Coupling: Complete Series 1 [DVD]
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First series of the Britcom about a group of six friends - three men and three women - and the ups and downs they encounter playing the 21st century dating game. In 'Flushes' Steve expresses his wish to date Susan. 'Size Matters' sees Susan invite Steve around for dinner. 'Sex, Death and Nudity' has Jane ask Steve to pretend he is still her boyfriend and accompany her to a funeral. 'Inferno' finds Steve on the defensive when Susan discovers a porno tape in his collection. 'The Girl with Two Breasts' sees Jeff suffering from language problems when he tries to chat-up a foreign woman. Finally, in 'The Cupboard of Patrick's Love', the friends are shocked and excited to discover Patrick's collection of video tapes featuring his previous girlfriends.
Coupling is a witty, instantly addictive series that charts the tangled sex lives of a close-knit group comprising "exes and best friends": womaniser Jack, hapless nice guy Steve, "strange and disturbing" Jeff, uninhibited Susan, neurotic Sally and manipulative Jane. The obvious frame of reference is Friends (Steve and Susan are the Ross and Rachel equivalent), but this series also echoes Seinfeld in its coinage of catchphrases and plot lines (in episode one, Steve tries to dump Jane, who refuses to accept). But it's no mere British clone of US sitcoms: Coupling has its own fresh and provocative take on relationships. At one point, a furious Susan discovers that Patrick not only had a videotape of the former couple having sex, but that he also taped over her. --Donald Liebenson
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As a native New Yorker, grown tired years ago of "Friends" (I cringe when having to witness the show's Hollyweird depiction of a NYC street scene, replete with stereotypes that disappeared when Elvis was in knee-pants), "Coupling" is a clever, well-performed and hilariously entertaining breath of fresh air.
Situation comedy at its best.
Centred conceptually around the complex inter-relationships of six friends, and physically around their favourite bar, the series contains countless sharp observations on sexual politics while sensibly focussing on laughs first and issues second. Central to the appeal of the show is the glee which writer Steven Moffat takes in his characters; the anarchically unhinged Jane; the obsessively analytical Geoff, whose whacky theories, and their frequent self-fulfilment, form a recurring theme; the shallow Patrick, the nervy Sally, the unnervingly forward Susan and the struggling nice-guy Steve. You've seen them all in your local, and these distillations are so skillful you'll swear you've met them in person.
The six episodes on this DVD serve to set a style and lay a foundation for a series which could run and run. From the terrors of the Sock Gap, through the trials of the Giggle Loop, to the sheer audacious brilliance of staging half an episode in Hebrew just to get a cheap tit gag, "Coupling" Series One will have you pounding on Moffat's door simply demanding more.
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