Coupling on BBC2 is the palest imitation of Friends I've ever seen. Having a read reviews of how it's so good it shouldn't even be on BBC2, I couldn't agree less. Just saw the first episode of the third series - primarily because I had a mutual blowing out of arrangements with A - and it's crap. It's faux Friends for the sense of humour challenged - when I taught in Sunday school, one kid used to spell it sensifumere - but then I never got Men Behaving Badly either. It's old gags - 1471 audit trails, the difference between men and women - done in a hackneyed way. That split screen trick is all over the fucking shop nowadays.

It's not Steven Moffat's fault. All the best US sitcoms - Friends, Frasier, Will & Grace, Sex & the City - have teams of writers, who get time to both work the gags and work with the cast, and it shows. US production companies invest serious time and money into their craft, and it makes great TV. We try and get by with one writer, and a cast who don't appear to have the greatest comedy timing, and expect to make great TV. It's shit. It needs to be worked at. Honed. And can the canned laughter, p-u-lease. UK TV companies seem to think if you have a skinny girl and a famous girl, everything else'll be OK. Untrue.

And when the blonde woman has her lip waxed? It's completely the wrong shape of wax-paper, and would have no discernable effect at all.

Verdict: could do better. A lot better. 

23 September 2002

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