Thursday, 23 August 2018

Hmmm ... not half bad - C4's Hang Ups

It's not often I see anything to raise even a wry smile on Channel 4.

C4's schedule is crammed with awful home-grown rubbish for thick people - such as Bake Off (nicked from the Beeb), Hollyoaks, Come Dine With Me, and endless repeats of US sitcoms.

But Hang Ups is not half bad. It's well cast and well acted.

It's about a stressed and relatively new therapist, Dr Richard Pitt (Stephen Mangan), who's trying to cover his debts by offering counselling sessions by video link to various people who are crazy in the coconuts. 

Best (i.e. most darkly entertaining) of Richard's clients is a hard man Neil Quinn (played by Steve Oram) to whom the therapist owes a lorra lorra money.

Mangan carries the show with entertaining displays of his character's stressful life, personal dysfunctionality and VERY irritating family.

This sitcom has a most whizzy pace, which is at first distracting, but ultimately adds to the dark comedic charm on offer throughout.

There are plenty of outrageous sexual references - good, and commendably British, of course! - and the best of those are delivered in a deadpan way by Richard E. Grant, who is the therapist to our therapist protagonist, played so expressively by Mangan.

It's a comedy that says something quite profound about the breakdown of social and family relationships in our contemporary, digitally obsessed society. Well, we might as well laugh - as our world is clearly heading for Hell in handcart.

Hang Ups,  which is also co-written by Mangan, is an adapted version of an US comedy TV show called Web Therapy. I haven't seen the US original, but I've heard the British version is much better - and somehow I have no difficulty in believing that.