Monday 12 September 2016

Friday Night Dinner - Season 4

‘Friday Night Dinner’ is one of those comedies that I always really look forward to between series. We’re now on series 4, yet the regular dinner nights are still happening. In this series, there’s a whole host of new cringe-worthy and disastrous antics taking place, from Martin (Paul Ritter) inviting the wrong man round to dinner, to neighbour Jim (Mark Heap) somehow managing to pass his driving test. 

There’s more new characters introduced this series, such as Annoying Tony and Jonny’s spontaneous wife from America, but sadly we don’t get so many revisits from some of the older characters. This does leave space for more development, however – in particular Horrible Grandma makes a great return in episode 5 and we get to see a new, scheming side of her that hasn’t been visited previously. Aunty Val also makes more appearances than usual, and we also get a couple of hilarious in-jokes brought back to life (“Shalom!”). There just wasn’t enough of it though.

Martin and Jim are still as hilarious as ever, but sadly some of the other characters aren’t quite as funny anymore. The humour from Adam (Simon Bird) and Jonny (Tom Rosenthal) isn’t as original anymore, and so it feels a bit like the focus has been taken away from them. Jonny also seems weirdly angrier than usual – I wasn’t sure whether this was deliberate or not, but this didn’t really do anything for the comedy.

The whole series is still really good though, if a little less realistic than usual (watch episode 2 and you’ll know what I mean). By far the best watch was episode 5 – of course there were other brilliant scenes scattered throughout the series, but I felt that this episode was the only one that truly contained the previous series’ level of humour the whole way through. It’s not that the humour isn’t funny anymore, because it is – it’s just not side-splitting, or quite so laugh-out-loud. There are a certain couple of episodes from the previous series, like the one where Jim tries to steal Buggy from Adam, which even now will have me crying from laughter, so it was a bit of a shame to not experience this quite as much.

Robert Popper’s writing is still brilliant though and, even though the show needs a bit more originality now, the familiar Friday night set-up hasn’t got old yet. The characters spend more time this series outside of the house, and some of the funniest scenes occur in this way. One thing I love is that he still manages to come up with these ridiculous scenarios each episode, and they’re all really funny. I must admit the ending was a bit different for this series, feeling more nostalgic and sad than humorous, but it did create that connection with the viewer again that can easily get lost within the humour.

There’s definitely less continuity, and some of the episodes do seem a bit abrupt (we never actually hear from Jonny’s wife ever again – it’s like the episode ended and the whole memory of her just disappeared) but, despite the weaker than usual scenarios, the humour is great as always. I’d still recommend ‘Friday Night Dinner’ to anyone that enjoys the combination of British slapstick, crude humour, and also good levels of wit.

I give Friday Night Dinner a 3/5.


Hannah Read

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