After a successful pilot last year Tom “Murder In Successville” Davis’s sitcom about a working class bloke and his wife Terri (Laura Checkley) has now been given a series, with the first episode airing last night. The set up is that apart from Gary they’re mostly loud and arrogant characters because apparently working class is shorthand for shouty and annoying, which is pretty offensive really, but hey, that’s broad tv comedy for you I guess.
In this first episode there’s two main plots, one where at the building firm Gary runs there’s a problem with one of the workers as the rather shitty Lee Benson (Jamie Michie) is being something of a practical joker / bully, yet because the show likes to mock Gary’s vague cowardice he’s reluctant to do anything about him. Meanwhile Gary’s son Teddy (sort of) has his first date, and so Gary’s wife Terri gets overexcited and tries to organise it all and acts as if they’re going to be a couple for life.
It’s packed full of toxic masculinity and men being shitty to each other and is pretty unpleasant in places, and the way these men treat each other isn’t funny no matter how it’s presented. The show also derives jokes out of Gary being a little insecure about his manliness and his inability as to how to deal with a shitty twat like Lee Benson, but the majority of them are weak, especially those about his need to wear glasses which feel like as if this is something from the nineteen seventies and a time where it came as a shock when a man’s eyesight started to fail.
It’s not all bad, when Gary finally confronts Lee the latter becomes emotional and confesses he envies Gary’s life and that he never knew his own father, and seeing Lee be vulnerable and ask Gary for a hug is a rare sweet and amusing moment in the show. But it doesn’t last as when Gary’s colleague Winkle (Neil Maskell, so good in Utopia but a bit wasted here) tells everyone about Lee crying he comes to the office and threatens violence. And just when it looks when it looks like a fight is going to break out Gary’s Dad Big Gary (Simon Day) turns up and resolves everything.
Simon Day is something of a comedy legend and I had high hopes for the series due to his involvement but he’s a little wasted here, being a loutish type 95% of the time and mocking Gary over his wearing glasses. He does at least offer up some fatherly advice right at the end but it doesn’t stop the character from being a little annoying, some may find his laddish behaviour amusing but it didn’t work for me.
The plot with Terri and Teddy is a bit poor too, with the central message of “Envy isn’t an attractive emotion” hammered home without any subtlety, and though there’s a couple of amusing lines when Teddy is on his date most of it failed to even raise a smile. Tom Davis’s ITV2 sitcom Action Team was also a disappointment and suffered from many of the issues King Gary does too, so I can’t help but feel that perhaps Davis should return to the improv comedy of Murder In Successville, as he’s definitely better at it then he is writing traditional sitcoms.