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Case Number 04180: Small Claims Court

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Coupling: The Complete Second Season

BBC Video // 2003 // 270 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Justice Michael Stailey // April 1st, 2004

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Coupling: The Complete First Season (published February 19th, 2003) and Coupling: The Complete Third Season (published July 12th, 2004) are also available.

The Charge

More than just a one night stand!

The Case

Thank god for the Brits! Given the current state of situation comedies on American television, it's palate-cleansing to watch a show as vibrant and enchanting as Steven Moffat's Coupling.

Now, before we move forward with this review of Series Two, let's confront the 800lb gorilla sitting in the middle of the room.

Q: Wasn't there an embarrassingly horrid American version of this show?
A: Yes, there was. It actually wound up being one of the first casualties of the Fall 2003 television season.

Q: Didn't Steven Moffat write and Executive Produce the show?
A: Yes. Steven did have creative control.

Q: What went wrong?
A: First, the setting was changed to Chicago. Second, they miscast almost every role, save Lindsay Price as Jane. All of its strengths were lost in translation and the show failed miserably.

Despite this disaster, the original British series lives on. Truth be told, the show is so wickedly clever it can stand toe-to-toe with the best of any American sitcom on record. The six episodes of Series One were so fresh and so inventive you couldn't help but want to see more. Lucky for us, Series Two is now available on DVD from BBC Video.

• "The Man with Two Legs"
"I'm not one of those amputators…in case you were worrying"—Jeff
When Jeff's latest obsession winds up sitting across from him on the morning train, his oversexed infantile brain comes up with an opening line so bizarre it leaves no possible means of escape. Meanwhile, Sally has a new boyfriend who is absolutely perfect—well, aside from all the flaws she is working to correct.
Grade: A. Another showcase for the brilliant Richard Coyle (Jeff)

• "My Dinner in Hell"
"They talk about sex like it's a completely normal thing!"—Steve
Susan invites her sexually frank parents for dinner and Steve reads a bit too much into the conversation. Jane has developed a talent to identify everyone's ideal celebrity friend, and Junior Patrick turns out to be a "male-order" best seller.
Grade: A. Jack Davenport (Steve) at his embarrassingly disarming best.

• "Her Best Friend's Bottom" (Part 1 of 2)
"As Susan's best friend, I am to you a bit like Australia"—Sally
"Australia?"—Steve
"Very distant, largely uninhabitable, and with areas of great danger."—Sally
"So you mean I can visit your Sydney, or your Melbourne, but I'm not welcome in your Bush."—Steve
When Steve accidentally walks in on Sally naked, it becomes too large an issue to keep quiet. Now it's up to Captain Subtext to save the day. Patrick experiences his first visit from The Melty Man.
Grade: B. Steve's cushion diatribe is the highlight of Series Two.

• "The Melty Man Cometh" (Part 2 of 2)
"I don't need you to think of me as a person! I have women for that!"—Sally
Sally and Patrick have finally hooked up. Yet, for the first time, Junior Patrick refuses to participate. Steve and Jeff educate Patrick on the dangers of The Melty Man, while Sally fears she has become the scourge of mankind. Could this be more than sex—and they actually have feelings for each other?
Grade: B. Ben Miles (Patrick) gets an opportunity to expand his range, as Patrick becomes a much more interesting character.

• "Jane and the Truth Snake"
"You've had threesomes? That's fantastic! Think of the advantages—all those breasts. It would be like being attacked by the giant breast octopus! Only this time your mother won't wake you up before the good bits."—Jeff
Sacked from her traffic-reporting job when she wreaks havoc with a morning meditation, Jane reevaluates her life and decides to pursue her dream of being a children's television host. Patrick has just dumped his latest girlfriend by answer phone (voice mail), when she shows up at the pub offering a threesome.
Grade: B+. The best characters are the crazy ones who see themselves as perfectly normal and everyone else as nuts. Gina Bellman (Jane) and Ben Miles each showcase brilliant monologues.

• "Gotcha"
"I could eat the waitresses."—Susan
"I'm sorry?"—Steve
"The waitresses. I could eat them up, in a big bowl, with their uniforms."—Susan
"I'll get you some bread."—Steve
"No, no, no, I could eat them all up, in a lesbian sort of way."—Susan
"Lesbians don't eat people, Susan"—Steve
A friend's wedding invitation arrives in the mail and throws the entire gang into a panic. The girls are concerned they're getting older and the guys are afraid of losing their freedom. Patrick's past comes back to haunt him, when his Volkswagen-driving ex shows up at the pub but fails to recognize him.
Grade: A. Steve and Susan unintentionally take their relationship to the next level.

• "Dressed"
"Do you think I want everyone to think I'm some mad, lonely desperate woman?"—Sally
"Of course you don't. It's just bad luck."—Patrick
Jane is on the prowl, offending everyone in her path. Yet, the universe has a unique way of balancing the scales and her comeuppance arrives in a very revealing manner. To upstage a rival colleague, Patrick plans to use Sally as a pretend wife. That is until he sees the competition.
Grade: A-. The Patrick subplot is absolutely brilliant! Ben Miles and Kate Isitt (Sally) play extremely well off each other.

• "Naked"
"I'm 30 and I still end up in the girl's toilet. What's the matter with me?"—Jeff
"I don't know. Nobody knows. Stephen Hawking doesn't know that!"—Steve
Jeff and Julia, Susan's new boss, are completely smitten with each other, but neither knows how to approach their feelings. Frighteningly, they are more alike than either of them realizes.
Grade: B+. Jeff gets a real relationship, subjected to complete humiliation, and a visit from the source of his neuroses—his mother!

• "The End of the Line"
"Where are you going?"—Susan
"It's up to you."—Steve
When Steve and Susan engage in some innocent, independent flirting, it triggers a chain reaction that throws the universe into chaos and puts the gang on a collision course with a French dominatrix and an Australian pub owner.
Grade: A+. How do two people tell if their love is the real thing?

Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, BBC Video packages Series Two with the same high standards set by the first series release. The image quality superbly captures the beautifully designed and decorated sets. In addition to the boys' home base pub, Susan and Jeff's office, and Steve and Susan's flats, we are also welcomed into Patrick's lothario love pad and Sally's salon, which has become the girls' primary gathering place. The colors, textures, and lighting used on each are quite impressive for series television. The Dolby 2.0 stereo track captures even the subtle nuances of Moffat's sharp dialogue and injects a welcome amount of original scoring by the talented Simon Brint. A great deal of credit is also due director Martin Dennis, whose wisdom and guiding hand behind the camera rivals that of the great James Burrows.

BBC has taken a step forward with the bonus materials on Series Two. All but the first two episodes include commentary tracks, each featuring series creator Steven Moffat and a rotating ensemble of cast members including Sarah Alexander (Susan), Kate Isitt (Sally), Ben Miles (Patrick), Gina Bellman (Jane), as well as producer Sue Vertue (Steven's wife). Relaxed, engaging, and informative, each track is like sitting down to drinks with old friends. The commentaries were recorded after wrapping production on Series Three and Steven makes several references to plot developments underway for Series Four. Also included are one-on-one interviews with Steven (21 minutes), executive producer and mother-in-law Beryl Vertue (7 minutes), and Jack Davenport (7 minutes), as well as cast bios and studio trailers.

Coupling is, without question, one of the finest comedies in television history. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor, turn off the dreck on primetime TV, run out and buy both discs, and prepare to laugh your arse off. This court is adjourned!

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 95

Perp Profile

Studio: BBC Video
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 270 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Foreign
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Episode Commentaries
• Interview: Steven Moffat
• Interview: Beryl Vertue
• Interview: Jack Davenport
• Cast Bios
• Studio Trailers








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