Minder episode 2 review

After a poor start last week, Minder reveals its true colours...

I never thought I’d find myself writing this, but Shane Richie made me laugh more than once during this second episode of Channel Five’s ratings winner. In doing so, this re-imagining of the show has begun to show real signs of promise and a suggestion that, if it follows its comedic leanings, it stands a chance of becoming a decent series.

In episode two we got glimpses into Archie Daley’s background. His divorce is going through at a costly rate, he was bullied a little at school by the local hard man (now a loan shark) and he gave up one of the loves of his life to school friend Maurice, played by Rik Mayall.

In Vino Veritas started poorly as it ploddingly set up the plot. Archie’s old school chum Maurice has asked him to help source the necessities for his son’s wedding on the River Thames – at cut price, of course. At the same time, he asks Jamie (played very well this week by Lex Shrapnel) to mind his son-in-law, Neil, who ran out last time round. So, Jamie truly adopts the minder tag of the show’s title and things move along at a slow, slow pace. We discover loan shark Teddy B (who comes up with these names?) is snooping around after Neil, so Jamie picks up the minding pace, only for it all to end up with Neil being bailed out of prison by Archie.

So far, so dull, and I was rapidly beginning to lose interest. But then the show’s middle section started and as the drama gave way to comedy, the show finally began to find its feet. It turns out that Teddy B is actually Neil’s dad and that it’s Maurice he’s after as he owes him cash (the credit crunch is proving hard on the man) but the plot actually took a back seat as the relationships between Archie and Maurice’s wife Jess (played by Meera Syal) and Archie and Jamie came to the fore. Archie used to date Jess in the past and there clearly remained some feelings between the pair, Sayal in particular playing out her role very well. As for Archie and Jamie, the chemistry between the pair was more obvious in this episode and it was good to see that blossoming nicely. The show’s pace also picked up during this section, as the wedding got into full swing and everything just felt much tighter.

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Slap bang in the middle of it all was a five minute sequence that proved to be the show’s standout moment. As a down-on-his-luck wedding singer, organised by Archie, played I’m Not In Love to accompany a good old wedding brawl, it was truly laugh-out-loud funny. Coupled with further glimpses of Archie’s wedding-on-the-cheap ethos, it raised plenty of smiles from me. Even when Maurice decided that he was going to kill himself by throwing himself overboard, that too was coupled with a couple of witty one-liners from Richie: “I will not be party to your euthanasia.”

Unfortunately, the episode’s final third returned to the slow, dramatic bent of the first and it once again lost its way as poor acting and an unrealistic resolution combined for an unsatisfactory conclusion.

So, a slow start and a poor ending, but in between a sustained period of television which proves that when Minder sticks to its comedic leanings it has much potential. This is confirmed none more so than by the performance of the show’s main man. Shane Richie’s mincing, mugging performance jars in any dramatic scenes, but give him a quip or a bit of physical comedy and the man does good. His drunken rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody ends things with a smile and that’s ultimately what I think this show is aiming for, to cheer people up with some easy-to-watch Wednesday night viewing.

While episode one was a charmless bore of a show, episode two provided enough evidence that Minder could become one of Channel Five’s big hits. I never thought I’d find myself writing that either.

Check out a review of episode 1 here.