This program finished over 12 years ago, the DVD’s been out for 4 years, yes I’m late to this, yes, there will be spoilers,
I rented the two series from LoveFilm after searching Amazon for Dylan Moran. It’s written by Simon Nye (writer, Men Behaving Badly) and stars Dylan Moran (Black Books), I’ll give it a go.
The description I got, from reading the synopsis was “a man from the city moves to the country for his wife Lisa (Charlotte Coleman), and struggles to adapt to the rural lifestyle, while starting a new photography business, failing to win the approval of his in-laws, with hilarious consequences. What I got was much, much darker. Take the League of Gentlemen, mix it with The Wicker Man, and chuck in awkward silences, and you are left with the disturbing story of a man who gives up his lifestyle for the woman he loves, to find himself bullied, humiliated, attacked and beaten down to alcoholism and reckless abandon. He tries constantly to fit in and be liked, but no one finds him funny and they are all pre-disposed to hate him.
The shots are all English country side, it’s always overcast, the scenery, while it should be picturesque, adds a layer of bleakness to the situation, while the incidental harmonica music, always the same, is eerie and foreboding. The writers aren’t afraid to end an episode on a downer, in one, the camera pans away from Ian’s sister in law Helen, standing by her burnt out shop, financially ruined by the business decisions and carelessness of Ian.
Without giving too much away, Ian gets bribed to divorce his wife by Astley (his father in law), is locked in a turkey shed with thousands of angry turkeys, has naked photos of himself and his wife stolen and passed around the town, burns down his sister in laws shop, shoots his father in law, turns to alcohol, has his car put in a tree, gets hazed, almost murdered, and generally humiliated. One of the biggest thorns in his side is the imposing Peter Serafinowicz who plays Ian’s brother in law, Dean. He almost seems to like Ian, but at the same time, he’ll back his father completely and is loyal to his sister. This leads Dean to in private, beat, blackmail and threaten Ian, and uses this to force Ian to join in with him and his mates at the pub, or on the football pitch. It’s a Cable Guy like character, minus the wackiness.
So, did I like it? Well, despite what you may think from what I said above, yes. Yes I did like it. Dylan Moran plays a character that he seemingly based Bernard Black on. Bumbling, prone to drunkenness while being slightly abrasive and dismissive of other people. The script is good and the characters compelling. Despite everything, you can believe that Ian will put up with this for Lisa. The series ended, due to the passing of Charlotte Coleman, but honestly, I don’t think it could have continued anyway. Like the office, the story had run its course. I think the biggest failing of this series is the marketing. It’s sold wrong. Don’t think of it as a sitcom, think comedy drama. I also think it suffered from being ahead of its time. If it had been made 5 years ago instead of 12, it wouldn’t have been much different, but would have done a lot better.
You can buy it here. At the moment it’s under a fiver. Bargain.