26/11/2012 19:45 | By Dan Owen, contributor, MSN TV

TV review: Peep Show's amusing start to series eight

Reviewed: Peep Show, starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb, is now into its eighth series on Channel 4.


Peep Show's David Mitchell and Robert Webb (© Peep Show's David Mitchell and Robert Webb. Image Channel 4)


Summary

Peep Show, Channel 4's Bafta-winning comedy, returns for an eighth series after a two-year hiatus - although little has changed for perennial flatmates Mark (David Mitchell) and Jez (Robert Webb).

Highlight

Mark's hurried eulogy was fun, as was his curry-based punishment from Jez when he saw him eating in a restaurant instead of attending therapy. But I most enjoyed seeing Mark prove himself in a group interview situation. It was a clever reminder that, while a loser in so many ways, Mark's no dummy when it comes to business.

Lowlight

It's a little frustrating that Olivia Colman isn't returning as Sophie, now the actress is receiving critical acclaim for other roles elsewhere. Although I guess the character did feel played out.

Full review

US sitcoms The Big Bang Theory, New Girl and Community are all the rage right now. However, Channel 4's homegrown Peep Show remains one of the most experimental for its unique "first person perspective" format and razor-sharp insight into the male condition.

"We could feasibly follow Mark and Jez into middle-age and beyond."

Now in its ninth year, it's overtaken Drop the Dead Donkey as Channel 4's longest-running sitcom, and still doesn't show enough alarming signs of fatigue.

While its creative peak was probably reached somewhere between series three and five, it has never dropped to an extent where you secretly hope creators Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong bring it to an end.

In fact, we could feasibly follow Mark and Jez into middle-age and beyond.

This premiere wasn't particularly brilliant, but it was a confident and amusing start with one unexpected shock in killing off Gerard.

Peep Show may have been off-air since 2010, but for Mark and Jeremy only a matter of weeks appear to have passed.

Peep Show's winning ways

Despite announcing he's moving out in series seven's finale, Jez still hasn't left the flat (although he's gladly stopped paying rent), while Super Hans (Matt King) appears to be the only person making positive lifestyle changes - now he has a shirt-and-tie job as a bathroom salesman.

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Jez is meanwhile receiving therapy, Mark's upset to discover arch-nemesis Jeff (Neil Fitzmaurice) is dating ex-girlfriend Sophie again (making him "stepdad" to his baby son), and Mark's current squeeze Dobby (Isy Suttie) is the object of an emotional tug-of-war between him and rival Gerard (Jim Howick) - who's currently scoring sympathy points because he's come down with 'flu.

As always, the genius of Peep Show is the format itself where we see everything through either Mark or Jeremy's eyes and get to hear their private thoughts.

No other show can even copy it without there being legal implications, one assumes, so it's pretty unique in the comedy world.

It's such a wonderful device because it's just so entertaining to literally step inside those character's head for a half hour.

If you want to understand the psyche of the typical British male in their twenties and thirties, you need only pop in the Peep Show box-set as it stands today.

Far from the best episode ever made, but it's great to have El Dude Brothers back on our screens for more awkward situations and darkly candid thoughts.

  • Verdict: After all these years, still one of the funnier comedies on TV.

    Star grade


What other reviews say

The Guardian - "It hasn't moved on much in its eight series. Even the point-of-view and the listen-to-my thoughts things feel a bit tired."

Den of Geek - "No shortage of plot in this neatly packed first episode of the new series."

What people on Twitter said

‏@paulwhitelaw - "Peep Show can be great. Sometimes it's quite average. Tonight's episode was quite average."

‏‏@chuckthomasuk - "Peep Show proving once again why it's still the best sitcom on British TV."

The views in this article are those of the author alone and not of MSN or Microsoft

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