Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Trip

After one episode of the BBC's new series 'The Trip' starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon I can safely say I enjoyed it.

Others weren't so keen; Sam Wollaston in The Guardian describing it as 'wanky' and 'self-indulgent'. I find that tagging something as 'self-indulgent' is difficult to justify; all projects have to begin with at least an element of self-belief to get off the ground, and the opening episode here showed more than enough quality and potential to rise beyond mere indulgence.

It is certainly a slow-burning show, and the comparisons to Curb Your Enthusiasm have done it no favours. It is not the same ratio of comedy to drama; Curb makes use of slapstick and absurd humour alongside the subtleties of Larry David's exaggerated sociopathic tendencies.

The Trip relies more on reading into Coogan and Brydon's interactions and an appreciation of the dialogue between the pair. They revealed in last week's Review show that the filming of several scenes, which are largely improvised, had to be abandoned when they became too personal. Coogan noted with a hint of disapproval that director Michael Winterbottom's editing of the show had removed several of the funnier parts to create something that was more 'prosaic'.

It struck me that because of the slower pace to the episodes, reviewing it at this early a stage is almost an impossible task. But there were moments of great humour here too; the impressions face-off with Coogan's anger channeled through his best Michael Caine, and the camp eyebrow raising that followed Brydon's example of how to taste wine amongst the highlights.

Most importantly it was never formulaic or predictable, which can be fairly leveled at too many modern comedies. I eagerly await the next episode.