While the sheer range of characters depicted in Human Remains represents a prodigious feat on the part of both actors, the show has much in common with Brydon's other hit Marion and Geoff. The strangeness or awfulness of each couple's situation generally takes a while to come into focus, the deeper truths conveyed through low-level bickering, cumulatively revealed in deceptively banal interviews to camera. Brydon and Davis are sometimes merciless in their satirical savagery, as with the Alanis Morissette wannabe Fonte Bund; at other times, Human Remains is too bleak to watch. However, the sheer acuity and detail with which these characters are unwittingly realised, coupled with the brilliance of the (semi-improvised) monologues/dialogue means that our encounters with them, although mercifully brief, are both hilarious and touching. This is an exceptional series.
On the DVD: Human Remains features a generous package of extras, including deleted scenes and outtakes, among them an extension of the "healing" scene featured in the episode with the S&M couple, footage of the early rehearsals and improvisations from which the characters took shape, a commentary in which Davis and Brydon recap on the circumstances of the filming, an excerpt of the pair in S&M gear singing "American Pie" in rich Brummie accents and, best of all, the Fonte Bund Band in which the folk-rock duo featured in the series have an added, Spinal Tap-type documentary also starring John Martyn (who supplies the series' theme). --David Stubbs
'Human Remains' is not the sort of series you can watch that often, but it is still worth owning on DVD as there are plenty of moments that are simply priceless. The DVD comes with some really nice touches, especially the option to watch the episodes with links to rehearsal improvisations. This gives a great insight into how the comic brains of Brydon and Davis really work. It also allows you to see them laugh (since they obviously can't in the actual programmes)... you can hardly blame them! If you can't decide whether you want this or "Marion and Geoff", I suggest you buy them both!
The episodes have some great side-splitting moments as you would expect, and some great acting from the support actors as well as Rob Brydon and Julia Davis. And typically there are lots of subtle details that mean you need to pay close attention to get all the jokes.
The DVD is also very generous with plenty of extra material, including the original improv that the actors did to come up with the characters.
The original improv, commentary and outakes are actually some of the funniest (and revealing) material on the DVD. It's almost worth listening to the commentary first to spot all the jokes as some of them are actually too subtle to pick up from the episodes proper.
The only downside is that this series didn't work quite as well as either Marion & Geoff or Nighty Night and there are some quiet periods in some of the episodes. Plus the porn scene is All Over My Glasses is a little too brutal to be funny. Interestingly the actors seem to agree judging by the DVD commentary.
Still it is fascinating to see and hear how Rob Brydon and Julia Davis developed the characters and there are enough funny momments and great performances to make it a worthwhile purchase. It's worth it just for some of the classic lines in "An English Squeak" and "Slither In".
I really wanted to give this 5 stars but I've only given 4 stars because it wasn't quite as well-finished as other programmes that Rob Brydon and Julia Davis have done.
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