14 of 22 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Absolute Power : Complete BBC Series 1 [DVD]  (DVD)
When I first saw this quietly blending in to the DVD rental shelf I was overjoyed. PR, you say? Stephen Fry and John Bird, is it? Yes please. Fry the comic institution and cleverest man in the world and Bird the famously natural and funny satirical stalwart. How could it not be a great, cynical sideswipe at corporate London which is funny and clever?
And it is... but not without being far too forced. Fry's extraordinary ability with language and devliery is under-written for, and instead we're given an overkill (a term the writers haven't heard of) of flimsy puns. You really get the feel that the writers sat up all night trawling through every scene, every line, and finding some passable pun for it. Not that it's all bad - as the reviewer below noted there are great lines, and other such gems are delightful. Some of the wordplay is Blackadder-esq (Fry's benchmark for me), such as the scene where Fry is telling a newspaper editor he shouldn't have printed a story about his client being gay when he's not. The editor replies that Fry had told him to "suck it and see". "Sadly for you words never uttered by my client", Fry replies.
The situations range from the workable to the forced. You can just about manage a TV historian getting into a spot of bother and needing PR - it's topical and believable. But a ruralite political party who are secretly nazis pushes the boat a little, and can only have been done to counter the fact that Fry's character, being as huge, bold and as moral-less as he is, would falter with anything slightly less unlikely.
The cast is a bit of a mess. Bird and Fry seem ill at ease working with their uber trendy, model-esq and youthful staff, and staff relations are unconvincing if not irritatingly ambiguous (Jamie treats Allison with contempt but there's no sign that he's her boss and she never thinks to protest). Such is Fry's dominance - both in him and his character - that the rest of the cast are throw-away as their personalities (despite being rather varried and interesting on the surface) are totally unexplored or used. To a point this includes Bird's character too.
It's funny, and I'd happily embrace the 2nd series, if only for the collective brilliance of Fry & Bird (who compliment each other well but aren't together nearly enough), but it's not what it should have been.
EDIT - good to see 8 people continuing the long tradition of misinterpreting the question "Was this review helpful?" as "Do you agree with every sentiment in this review?" :)