Surely most people reading this will be aware of the basic premise of peep show, but for the as-yet-uninitiated, a brief synopsis: Mark and Jeremy (David Mitchell and Robert Webb) are flatmates in suburban London. Mark is a reasonably successful executive in a finance company, Jez can be accurately described as a bum. The two of them have an oddly symbiotic relationship, with the massive character flaws in each of them strangely balanced out between them. Mitchell is quoted as saying that they both take comfort in the fact that they aren't the other. The series follow their exploits in a quirky style, with footage mainly shot from the perspective of the two characters, and a voiceover of the thoughts running through their heads adding another dimension to the comedy.
This unconventional style of filming is just one of the factors that makes Peep Show stand out from the crowd. The comedic talents of Mitchell and Webb are probably at their most sublime here, with spot-on timing and biting sarcasm seemingly second nature to both of them. The support characters are all unusually strong as well, with many cliches avoided and even minor characters contributing hilarious lines of dialogue (most noteworthy of all is Matt King as Superhans, Jez's bandmate, who is utterly sublime and ridiculous).
However, what really makes Peep Show is the writing. It goes without saying that good comedy needs a good script, but this is something else. The writers (Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain) clearly know Mitchell and Webb exceptionally well, and it's plain to see that Mark and Jez are massively grotesque versions of the actors that portray them. This, added to the razor sharp wit of all the contributors, means that the dialogue is always perfectly matched to the performers, and is also supremely well constructed.
In the hands of a less talented group of people, the idea of a POV sitcom with a voiceover of the characters' thoughts could have been carcrash television at its worst, but in the capable hands of Armstrong, Bain, Mitchell, Webb, and all the other contributors, the shooting style and voiceover ideas add new dimensions to the comedy. Beautifully crafted dialogue and plots follow in the rich vein of footlights comedy, with Blackadder an obvious influence. But Peep Show has a place of its own, as a modern take on these ideas, with cultural relevance and incicive wit. Somehow it has remained fresh (and even become more refined) since its inception, and long may it continue.