episode quantities ordered by their networks per year as opposed to the U.S., but they are given just as short leashes to thrive as in the States. So the fact that "britcom" Peep Show has been on the air since 2003 really proves the wonderfulness of this little show and is a show you should be watching...even if you have to wait for it on DVD.
At first glance, Peep Show follows the standard “odd couple” formula. Mark Corrigan (David Mitchell) is the quintessential straight man - tidy, career-oriented and well versed. He shares a flat with his friend Jeremy (Robert Webb), or Jez, who his polar opposite in every way. He is jobless, into partying hard, lives pipe dreams of being in the music industry, and relies on Mark to handle serious matters in life such as borrowing money for food and rent.
Here is where the show becomes unique within the formula and shatters the mold set with shows before it. For no matter how Mark and Jez appear on the surface, they both view life extremely unrealistically. For example, Mark relentlessly tries to climb the corporate ladder and impress his boss Alan Johnson (Paterson Joseph) yet he does not have the intestinal fortitude to ask his colleague Sophie (Olivia Colman), who he is madly infatuated with, out on a date. He is a nerdy guy who is utterly romantically awkward and declares every woman who gives him the time of day as “The One”. Meanwhile, Jez thinks he is a hip and cool misunderstood artist, thanks to his degenerate friend Super Hans (Matt King), as well as a chick magnet yet he is really an unmotivated slacker with no musical talent and always ends up dominated in bad romantic relationships. He is a legend in his own mind and a know-it-all who cannot cope with the pressures of the real world and serves no benefit as a partner to his friends or any woman he develops sexual relationships with. No matter what, they always find themselves in the most awkward and dire of situations, much to the audience’s pleasure.
Mark and Jez maintain a distorted vision of who they truly are, saying one thing to someone but thinking the complete opposite way internally and totally looking out for their own gains with each other and those they interact with. The show is never presented in the basic third person view, but only through first-person shots of either Mark or Jez, where we hear their true inner thoughts via voiceovers. We are essentially receiving a peep show into their true thoughts while looking through their eyes, which then immediately jumps to the other person’s POV where we hear what they actually say to the other character. And it always contrary to what we just heard them say to themselves in their voiceovers. This is where the show gets its dynamic and what provides Peep Show with both its title and hilarious material.
Having completed its seventh series in 2010, with series 8 and 9 on the way, the show’s constantly evolving in both the characters and story lines, which simply has not gotten repetitive, not “jumped the shark” and, most importantly, not become boring over the many years. It is a show that you will keep watching consecutively episode after episode, unable to stop until you see what the next installment has in store. The two main characters also continue to grow as individuals as well as form a stronger bond between each other. Even though they sometimes cannot tolerate each others’ dispositions, they realize that they are the best of friends they could truly ever hope for and rely on each other to help them through their many struggles. Of course, most of the time their well meaning actions usually cause the other quite a bit of unintentional misery but give the audience a great laugh, even though we shouldn’t be reveling in their despair.
Webb and Mitchell are a phenomenal comedy team who have been together for a long time with perfect chemistry. If these guys really aren’t friends in real life, then they truly are the greatest actors who ever lived. They play off each other so well that you’d be remiss to find another pairing who could pull this wonderful show off at such a peak level, especially when Webb and Mitchell seem to be improvising during their inner thought voiceovers.
Colman, King, Joseph, and Neil Fitzmaurice, who plays perennial Mark-bully Jeff, are the shows mainstays, while other impact characters come and go throughout seasons. This character transition is mostly evident in Jez’s girl obsession of the year, with notable beautiful actresses such as Rachel Blanchard (Road Trip), Vera Filatova and Sophie Winkleman, who U.S. audiences might recognize from Two and a Half Men and the short-lived 100 Questions.
While you laugh hysterically, Peep Show is unlike most sitcoms, with episodes never ending on a happy note. For some odd reason, it is all part of the show's charm. You can watch all of the seasons by purchasing them on Amazon and buying them is a great idea since every episode is worth multiple viewings. At only six episodes per series and running only close to 30 minutes each, the show is a great comedy from overseas worth watching even if you are not a fan of British humor.
|4 out of 5 Drunken Dogs|