This review contains spoilers.
1.2 Bad Mans
Hmm. The comedy/action thing didn’t quite work as well this week, did it? The second episode of The Wrong Mans picked up where the last one left off: having failed to find the owner of the fateful mobile phone, our heroes Sam and Phil were shunted into a black van by some scary-looking guys. That surprise abduction raised the stakes nicely, and led to some impressive pyrotechnics, but there wasn’t anything funny about it, and the rest of the episode didn’t really make up for it.
Maybe there just wasn’t room for any jokes. Like last time, there was quite a lot of plot packed into this episode’s thirty minutes. It turns out the heavies who abducted Sam and Phil were working for the mysterious Mr Stevens: he’s involved in some kind of dodgy dealings with the guy on the other end of the phone, and he’s not particularly happy to find that the £800k he needs to buy back his wife has gone missing. Rather than turn up at the meeting without it, he sends Sam and Phil in his place. Predictably, things don’t go well.
Despite not really knowing what’s going on, or having any kind of plan, the hapless pair somehow manage to escape with their lives – plus an accidental hostage. The way they bumble through a set of action movie clichés is sort of amusing, if you squint, but it’s not the kind of thing that’ll actually make you laugh out loud. The line about Phil’s porn stash was probably supposed to be funny, though it’s a fairly stupid joke you’ve probably heard before, and it feels super dated here (who still bothers with porn magazines in 2013? Doesn’t he have internet access?).
Then there was the embarrassing botched interrogation scene, which would’ve been cringeworthy enough even if it hadn’t been followed by that poo scene. I’d really, really like to be able to unwatch that bit, to be honest. If the idea of the show is that it presents an alternate, more mundane version of a conventional thriller plot, that scene sort of makes sense, though understanding that isn’t doing anything for my nausea. Mat Baynton looked suitably pained, but the whole thing was just a little too disgusting, a little too puerile. Bleurgh.
Let’s move on, quickly. The local government scenes were pretty good this week, though Lizzie still desperately needs to be given more of a personality. Sam’s co-worker Noel is fantastically grating, and something about him makes me wonder if we’re going to find out he’s seeing Lizzie at some point? He has to be there for a reason, and the fact that the show keeps going back to the office even when all kinds of drama is going on outside makes me think we’ll eventually get a showdown there, so maybe he’ll die, too.
We saw a few new characters introduced this time, too, including a couple of famous faces. Dawn French as Phil’s mum didn’t really get much to do, but since we were told Phil still lives at home in the first episode, it’s nice to get a quick glimpse of what that home is like. At this point, it’d be easy to really dislike Phil, so that tiny insight into what he might be like when he’s not being an idiot at work was valuable. And though Dougray Scott’s character only had a couple of scenes this week, he looks set to shake things up a bit next time – though surely I’m not the only one who dives for the remote as soon as the “Next Time” thing pops up? It’s a little bit too liberal with the spoilers. The Wrong Mans might be about as far away from a serious drama as you can get, but that doesn’t mean the BBC should ruin all of its surprises in advance. All I really want them to say about the next episode is that it’s going to be funny (and ideally poo-free). Cross your fingers for me.
Read Sarah’s review of the previous episode, The Wrong Mans, here.
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