This review contains spoilers.
8.5 Chairman Mark
After a handy restatement of this series’ plot arc in the opening few minutes (Jez loves Dobby; Mark’s attempts to get her to move in are being foiled at every turn), Chairman Mark quickly became what’s known in technical circles as a bit of a corker.
Mark lost his job and Jeremy – briefly – moved out, but as ever with Peep Show, the big stuff was incidental next to the characters’ humdrum victories and defeats. The next time you put a t-shirt on a coat hanger or very slowly ease open a bottle of Cava, think of Jez and Mark, brothers in banality.
Mark proved, once again, that not only is he not an honourable man, he’s a petty, desperate, selfish, and brilliantly awful one. (We always knew Peep Show was smart, but this week’s nod to Shakespearean irony when Mark Corrigan channelled Mark Anthony and used the phrase “an honourable man” to describe a complete Brutus was nothing short of swotty).
Having misjudged last week’s cat adoption, Mark was in need of a new Dobby trap, so opted to abuse his new-found power as chairman of the freehold committee and blow the sinking fund on his mouldy wall. In the continuum of bad things Mark’ has done, it’s no almost-jilting or desk-drawer urination, but it was a pretty low blow.
Speaking of lowness, Jez surely reached his nadir inside Big Mad Andy’s landfill bin-bag, proving himself to be as helpless as a new-born mouse pup without Mark. Forced to dance like an inflatable mascot on a car forecourt for Mark’s nephew and be the punching bag of his angry divorcee sister, the Corrigans have helped and humiliated poor Jez – a man who has measured out his life not in coffee spoons but in limited edition Tango cans and old-school pornography – in equal measure.
Welcome back to Sarah Corrigan (Eliza Bennett), incidentally, whom we last saw being rebuffed by Jez in last series’ wonderful Christmas Day episode. Her “Did Mummy do well? Yes Mummy did very well. Do you like the man Mummy got us? He’s funny isn’t he? Yes he’s very funny” monologue to son Joshie was terrific stuff.
Another welcome is in order for this week’s lead writer, Fresh Meat and The Armstrong & Miller Show’s Tom Basden, who didn’t fumble the ball. Chairman Mark had plenty of great lines (“as wet as an eagle”, the celeb triumvirate of Jools Holland, Mark Ronson and Werner Herzog, that wry dig at The Killing…), as well as satifying continuity with previous episodes. Not everybody loves bees, Mark.
The series three reference in the title of the next episode – Quantocking II – may not deter accusations that the current run of Peep Show is re-treading old ground, but really, when the ground’s this much fun, it can stand a re-treading or two.