4.6 Life On Mars Bars
If, as the rumours suggest over the past few days, the episode of Not Going Out we’ve just seen is the last, then it’s hard to argue that the show has gone out on a high note. It’s also left it on the kind of cliffhanger that’s crying out to be resolved, and that’s coming from someone who usually couldn’t give two hoots about romances in sitcoms.
Yet, the friction between Lee and Lucy has built up over three series, and it was inevitable that Not Going Out would, at some point, look to address it. Only thing is, when it eventually did so, it wrapped it in a Life On Mars homage. And a very funny one at that.
Mimicking the car accident that sent Sam Tyler back to the 70s, here, Lee is sent into his personal dream. Only thing is, his personally dream veers between finally getting together with Lucy and the appearance of his father.
His dad is played once more by Bobby Ball, who appears game for anything here. From rubber-gloved doctor to standing in the corner of the room in a dress, he’s gifted some terrific comedy moments by the sharp script, and he’s one of the many highlights of a strong episode.
Sally Bretton, as Lucy, also gets her best material of the series here (and one hell of a fat suit), by turns seducing Lee and then starring in one of the most bizarre, disturbing and downright hilarious birth scenes I’ve seen. She’s on fine form, too, and it’s Mack and Bretton who carry most of the episode’s work.
There’s still, fortunately, space for Tim Vine to squeeze in some strong lines (his highlight of the series for me, though, remains the Surprise, Surprise rendition back in episode two), and Katy Wix does too. But we’re building towards the moment when, post-coma, Lee and Lucy finally come together, and inevitably, that’s when the credits roll.
It might just be a masterstroke from Mack, too. It’s no secret that the show was cancelled after series three, only to be rightly reprieved. Perhaps, in theory, the cliffhanger would make for an easier path to series five.
Here’s hoping, anyway. Because Not Going Out has been on good form this year, mixing in quick one-liners with jokes that it skilfully invests in and builds up, arriving at a very funny payoff.
Four series in, it still has a laugh-per-episode ratio that its British contemporaries simply can’t match.