Saturday, 12 January 2013

Review: Pramface 2.1

Don't ask.

Pramface - Series Two, Episode One - The Edge of Hell
Written between 11th and 12th January 2013

I think it's fair to say that I didn't like Pramface in its first series. It was stuffed to the gills with as many clichés as is physically possible, and took what could have been an interesting series and made it dry, humorless and crude. The show improved drastically with its final episode, in which the premise of the series was actually fulfilled to its potential. While I was quite annoyed at the Beeb's decision to re-launch Pramface in exchange for the wonderful The Fades, this week's hour-long return blew through all of my expectations and, while still stuck with a few of the series' problems, felt a lot less tired than it used to.
     It's the preparation for the Christening, that strange thing that all British sitcoms insist must happen to a child regardless of their parents' religious beliefs. While Laura and Jamie are just trying to settle on a name, the circumstances of the event is setting everyone alight. For a reason I can't remember, Laura's dad (Angus Deayton) has got memory problems which his wife (Anna Chancellor) is exploiting to steal his job and regain some control over her life. Wanting to be best man, Jamie's friend Mike (Dylan Edwards) tries to find his religious side, while Beth (Yasmin Paige) is yet again used ineffectively as an atheist stereotype. Jamie's father gets a job to try and get more responsibility, but Jamie ends up having to fire him. It all culminates in the Christening, where Jamie tells everyone that the baby's name is Emily, and that he doesn't care what anyone else thinks anymore as long as the baby and Laura are happy.
     The episode did feel a little unfocused, but I think that the ridiculous number of subplots is what it needed to get through the hour. It certainly allowed it a lot of different scenarios from which to draw comedy, many of which actually managed to make me laugh. My favourite scene was probably the culmination of Mike's storyline, in which a possible sexual encounter is stopped by the everwatchful eyes of Jesus Christ. I also loved the impossibly brief cameos by Sara Stewart (Stella from Sugar Rush) and Fiona Button (Tess from Lip Service) as two of Laura's aunts, who I want to see more of in the future. Overall, the main thing was that the characters were just better written, and fell into less of the annoying cubbyholes that the series had in the past - especially Jamie.
Jamie and Laura feel like the sane ones for a change.
     Pramface's return has actually tempted me to watch it, and given my reaction to the first series that's rather remarkable. It was by no means perfect, and there's still this lingering stench of what came before hanging around in the atmosphere. But it felt like the series has really upped its game in terms of what it knows how to do, and I'm getting the feeling that now that we've got our family unit in place, there's gonna be a much wider potential for comedy in areas other than the cliched pregnancy and baby jokes that I've been expecting. So, luck willing, I'll be continuing these reviews on Tuesdays, which is when the series returns. I only hope that it can live up to this premier.


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