Judge Jason Panella is finally learning his pronouns.
A comedy about love…and in-laws.
One of the things I've always appreciated about British television is how compact the seasons are. You get a handful of episodes with little waste. I love that this model is catching on in the US—some of the prestige cable shows have been doing this for years, certainly, but even the major networks are finally realizing that padding out every show with 20-some episodes often results in a lot of fluff. Of course, there are British shows like You, Me & Them, which could have benefited from a few more episodes. By the time the comedy gets into stride, it's all wrapped up.
Lauren (Eve Myles, Torchwood) and Ed (Anthony Head, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) are madly in love, and Ed is ready for the next step in their relationship: meeting Lauren's family. But Ed is old enough to be Lauren's father, and the 27-year age gap between the couple proves to be a challenge. Lauren's uptight parents (Jeff Rawle Doc Martin, and Susie Blake Coronation Street) treat Ed like a cradle robber, and her sister Debs (Daisy Beaumont, The World Is Not Enough) thinks Lauren is delusional. But then there's Ed's family, who he can't seem to avoid—his sad-sack brother Alan (Nigel Betts, Midsomer Murders), his unbelievably inept grandson (Joshua McGuire, About Time), and his insane ex-wife (Lindsay Duncan, Rome), who is convinced she's going to win Ed back.
You, Me & Them gets a lot of mileage out of the typical dysfunctional family tropes from the get-go. I was surprised, though, at how quickly the show establishes Ed's and Lauren's families as pretty normal. They're ridiculous, of course, but after a few episodes the relatives become a lot more than a collection of in-law jokes—they feel like real people. Alan, for instance, is the butt of a bunch of fat and single jokes early on, but shifts into a much more complex character while still retaining his status as hapless, schlubby brother. And much like Community, You, Me & Them really starts clicking when show creator Steve Turner (Great Night Out) realizes that some characters work better when paired up together. For instance, Ed's grandson Tim—who takes immediate interest in Lauren's niece Elie (Alice Felgate)—is golden when he cluelessly butts heads with Debs. The best pairing, though, is Alan with Deb's dorky husband Keith (Marcus Garvey, Broadchurch)—the two men are completely oblivious to their faults, and comedy magic happens when the two pal around.
The odd character out in all of this is Lydia, Ed's ex-wife. Her stalker-like behavior gets a few good laughs, and Lindsay Duncan really plays the role with wild abandon. It's just that Lydia feels extraneous, and more often than not her presence is absolutely grating. But like Turner figuring out which characters work best together, he also seemed to realize how to use Lydia (in small doses) by the last episode. Turner also refines the humor over the six episodes—the pilot episode almost has a shotgun approach to its jokes, using everything from absurdity and slap-stick to linguistic puns. A lot of the material lands, but just as much doesn't. This tightens up in short order, thankfully; some characters work better with different approaches to humor, and they get matched up. These few tweaks turn a pretty funny show into a very funny one—good signs for the second season.
Acorn Media's two-disc set of You, Me & Them: Series 1 includes all six of the show's 30-minute episodes. Nothing really stood out about the standard def 1.78:1 widescreen transfer, and the Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track is equally nondescript. The set comes with three extras, all short yet enjoyable: a blooper reel (5:04), cast interviews (2:41), and ÃČEmma and Clive's House,Ã® a novel in-character tour of Lauren's parents' home (4:05).
You, Me & Them is light, enjoyable, and maybe just a tad too short. I recommend it, even if your in-laws aren't crazy.
Give us your feedback!
Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
Review content copyright © 2014 Jason Panella; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.