on 2 September 2007
This mockumentary highlighting the relationship between six mostly profoundly mismatched couples in as many episodes is one of the most disturbingly funny, beautifully shot, and tightly scripted series I have ever seen.
Rob Brydon and Julia Davis both wrote and acted in the series; each portrays a palette of characters which is each convincing and beautifully developed, distinct, and with real depth. If it weren't for its restrained twistedness, you would be convinced these were genuine people- it just looks so documentary. Half the time, you won't know whether you should be laughing or crying as the darkly desperate details of the mundane and mostly banal misery of each couples' lives unfold - I know you're thinking crying is the proper answer, but I was borderline hypoxic much of the time because this dark desperation comes cloaked in brilliant, straight-faced absurdity. The scary thing is, we all know people who are not so far removed from these characters, and the series is like a looking glass into their inner workings.
There is nothing slapstick about Human Remains- this is comedy best watched with your ears more than your eyes- and much of it is subtle. Because of this, you can watch the series time after time, and each time get a slightly different take than the last time. Now, that's value for money. This series is a work of genius and worthy of great respect.
Rob Brydon and Julia Davis turn in some astounding performances in this brilliantly funny series, co-produced by Steve Coogan. This is black comedy as it should be...realistic, subtle and in places quite disturbing. Presented in the format of six stand-alone fly-on-the-wall documentaries following the lives of six (wildly different) married couples, the linking theme is that each relationship is in some way horribly warped. Loveless relationships, sexual frustration and perversity, and dominant and totally imbalanced pairings are central themes throughout the series, and make for some horribly cringe-worthy moments, of which Rob Brydon is the absolute master. The range of characters that Brydon and Davis create and bring to life so realistically is quite amazing, and is performance comedy at it's very best.
'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!
on 3 October 2003
When explaining Human Remains it is difficult to highlight the fact that this is funny. Disfunctional couples, dark hidden pasts and unrequented love are not your typical comedy subjects.
I guess the people in the programmes are just as the title says, Human Remains, once they were complete but due to past events such as lost loved ones, children being taken away, lack of emotional support etc they are now flawed.
The characters are very well created and are all totally believable, never once becoming caricatures of themselves.
There are some quite disturbing and upsetting scenes, ones that you feel you should not be privy to, Les gazing longingly through the shop door at Ray when he returns from beach combing breaks my heart everytime I see it, he lets his cheerey defence drop for a few seconds revealing a rainbow of human emotion never previously seen in him.
There are also some brilliantly funny scenes, Stephen throwing mock punches at the shop owner while his wife is trying on wedding dresses is perhaps one of the best, once he sees the shop owner flinch he goes in for the kill by getting her in a playful headlock!
All in all a brilliant series and if you are keen on new british comedy it is one not to be missed.
on 23 April 2013
When this series first ran on BBC-2, my mother would ask, 'What are you watching?', as was her wont with anything that was edgy and weird. This is still edgy and weird thirteen years on!
Julia Davis and Rob Brydon were a team on this - evolving stories that weren't laugh out loud funny, but thought-provoking. I still feel sad at Les and Rae's story, 'More Than Happy' and would love to see a follow-up story where they foster a child or two as replacement for the twins they lost. They could have gone to Uganda (Rob's visit for Comic Relief in 2013 was so touching). Les's little songs made me smile - No Peas In Barcelona, and I'm The Happiest Man Alive for two. I could picture the character singing these to a child and missing out a word so they could fill it in.
Peter in 'An English Squeak' was another manchild - possibly further up the social scale than Keith Barret, but still in arrested development. His wife was so in thrall to her dead husband Geoffrey (Rob in the flashbacks in a blond wig and lighter contact lenses) that she made poor Peter lie by his graveside in preparation for his own death. I think she was lying about the vaginismus, and I'm glad Peter let off his frustrations with Nanna (Joanna Scanlan)! But the bit at the birthday party made me feel sad - when he says his grandfather and father both died at 40, and he was turning 40. His facepaint suggested death even though the clowns and balloons were supposed to be happy, and the wife's clumsy playing of 'Moonlight Sonata' on the piano seemed funereal too.
The religious couple were very strange - surely they would have twigged that the couple they regularly delivered curly sausage casserole to (this is not a euphemism) were gay? Rob as the minister had a grey wig and blue contact lenses, making me think of Roger Daltrey mixed with Robert Kilroy-Silk! I loved the bit where they were singing 'Have I The Right?' to the dog on the bonus material. He ought to have done 'Dogs' (The Who song about the dog races guy, not Pink Floyd's)!
'All Over My Glasses' featured a little football boor called Stephen, with custard-yellow Tintin hair I feel sure was reprised for Matt Lucas's Daffyd in 'Little Britain'! I can't believe the actor who portrayed damaged souls like Keith Barret and Bryn West was the same man who shouted at his girlfriend in this over the choice of the music for their wedding, and then turned his back on her when she was several months gone with their child. Ruth Jones plays the part of the girl's best friend, and she has a thoroughly rotten time with him and his best friend (Mark Benton) on their stag night.
The swingers in 'Slither In' were a weird couple. They wanted to renovate the room where the sister (?) Val still lay in a coma - we never did get to know if she recovered or died. They also had a dungeon full of S & M gear downstairs at their seaside home.
'Hairless' was my favourite episode after 'More Than Happy'. Fonte Bund's bickering with poor, put-upon Barne Willers made me think of what may have led to Steve Caton departing Tori Amos's touring band! I felt like I wanted to give him a hug and tell him to leave her and get his own songs heard - I liked the 'Cat & The Mouse' song (shades of Genesis's 'All In A Mouse's Night')! He seemed like a real life musician to me; his day job in a solicitor's made me think of members of IQ and Spock's Beard that couldn't have their respective bands as full-time work. I was convinced that his squint was for real until I saw the makeup tests - I was thinking, did he get a squint corrected much later in life than some other people? The touring adventures of Fonte and Barne are on the bonus material, also featuring John Martyn who supplied the series's theme song.
The bonus material also includes the improvisations Rob and Julia did that were the basis for the scripts. It's so lovely to see them laughing behind the scenes, after all that!
on 6 February 2005
Having really enjoyed Nighty Night and Marion & Geoff this was an obvious purchase as it combines the talents of two of my favorite comic performers of recent years.
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.
on 1 June 2009
This series is something else. First off, the sheer versatility of the actors is simply amazing. You can hardly believe the transformations between the various characters. The script is wickedly hilarious, but ever so subtle. You really have to listen closely and pay attention for some truly amazing lines. I loved this series for the observations on life, and it will take you places no other series will take you. This is definitely not one of those predictable boy meets girl comedies, but a completely original take on love and why people stay together. Brilliant. Also included are some wonderful special features (my favorite being the fake documentary on the Fonte Bund Band, which not only makes fun of the characters, but the documentary/reality genre) and the deleted scenes are priceless. Remember, this is VERY dark humor, so those of you who are squeamish are advised to stay away. But for the adventuresome, this will be a welcome addition.
on 11 August 2011
I believe this was only ever shown once on BBC 2 in 2000 when it first came out. I don't know why it's never been repeated.
I have watched this several times and everytime, I've noticed something else. Julia Davis and Rob Brydon really are brilliant. Original and SO talented. The episode starring the Brighton couple, she with Tinnitus and a bit of a tranquiliser addiction , he with the dreadful comb-over makes me cry with laughter.
As much as I love Nighty Night, I have to say that Julia's leanings towards the absurd are curbed a bit by Rob Brydon's more grounded wit in Human Remains. Wonderful. Don't hesitate to buy
on 4 June 2004
Human remains is one of the very best comedy's in the last ten years. Written by and starring two of the best writers around today,Rob brydon (Marion and Geoff) and Julia Davis (Nighty Night).Shot as a fly-on-the-wall documentary about six different couples,one in each episode.Rob brydon and Julia Davis are both exceptional playing the six characters. With a very high standard through-out this comedy could be called 'as good as the office, but without the hype'! All six characters are thought through and very funny. it's very dark and some comments are close to the bone, but done in a clever way so even the most offensive,sick comment turns out hilarious. My two favorite couples are Beverley and Tony. When describing why Tony couldn't have sex with his ex-wife he politely comments "You can't have a roast without the gravy" When hosting one of their church nights for people with disabilities Beverley comments "we'll be serving tea...and biscults for those that can." And "Our neighbours are depressed, but not too depressed to get sky digital.Two hundred channels, all owned by satin." The other couple are Gordon and Sheila "Ignorance is bliss, that to me is the beauty of a coma." is one of the best lines, that just keep on coming throughout the six episodes. Gordon and Sheila are swingers (and two of the weirdest looking people ever!) wanting to host swing sem 2002,but with one small problem,sheila's sister is in the spare room, in a coma! With comedey's as good as this,its strange that the bbc keeps showing repeats of coupling and two pints, but never this. This is a must have for any true comedy fan. Produced by Steve Coogan, and from his production company, Baby Cow,this is a winner all the way.The D.V.D is packed with brillant extras which are worth the money on their own. I'll leave the last word to swinger Gordon "Some people think swinging is just about junking off over other peoples wives, but its more then that.Theres travel......but for me its about junking off over other peoples wives"!
on 14 October 2003
I won't go into further gushing praise over this fantastic dark series...if you're reading this you probably know at least something about Rob Brydon and Julia Davies anyway. What I will say is that the DVD adds so much more - I've rarely come across a DVD which has so many excellent additional features. As well as the essential Rob and Julia commentary, you really get an idea of what it takes to come up with initially massively improvised dialog and how it forms the finished script. We see them initiating the characters, right from Robs monologue where he's thinking on his feet, stitching together shreds of a character on the spot. There are dialogues between Rob and Julia on a sofa and you can see how the finished scenes took form. They stay in character throughout the frankly scary makeup sessions...all in all it strips the series down and you get to see how the cogs turn from inception to final recording. The outtakes are hillarious...typically Julia cracks up laughing while Rob stays in character and keeps going. To do him a huge dis-service, I'd say he's a little like a tragi Steve Coogan...when interviewed on TV he doesn't really manage to convey the genius going on in his mind but there isn't a better comedy character actor I swear. Is Julia Davies single by the way?! Blimey...she's something else. You might have previously spotted her in Jaaaam. Top notch, very subtle, very smart.
on 6 December 2009
A great laugh, I can see me watching this again every six months. The best part for me was when the toff says:
"I'm on a few boards. I can't honestly say the work is demanding, but I find it very very difficult."
The subtle change in expression as he says this is a wonder to behold.