Because I review a whole tv series rather than individual episodes, there is a chance of spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the whole series yet, stop reading now!
Some shows are around for so long that they can get by purely on fan connection and nostalgia. The fact that it is a chance to see characters you are familiar with and have watched for many years, in new and hopefully funny episodes, will keep the ratings and interest high. Some shows can pull off a huge amount of episodes and seasons, American sitcom Friends probably being the best example, followed closely by The Simpsons. I’m not sure the same can be said for Peep Show though.
Peep Show was always one of the most innovative, unique and funniest sitcoms on television. The idea that you are in the heads and viewing the show through the eyes of the two main characters made for a different and brilliant style of sitcom that managed to distinguish it from the many other shows on tv. Casting David Mitchell and Robert Webb made the show even better, the two of them creating characters that could imagine being reluctant friends, while at the same time hating and bickering with each other.
Previous seasons have been amazing. Some episodes have had awesome moments and an incredible series of events that made for classic comedy. From Jeremy eating a dog to Mark being caught on a doorless toilet by his ultra-intense boss; the situations and the events that built to them were well written and alongside some of the best comedy in Britain.
Season 8 never ever reached that height though. The show doesn’t feel as innovative, almost becoming too familiar and not really using the format as creatively as it used too. The situations they have got themselves in don’t even feel that funny or extreme. Peep Show could build a whole episode to an embarrassing and excruciating climax that acted as a fantastic pay-off to the shows events. No season 8 episode ever reached that, although it did try.
One example is Mark’s date with a businesswoman who was ditched by her husband. The episode was always going to end with Mark ditching her in the same way but the episode failed to make this necessary or relevant, which means it wasn’t actually funny. The main thread through the whole season even felt familiar. Jeremy and Mark falling in love with the same girl may not have happened as openly and obviously in the past, but certainly very similar things have happened. Season 8 wasn’t doing anything new or hugely funny.
It’s still very watchable though and will certainly get a season 9. This is because of the elements that shouldn’t change and what the audience is familiar with. You keep watching because we have been watching Mark and Jeremy and their development as characters, since 2003. We’ve seen a couple of weddings, kids, jobs and many, many girlfriends. These are characters that we’ve invested time in and want to keep checking on to see how they are doing.
That familiarity presents itself with other characters too. It’s great to see Super Hans, still going strong and becoming one of the funniest characters in the show. Johnson, Mark’s manic boss, makes a brief and slightly disappointing return but it’s actually Andy, the crazy handyman from one of the shows funniest, earlier episodes, that is the best, past character to return. His interactions with Jeremy and Mark never fail to be funny and his story is one of the best of the whole season.
The only character who fails to return, disappointingly, is Olivia Coleman’s Sophie. This is understandable seeing as she is becoming a huge star in her own right, starring in numerous, brilliant films and tv shows. It’s just as a pivotal part of Mark and Jeremy’s life, and an original character of the show, it would be nice for even a brief, funny cameo.
Overall, Peep Show’s eighth season was more disappointing than classic. It was never as funny or innovative, the characters don’t feel like they are doing anything new and the stories seem to be treading familiar ground as well. Some of the returning characters are great and Mark and Jeremy never struggle to deliver great lines and a decent laugh but Peep Show feels like its beginning to lose its charm.
Best Episode – Business Secrets of the Pharaohs: It was difficult to pick a great episode because none really stand out. This one is marginally funnier than the others, with Mark clearly making a publishing mistake and Jeremy actually being the “clever” one.
Best performance – Robert Webb as Jeremy
Should there be another season? – I do want to see more of Peep Show because I’m a big fan but I have to admit that it’s clearly past its best.
Season Rating – 3
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)