Archives for posts with tag: Robert Bathurst

On a recent episode of 8 Out of 10 Cats does Countdown Jimmy Carr made a barb at Fay Ripley, describing Cold Feet as the UK’s answer to Friends if the question was ‘What’s not quite as good as Friends?’ Ripley jumped to the show’s defence, pointing out that at least her show was still going. This does, however, ignore the massive gap between the original series ending and the comeback last year.

Even so, it does seem silly to compare the two shows, longevity aside. Friends was always a sitcom, Cold Feet a comedy-drama, and one of the rare ones that could pull off both at that. Yes, there were six people navigating relationships and careers in both with a significant ‘will they/won’t they’ dynamic’, but that’s where it ends.

I find Cold Feet to be one of the best-plotted shows on TV. It’s a tricky thing giving five (R.I.P. Rachel) central characters enough room for each story to breathe whilst still maintaining a group dynamic and allowing side characters to have their moments. The cleverly demarcated flashback scenes, where some of the group tell the rest what happened whilst we are shown it, is used just the right amount and with both humorous and dramatic effect. Jen and Pete’s sex tape scene was brilliantly comedic and tellingly honest about the gap between expectation and reality in our approach to sex.

I must admit to being nervous when they introduced the teenage pregnancy storyline where Karen and David’s daughter became pregnant by Adam’s son. This is a plot that has been done far too much in soaps and the like and you would struggle to find an original angle. Yet it did. The discussions around abortion were mature and focused on Olivia’s wish to have control over her body and Matt’s naïve belief he could rise to the challenge of fatherhood at just 16. The scene at the clinic was perfection and a lesson in understatement, a young girl facing the reality of her choices an everyone all so quiet and hushed, the fragility of the moment encapsulated merely in a tone of voice.

In truth, all the plots are absorbing. Jen facing the dilemma of reaching the peak of her career just as an ailing parent needs her most. David playing the night in shining armour to trapped Cheshire housewife. Karen risking everything to save her business. And, of course, Adam’s bumpy relationship with new squeeze Tina. I feel a bit sorry for Tina, as much in the centre of things as anyone yet still not given central cast status. Either let her be one of the gang or cut her loose. Otherwise she just becomes a side character who the viewers will never fully accept.

Cold Feet is a brilliant examination of life in your late forties and early fifties and is both funny and honest. Friends may never come back and tell us what happened next, but it doesn’t need to. Cold Feet is doing it better than anyone ever could.

Advertisements

Nostalgia is the theme de jour in TV at the moment. The BBC has had a season of remakes, lost episodes and prequels of its classic sitcoms, with varying degrees of success. Personally, I would have preferred to have seen them invest more in some of the pilots of new sitcoms they were showing on BBC2 – Motherland in particular has legs. Even the all-so-modern Netflix is in on the act, relaunching The Gilmore Girls. None of this is necessarily a problem, but surely the point of a platform like Netflix is to make daring programming that mainstream channels just can’t afford to take a risk on.

ITV’s nostalgia moment is in the return of Cold Feet. I have only hazy memories of the original series, but I was only 11-14 at the time and a lot of vodka has been drank since then. Still, I gave the new series a whirl. Or rather, my mother had it on so I sat down to watch as well.

Actually, it is rather good. The plot is, at times, a reheat of those from decades ago. Will this marriage crumble? Will those ex-partners get back together again? But what has been updated is the reasons. Jenny and Pete are on the brink not because of his fecklessness but his depression. This has been a very well-handled topic on the show. Pete has the dual pressure of a widening gulf between his and his friends’ lifestyles coupled with the ever-marching passage of time.

Meanwhile, Adam has married a woman several decades younger than him but his now caught in a conflict between supporting his emotionally lost son and glamourous wife. It’s clearly the two are ill-suited. It is also very obvious that Adam’s landlady is a much better match for him, down-to-earth and sparky. Of course, this won’t truly dawn on him for a few episodes yet and will no doubt present conflicts in the group of its own.

What hasn’t changed is the spark between the cast. Dramas like this sink or swim depending on whether the different strands come together to form a whole that is at least equal to, if not greater than, the sum of its parts.

Would have been great if ITV had found something similar but that was new? Absolutely, as TV can only survive off old hits remade for so long. But, for now, it is a pleasure to see that the show isn’t tarnishing its reputation. In fact, in allowing the clouds and sunlight to balance out perfectly, it might even enhance it.