In other words, this is middle-class sit-com with sex and mild swear-words. Gosh! It took the trenchant Drop the Dead Donkey to show what really happened after office parties (you wake up with your face in a curry at a railway station).
Steven Moffat’s Joking Apart hardly aspires to the standards of the divine DTDD, but as an analysis of modern divorce it’s quite funny and acute so far. Robert Bathurst and Fiona Gillies are much too pretty and clean to be entirely true to life, but maybe separation will roughen them up.
And it contains invaluable advice to dunderheads. Start suspecting something’s wrong if the wife/husband begins to move items of furniture out of the marital home. She/he’s nesting elsewhere.
I know someone who only realised that all was not well with his marriage when his wife tried to move him out of the marital home.
Last night’s episode had a good sequence: a dinner party with a couple of Becky’s staid friends, the sort of people who say things like ‘there’s never enough cupboard space’. Mark’s cruelty towards them was devastating and funny.
But the show has a huge casting problem. Robert Bathurst, as Mark, is a conventionally handsome actor, but not one who can successfully convey the frustration of being a creative writer; he looks too blank for that. The exquisite Fiona Gillies, on the other hand, hits just the right note as the understandably impatient Becky.
Writer Steven Moffat could make Joking Apart a halfway decent comedy as long as he keeps the humour and the situations acerbic; a cosy little situation comedy about a divorced couple who are still (nudge-nudge) crazy about each other is something we could all live without.
Webmaster's comment: I can't help but feel that the reviewer's criticism of Robert Bathurst is both rather hasty and less than generous. Steven Moffat, the writer of the series, was instrumental in the casting of Robert, and if anyone should be able to judge whether or not an actor is able to convey a writer's sense of frustration, it's Steven. Besides, the series was never about the pain of writing; it was about the pain of divorce, which Robert carries off brilliantly.