This Steve Coogan effort from 1995 features six stand-alone episodes featuring mainly new characters plus the odd old face, all set in the town of Ottle at different phases of its life. So lets review the episodes seperately:
1) Get Calf - featuring the further adventures of Coogan's original character Paul Calf (not to mention Pauline Calf) as he turns informer on the Parry brothers to spare himself jail and ends up on the run from the vengeful criminals upon their release. Its a wonderful episode, with great support from John Thomson as fat Bob, and its really funny. And George Costigan (Bob in the film Rita, Sue And Bob Too) plays Barry Parry's character so well.
2) Dearth Of A Salesman - This character is a bolshy full of himself salesman called Gareth Cheeseman, attending a sales convention hoping to plug his product and ingratiate himself with some of the industry big-wigs. Again, another wonderful episode and the Cheesman character is like some kind of Alan Partridge on steroids. I wish he'd done a few more episodes with this chararcter.
3) Handyman For All Seasons - Coogan goes back in time to the 50's or 60's (not sure which) where he plays quirky but meticulous handyman Ernest Moss, a pillar of the Ottle community, unaware its the target of land developers, wanting to rebuild the town for a richer clientel, and perceiving Moss as someone who will fight to oppose this, try to undermine his reputation and standing in the town. Although its not in the same vein comedy wise as the previous two episodes, its very well crafted and I thouroughly enjoyed it.
4) Thursday Night Fever - Mike Crystal, an average club singer, has trouble with the seedy and weird boss of his club (played by the wonderful Graham Fellows AKA John Shuttleworth) and seems destined to have his career slowly sink into the mire til he creates a brash alter ego, Clint Stallone (LOL!), who he uses as his manager to get him better deals from the club. I think this is a great episode, although its Shuttleworth's character that steals the show for me.
5) Natural Born Quizzers - Coogan and long time Patric Marber play two unhinged men still dressing up as nerdy schoolboys who are interred at a mental institution til they escape and plan to recreate their greatest failure - a TV quiz competition they lost whilst at school - with the original opponents and host, but with one change - they plan to win. Its an intelligent comedy, and a few Coogan regulars make appearences, but the episode falls a little flat in my eyes.
6) The Curator - Coogan plays Tim Fleck, a museum curator, intent on making his museum the best, by fair means or foul. The weakest episode in the set IMO, and not one i enjoyed much.
Still, its a great set as whole, with only one or two real duff episodes out of the six. But the first two are worth the price alone. Its also cool how each episode features a cameo by Coogan as a character from one of the episodes, for instance, Get Calf has Ernest Moss and Gareth Cheesman making a brief appearances. Love it.
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