23 October 2006 | Pedro_H
Very watchable - although predictable and limp.
Rick Spleen (Jack Dee) is a married middle-income comedian but finds that life rarely goes right for him or makes him happy.
Jack Dee is a one note comedian whose one joke is to look cynically at life and all the strange customs it entails. So it is no surprise that this comedy sees him as a sourpuss comedian (although we don't see him perform on-stage) who doesn't like much about modern life and finds lots to complain about.
From the first few episodes the formula is clearly set in stone. Something small goes wrong and in an attempt to solve the problem Spleen makes things worse and worse. The old "drowning man" scenario - the more he thrashes the deeper down in to the water he goes.
A regular crew of characters come and go (usually after taking from him) although he has a nice show biz wife who (in the custom of sitcom) spouts the common-sense that, if followed, would prevent the show being made in the first place!
The problem is that this is one of those micro-joke comedies. There is nothing to laugh at, although you might grunt a few times and desperation of the script is often exposed. Would you want to hurt somebody just to save yourself some money (you'll have to watch the show to fully understand), only a horrible person would do that!
Like his offbeat comedian college - Rick Gervais - he is not really an actor, so he just stands there and delivers the line without stress or feeling. At times he sounds like a speak-your-weight machine.
He has a horrible daughter (Sam) who only appears to cadge money through emotional blackmail - who tags along the kind of boyfriend that you fear. Thankfully Spleen is too far up his own backside to know that he is being taken for a ride and the child always gets her prize.
Comedians are often not funny off-stage. Many times the product of a long hard struggle where money was tight and friends are spaced out. It is a loners profession. Spleen is just not that funny off-stage (is he any good on?) - indeed most of the good lines are actually spoken by others.
Jack Dee is a lucky comedian - he came along at a time when his cynical lines where lapped up by an equally cynical audience. Here he is just a fall guy for everyone and anything and not the sharp one-liner guy that would be much more magnetic and watchable.