14 August 2006 | bob the moo
Distracting and entertaining fare from Coogan but doesn't have the legs to get many more series if any I'd guess
Tom Saxondale is a middle-aged man with memories of being a roadie in the 1970's. He struggles with his temper and does weekly group sessions to try and control it. He drives a Mustang, lives in Stevenage, works as a subcontractor for a pest control company and is quite a boring man with a kinky side and a belief that he is cool and outside the system. When he takes on young Raymond to help him with the business he and wife Mags also agree to let the lad stay in their spare room.
Steve Coogan is normally worth a look and this most recent series is a solid British comedy that is recognisable and funny without being totally on the mark or sharp. The plots are mostly pretty thin and each episode is more about being a couple of set pieces based on the characters being who they are. In regards a narrative then the series probably doesn't have the legs to stand as a great comedy but it is certainly a fine one. The characterisation is where the strength is and, although he is a bit like Partridge, Saxondale is his own man and is recognisable as the type of man who wants to be seen to have his rebellious streak while also embracing his middle-age. He is a bit boring, selfish and easily frustrated and many viewers will be familiar with people like him. He is supported by a quiet teenager, a scathing secretary and a forgiving wife and their characters are quite important as well. These characters are used in similar ways in each episode and, although a bit samey, it is amusing if only occasionally producing big laughs.
Coogan works well with his own material and understands his character well. As a writer he could have made more of it but as actor he is convincing and suitably unappealing. The script didn't always convince me as to why he has the people around him that he does. Specifically why he manages to appeal to Magz was a mystery although Jones did well to cover that up by giving her character an appropriate manner. Hardiker is better because his character is less forgiving of Tommy or rather has less time to humour him aside from his he also carries off the "YTS" characteristics very well. Banks is pretty funny and, although she has a very one-note character, she does hit the "crude small office b*tch" pretty much on the head.
Overall this was an OK series but not one I would rush back to. Saxondale was an interesting character but it wasn't as "real" or insightful as I would have liked. The series produced chuckles but rarely brought out belly laughs from me. Distracting and entertaining fare from Coogan but doesn't have the legs to get many more series if any I'd guess.