As you may, or may not, remember (depending on what you think of my writing), the last review I wrote was on BBC 4’s ‘Detectorists’ a comedy I for one really appreciated. In my review I made mention of another new BBC 4 comedy called ‘Puppy Love’ and, while I have a bit of time to kill (when I should be revising the inner most workings of Mitochondria sounds fascinating doesn’t it), I thought I would write down what I thought.
I started to watch this series with a fairly high amount of optimism, which, if you know me, is a rare thing. However, now the series is finished I would like to tell you what I really think. Set on the Wirral, the series follows ‘Naomi Singh’ played by Vicki Pepperdine (on the right of the picture) as she deals with her new purchase, a Golden Retriever puppy called ‘Charlie’, and ‘Nana V’ portrayed by Joanna Scanlan (On the left of the picture), an eccentric dog trainer who ‘grew up in children’s homes so dogs are my life’.
Now the preamble is done I will get straight done to it. I desperately wanted to like this series, but I couldn’t. The premise is a can of comedy gold because, in all honesty, who doesn’t know a person that’s struggled with a dog? Pepperdine and Scanlan attempt to use this to their advantage, and to be fair there are a few funny moments (mainly in episode 1), such as the Hurtlocker-esque beginning and a few well-executed double takes from Pepperdine. Despite this, it was a rarity for me to laugh at all during the following episodes, and I can’t really put my finger on why. I wasn’t a big fan of any of the characters, and for me to find a sitcom funny I usually have to be able to relate to what I’m watching. I just couldn’t connect with these characters at all. Spoiler alert; almost everything that can go wrong for Pepperdine’s character does go wrong, but the character is such a bumbling moronic busy body (bit of an oxymoron, but that is my opinion) that I can’t sympathise with her. Therefore, as a result, I can’t laugh with her or at her due to irritation.
I found that the episodes were over reliant on weight jokes, whether they be spoken or visual, as Joanna Scanlan regularly removes various items of clothing. As a result of this, I found that the script lacked an edge, and that it was becoming too obsessed with laughs about the overweight woman in her bra rather than proper, witty humour. I also found that Nana V’s constant sexual fantasies about a new man every episode became incredibly tiresome (I know how old that makes me sound but it is true). The ending is also very moralistic (didn’t think that was a word until I typed it into word) and can be seen a mile off. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s just something I thought I would mention.
Perhaps the issue is that, in being released so close to ‘Detectorists’, I am making an unfair comparison. If BBC 4 had released one of the two programmes next year they might be sitting on two positive reviews. ‘Detectorists’ would definitely still be on top, but giving a time gap would enable me to appreciate ‘Puppy Love’ a bit more.
I am aware that I have given the series a bit of a battering, and I do feel a bit bad. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Puppy Love’ is no ‘Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps’, but it does come up short compared to ‘Detectorists’. If BBC 4 is going to keep commissioning comedies (and I really want them to), I think the channel will have to step up their game.
After reading a few other reviews of the series, I can confidently tell you that I am in the minority of not being overly keen on this comic effort from Scanlan and Pepperdine. If you agree, disagree, or just want to have a shout at me for being such a cynical old git, please post a comment below.