Because I review a whole tv series rather than individual episodes, there is a chance of spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the whole series yet, stop reading now!
Britain do a particular style of sitcom better than any other… the “everyday” sitcom. What I mean by that is a sitcom where the “situation” is actually very mundane. Not a coming together of unlikely family members or two mismatched people forced to live together with “hilarious” consequences, but a sitcom set in an everyday, very familiar environment.
The most famous (and arguably the most successful) is probably The Office. The comedy wasn’t ridiculous, the characters weren’t extreme and the appeal was that it was so familiar to everyone. People watched these characters and could recognise people they knew in each of them.
The Office isn’t the only example. The Royle Family did the same but with the everyday, family dynamic, keeping the action (for the most part) in the living room. The setting was familiar and the characters were recognisable. In the same style, but not quite the same league, is Trollied.
Trollied is set in a fictional supermarket and follows the events of any given day in the store. The success is that the characters aren’t extreme or clichéd but instead are recognisable and subtle. The setting is familiar, everyone has been to a supermarket at some point, most people once a week at least, so when you see a person struggle with the small plastic bags for the veg or knocking over a whole stand of products, it raises a smile or nod of recognition and empathy.
On top of that are some great stories. They aren’t huge, game changing stories but just subtle, character created situations. A butcher who is clearly under-prepared for a marathon, a vice-manager who is overly enthusiastic about receiving a handbook and an older employee who has the full day to prepare for an announcement on the tannoy.
In fact, it’s the character of Margaret who steals the whole show. She gets the best lines, usually stealing a whole scene with a misunderstood comment or crossed lines. Put her in a scene with Mark Addy and Nick Blood who play the supermarket butchers and you get the best chemistry and on-screen relationship and this is where most of the “laugh-out-loud” comedy comes from.
It’s just a shame that it comes from too few places. It’s a charming program and hugely watchable but it’s never as clever or funny as other comedies in the same, “realistic” area. It has the benefit of lots of characters but only a few are great and if you don’t really like a character and its their storyline, you do just wait for it to get back to characters you prefer. It becomes even more of a problem when its one of the “main” characters you don’t gel with, in this case Jane Horrock’s Julie.
It’s not that she is unfunny or annoying, she just doesn’t appeal. When you have more charming characters like Margaret, Leighton or The Butchers, her character, and in particular her more vile characteristics, stick out further.
Regardless of this though, the program is charming, very funny in places and hugely watchable. It surprised me how much I actually enjoyed it and I look forward to a new episode every week, especially now the second series has started.
Overall, a great show with great characters. Its set in a familiar location and plays on that perfectly. Most of the characters are charming and brilliantly under-played without going to “sitcom” extremes for laughs. Well worth a watch.
Best Episode – Episode 3 (where Andy “prepares” for the marathon)
Best Performance – Rita May as Margaret
Should they have made another season – Definitely. This series has got a lot more to offer.
Season Rating – 3.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)