Two episodes in and this series is already shaping up to be one of the best yet. I was happy to compare it with many great series from the past and present last week and I saw nothing in this follow-up episode to change my mind. Peep Show is, quite simply, one of the funniest and finest-written comedy series the UK has ever produced.
It never ceases to amaze me just how strong the scripts are in each and every episode and this one was another belter, delivering yet more classic lines to add to the canon. “You can’t stop someone from jamming. That’s against jam law.” “That’s not jam. That’s just total, fucking, marmalade!” “Can babies go by shredders?” “Yes, of course. Safest place for him.” Just a couple of choice examples there, but, as ever, this was full of eminently quotable dialogue.
We were also treated to the fabulous reintroduction of Dobby and Gerrard, former work colleagues of Mr Corrigan, of course, and the crux of a marvellous plotline to ground the week’s comings and goings.
Discovering that the lovely Dobby is dating a graphic designer, Simon, so begins the formation of Dobby Club. With the sole aim of winning back Dobby, Mark and Gerrard’s newly formed bond provides an opportunity to witness the pitch perfect geek acting of Jim Howick as Mark’s partner in crime. Howick is prolific on UK television – you’ll have seen him in Armstrong and Miller, Reggie Perrin and, if you’re a fan of kids’ comedy shows like I am, Horrible Histories – and he’s a vital part of the wider Peep Show cast.
Bringing out Mark’s inner geek to the fore, Gerrard represents what could have been, had Jez not have grabbed a hold on his life and, in truth, it’s not a pretty sight. When you see the pair hanging out in model shops (a clip showing how this scene was filmed can be seen over at Channel 4’s Peep Show site), you just know that this is the sort of activity Mark would dearly love to do week-in, week-out, but that the threat of castigation from Jez looms over his every action. Brilliant, then, to witness him slowly becoming at ease with himself while perusing model dolls of FDR and other historical characters, and this gave the natural payoff of the look of disdain on Jez’s face at catching them in the act.
Gerrard also offers some stiff competition for the affections of Dobby, Mark’s on-off object of lust/salvation. In forming the Dobby Club, the pair dream up a genius pact to ensure at least one of them can get the girl, but when Gerrard breaks rank, the hurt in Mark’s eyes is priceless. The subsequent stalking/stakeout Mark and Jeremy (with baby in tow) is gloriously over-the-top, and pure Corrigan. Works a treat, too, as Dobby and Mark finish the episode together again. Amazing what power a baby has over a woman – a well-worn cliché, but not without some accuracy, on the whole – and I was pleased to see that despite getting the girl, Mark’s neuroses and self-doubt were still in overdrive.
But this week wasn’t just about Mark’s exploits, of course. Jez, bless him, is still gunning for Zahra, whose boyfriend Ben is out of his coma and placed Jez under his wing as part of his web-based music promotion service. Charged with finding some new acts, Jez tried to use the chance to get himself back in Super-Hans’ group, Man Feelings. ‘I am in loco parentis. I am the last remaining contestant on the Apprentice. I am the home-trained dentist.’ That’s the standard we’re talking here, but Jez just doesn’t like to be left out of things, so, driven by jealousy, he suggests that the band changes their look and name to get ahead. Zoot suits on, Danny Dyer’s Chocolate Homunculus is born.
In a feat of genius absurdity, the scriptwriters have come up with a phrase that, by rights, should be remembered alongside some of the very best. It’s very much the kind of thing Jez would splutter when put under the kosh, and reminds of the kind of thing Alan Partridge came out with in his own pressured moments – Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank, anyone?
Naturally, it all blows up in his face, but then Jez knew as much when he himself said this is exactly what would happen earlier in the episode. Anyone who has seen Robert Webb’s new Channel 4 show, Robert’s Web will have a greater appreciation for his work in Peep Show, as he is in a different class here compared with any other work he’s undertaken.
But then, that’s true of both his and Mitchell’s work and is testament to just how good Peep Show is – it’s head and shoulders above most things on TV and without it, we wouldn’t be privy to the horrors of ‘lady milk’.