Saturday, April 29, 2006

Very small screen recommendation

Hello from Chicago,

On the flight over I noticed a lot of passengers watching mini-DVD's. Who needs that crappy CBS Eye on America with STILL STANDING reruns when you can watch, well, anything else? But what I saw were people watching LORD OF THE RINGS and WAR OF THE WORLDS and TITANIC on their five inch screens. Maybe it's me but don't you lose a little scope?

So my suggestion for you busy travelers with portable DVD players is the British version of COUPLING. All seasons are available. This is the funniest, sharpist sitcom to come along since the British version of the OFFICE. Yes, there was an American version but the one without the benefit of network "improvements" was an exploration of relationships not sex. And cast with endearing goofy FUNNY actors not J Crew models. Sex was just part of the mix. And as an added bonus, you can understand the accents.

With all the talk about comedy being dead these days, check out COUPLING and see that, when done right, the form is very much alive. On a five or fifty inch screen.

11 comments:

Tenspeed & Brownshoe said...

Ken:

You're right about Coupling...er, well, the first 4 seasons anyway.

Jeff left the show and now it's quite horrible. It feels like I'm watching Yes, Dear.

But you can never go wrong with the British version of The Office. Actually my latest post dealt with the death of NBC and the latest crop of comedies. Check it out.

www.tenspeedbrownshoe.blogspot.com

Beth Ciotta said...

BBC America offers some brilliant comedies. I'm a big fan of The Office and Coupling. Although I agree with tenspeed & brownshoe, Coupling wasn't the same once Jeff left. Three more oldie but goodie BBC faves: Absolutely Fabulous, Blackadder, and Fawlty Towers.

Anonymous said...

coupling is a great treat. i lived in evanston for a year and the main perk was that the pbs showed coupling. i've only seen it intermitently, but wholly recommend it. The actor playing Jack is terrific (he was in the Talented Mr. Ripley) and it's soo well done. It's almost too good, with no commercials, it makes your brain actually stay engaged for the length of the half hour. shocking :-). it can sometimes be catched on the bbc america station.

Have a great trip to chicago! and make sure NOT to eat at jacky's bistro!!!!!
-- kate

Anonymous said...

Ken, I think you mean the first three seasons of Coupling. The 4th season falls a little flat with the loss of Jeff/introduction of Oliver.

koutsi said...

Mark: Yeah, but I mean, does size really make a difference? You know what woman always say?
Patrick: Ouch?

the best comedy ever!

Rob Spalding said...

You're right Coupling is great, which is why I was bugged to see the Lovely Sarah Alexander in Teachers, I thought we'd lost her.
But that seems to be ending, was it only supposed to be a short series or did it no go down well?

Also, Stephan Moffat - the writer, wrote the best 2 episodes of the last series of Doctor Who.

Ken Levine said...

The Oliver season wasn't as good but the 8 1'2 minutes episode where we saw the same scene three times from different points of views was absolutely BRILLIANT.

Dave said...

Reading up behind the scenes - it appears that the actor playing Jeff didn't want to return, thus Oliver.

Then NBC bought the show after season 4, and promptly cancelled it in the US - thus killing the show for good everywhere.

The writer then went on to write shows for the new Dr. Who.

Contrary to popular belief, I still think season 4 was funny. It was different, but it's hard to accept something new. Especially if you watch 3 seasons with Jeff (on DVD you can watch them all in a week), and then you're given Oliver. It's a tough transition.

All in all, I still believe season 4 was funnier and more original than most of the stuff we have over here in the USA. When you compare Coupling with (god) it's american counterpart you can see exactly how different our societies are when it comes to television and what is considered "acceptable".

Arakasi said...

What threw me with the American Coupling was when they did scenes that were in the UK version, they simply weren't funny. The dialog for the attempted Jane/Steve breakup in the first episode is almost identical between the two versions. I cannot figure out why I still laugh at the original, while the US version of the same scene doesn't raise a chuckle.

The UK version was also not afraid to not explain a joke.

(Spoiler for season 4)


There is a subtle bit in 9 1/2 Minutes (Series 4, ep 1) when Oliver hands Susan his business card and she gets a strange expression. At this point, she, and the audience, think that he is Jane's gynecologist. Several minutes later, we discover that Oliver runs a specialty SF book/video store named Hellmouth

I'm a bit embarrassed that it took me 3 viewings to catch that one. My wife couldn't figure out why I fell off the couch laughing at what appeared to be filler

Anonymous said...

In Germany Coupling is carried over Nickelodeon at night... in german, naturally, and it REALLY doesnt work. I guess language is essential

Melissa said...

Coupling was brilliant. I never watched the US version. My current BBC America favorite is Little Britian. What I love about British TV is they don't beat a show to death, 3-4 seasons and that's it. Also check out Kath and Kim, an Aussie sitcom, fab.