Sometimes a slap can be good if correctly administered, so sayeth Jim Field Smith, director and producer of new comedy series The Wrong Mans.
This was in response to a tweet from me telling him that the first episode, which I saw last night, was like a 'slap in the face'. Now, you might think that's a bad thing, but Mr. Smith is actually correct, in this instance.
The Wrong Mans, new in BBC2, stars Matthew Baynton as Sam and the wonderful James Corden as Phil, ordinary people - well, sort of - who get roped into dark shenanigans (a word I don't think I've ever used before) - when Sam witnesses a car crash on the way to work and picks up a ringing mobile phone which we assume is thrown from the car on impact. When he answers it, a voice threatens to kill his (the owner of the phone) wife if he's not 'there' at 5 o'clock.
Baynton's character is a wimp. His ex-girlfriend is his boss and the guy sitting across from him at work is his pain-in-the-backside. James Corden's character is the one in many offices who makes woeful attempts to arrange group activities, such as go-karting, but which nobody want to attend. Bless him. He would do your head in, but bless him. It has a British feel – no gloss, (almost) ordinary people, silliness and a touch of slapstick. They’re not Friends (one of my favourite comedies), nor are they Will or Grace or Charlie Harper. They’re you and me, though we’d perhaps hope they weren’t.
What ensues is, basically, brilliant. The amputation scene was so funny and you seriously want to give Sam a kick up the backside he already has a pain in!
So, why the slap in the face?
I hadn't heard about this show. Corden is great in most things he does, whether it's Gavin and Stacey or his sports-based panel show. The fact that he also co-wrote The Wrong Mans (along with the mighty Matthew Baynton) only adds to its appeal. The majority of TV I've seen recently (I'm working ten hour days, seven days a week at the moment) is a combination of Bates Motel, my wife's Coronation Street and X-Factor, and that's mostly recorded. As such I haven't had the chance to see any trailers for upcoming shows, apart from Sleepy Hollow and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., both of which I'm looking forward to.
My wife happened to be looking through the weekly TV magazine at the weekend and saw this. As she's a huge James Corden fan she was going to be interested anyway, but she thought I'd like it too. It was on last night and I sat down with her. She already had the show cued up, ready to go. I asked what it was and she told me the name and that it starred James Corden. Good enough for me.
I have to say, I loved it from the start. It surprised me and made me laugh in equal measure. I was overjoyed when Jim Field Smith responded to my tweet saying I loved it - and understood my 'slap in the face' comment.
I wasn't expecting the show. I didn't know about it or have any idea of the plot. It might have been rubbish.
So, it was a comedic slap in the face. A shock. A surprise. But, in a good way. In the way that I was gutted I had to wait another week for the second episode.
My wife certainly knows me. Corden, Baynton and Smith certainly know comedy.