Michael Winterbottom’s one of the most frustrating directors around as he’s clearly an extremely talented man, but he suffers from what I refer to as “Woody Allen Syndrome” as they both make at least one film a year and it feels like they rush some, that if they spent a little more time developing the scripts they’d create something rather impressive. At least with The Trip Winterbottom’s on firm ground however, with every series of this Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon comedy being a thing of gentle loveliness.
Anyone expecting a shake up of the format will be disappointed but then it would be unusual to want that anyhow, especially as this is apparently the final series with the duo traversing around a new country for the last time while making wry comments about what they encounter, though admittedly a lot of the time it is them making amusing digs at each other in a way which never stops being entertaining
Rob Brydon often coasts on panel shows like Would I Lie To You so it’s a real joy to see him being naturally funny time and again, and while Coogan is undoubtedly one of the greatest comedians in the country in this opening episode it’s Brydon who comes out with the majority of the funniest lines, from his comments to Steve that “You were unpalatable as a young man” to that rarest of things, a funny impersonation of Thomas Hardy as Bane as he and Coogan perform a gloriously strange version of Laurel and Hardy.
Brydon can’t resist the odd dodgy pun every so often like “I had a portent once, no ground street”, and relies on impersonations a little too often – with Coogan rightly chastising him when he breaks out in to Ronnie Corbett yet again, but the majority of them are used in ways far funnier than the shows the Dead Ringers or Alistair McGowan have had their hands in, and both his takes on Michael Parkinson and the Elephant Man generated big laughs.
I don’t want to suggest that Steve Coogan is any way the weak link though, he’s bloody superb throughout too and often leads the conversation in to far more interesting areas as he discusses the nature of imitation and acting, and his impersonations are just as impressive and as funny as Brydon’s too. Coogan also allows Brydon to examine his personality in a lot of insightful ways, the best being where when Brydon asks him what he’s most proud of it’s his seven Baftas rather than his offspring, but there are many other examples I could have listed.
It’s a gentle, warm affair, and though if it’s a series you’ve not had any time for then this latest instalment won’t win you over. But for fans it’s a delightful half hour spent in the company of two masters of comedy, who talk about a number of fascinating subjects and four series in even though the concept is a simple one it’s not something I’m getting bored of in the slightest, to the extent that it will be a real shame if they don’t ever do any more after this.