This review contains spoilers.
8.3 The Love Bunker
The paintball episode is on its way to becoming a modern sitcom standard, the contemporary century answer to those ‘boss coming to dinner’, ‘two-dates-on-the-same-night’ set-ups (I hesitate to use the word trope in case for fear of accidentally getting a GCSE in Media Studies).
Since Drop the Dead Donkey’s Gus and Damien each headed up a team of GLN’s best and bravest on a paintballing weekender, we’ve seen Tim and Mike, Troy and Abed, and now, Jez and Mark, don goggles and camo-gear to enact personal rivalries on the faux-battlefield. Unlike previous takes on the premise, Peep Show didn’t use the guns and jumpsuits to offer up an action movie parody, but as a showcase for Mark’s paranoia and Jez’s latest inappropriate crush.
Going up against Spaced’s Battles and Community’s Modern Warfare – already acknowledged as classics – takes such chutzpah, you either need to be stupid, brave, or brilliant to attempt it. Luckily, Peep Show’s creators are all of the above.
When I say stupid, I mean subject to the same untrammelled weak and shameful stupidity that runs through everyone’s mind. And when I say brave, I mean that in the act of creating Mark and Jez, they’ve admitted to it. The brilliance, for anyone who’s seen the show, speaks for itself.
There was so much joy to be found in this week’s episode, not least the dug-out pairing of Mark and Super Hans (who’s mercifully finding the time to indulge his narcotic needs alongside a passion for bathroom fixtures and fittings). Hans “going Ewok” and spitting bile over yellows was a proper showcase for Matt King’s character, who remains one of UK comedy’s greatest creations.
Watching Mark’s impromptu rhyming couplets, and panicked cries of “Snow Patrol” in that excruciating round of name-that-band were equal parts painful and funny, as delicious as Hans and Jez’s libellous dismissal of just about the entire current musical scene. (Incidentally, if ‘the Ramsgate blowjob’ doesn’t turn up as a Mumford & Sons B-side in the near future, a trick has been missed).
Jez continued to wander merrily along the path of professional negligence by approaching the problems of his second life-coaching client – Simon’s friend Neil – with the prurience of Jeremy Kyle putting an arm around a sobbing, abused woman’s shoulder. His salacious interest in Neil’s sexual habits had him handing out life-changing recommendations as if they were Tic-Tacs, and proving once and for all that Jeremy Usborne, Life Coach is not fit for purpose.
It wasn’t just professional standards that were lacking. Jez shed friend points aplenty by doing his most recent worst thing ever and falling for Dobby. Getting infatuated with Mark’s girlfriend was completely in character for Jez, his ‘hos before bros’ bedpost notches now extending from Mark’s sister, to the mother of his child, to her mother, and soon, the Dob?
If there’s a sense that IT grunt, World of Warcraft-playing Dobby has been manoeuvred into position as Jez’s ideal partner for the purposes of this story arc, then no matter. When the writing’s this funny, Bain and Armstrong can take whatever liberties they like with their characters. It’s not as if Mark hasn’t acknowledged his and Dobby’s incompatibility, largely thanks to her being – as he told his dad over Christmas lunch – great, and him being – in his own words – a dick.
Dick or not, it was easy to feel for Mark this week, with his being subjected not only to trial by hat game, but also to Hans and Jez’s tenuous grasp of military history. Now Gerard’s in the ground, his sex-with-the-ex paranoia transferred to Simon (the Jeff to Dobby’s Sophie), though now we know he should be looking closer to home for the adulterous threat.
All in all, The Love Bunker was a fantastic instalment, packed with great lines and performances. And best of all, we got through the whole thing without anyone mentioning PJ and Duncan.
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