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Marion and Geoff series one (2000)

without comments

Concept: 'We won't laugh at you when you boo-hoo-hoo because we love you'

Rob Brydon is Keith, a minicab driver whose life is falling apart. He doesn't get any work and he's in the middle of a divorce from his wife Marion who has left him for her more successful work colleague Geoff. She has his two sons, the 'little smashers', who he'd love to see again, but things keep going wrong. Despite this, and his trapped wind, he is hopelessly optimistic and talks to a camera in his car as he drives around.

What's good: The writing. As well as a genuine and believable story arc, there is the combination of deeply moving scenes – such as his repeated failure to see the little smashers – and unexpected humour. Keith is on the side of the underdog and, over the series, moves from being victim of events to someone in control of them, at least in part.

Any monologue based show depends on the central performance and Brydon's is astonishingly good.

What's not so good: The vast majority of the time is a single static shot of Brydon driving and not telling jokes. I like it, but the 'one long programme' (OLP) version pushes the format to the limit and, for some people, beyond. If you're one of those, there's also the option to see the original ten minute episodes.

Music: A few tracks used well.

It's not acknowledged on the cover but there is the odd musical edit for 'contractual reasons' (i.e. it cost too much to use the original track for the DVD).

Miscellany: The story about the primates at the zoo is, apparently, true. The OLP version has the sign of the zoo edited, but the episode version shows which it was.

Overall: You can see why the BBC were initially reluctant to commission this. On paper, it sounds unpromising. Fortunately for us, it was also cheap – no sets, large cast or crew!

Unlike Alan Partridge or The Office's David Brent, Keith is thoroughly likeable. It is not the cringe-making comedy of embarrassment of the other two, but more like Alan Bennett's Talking Heads. Whether or not you appreciate Marion and Geoff as much as I do depends on how much you like its utterly dry humour.

TL;DR The modern Candide

Film: 5/5
DVD: 5/5

The OLP edit with the original ten ten minute programmes as an extra – there are a few minor differences (such as the scene post-credits on the airport/zoo episode) and, as noted above, for some people, it's better watched in small chunks. The OLP has a good commentary from Brydon and co-writer, producer and director Hugo Blick, and there is also a Comic Relief special plus some out-takes and still photos.

You can also get series one and two together.

Written by Ian

December 3rd, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Posted in DVDs,TV

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