Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

Friday Night Dinner

27 February 2011 by Nicholas in TV

Friday Night Dinner is a new sitcom on Channel 4 starring Simon Bird of the Inbetweeners (in fairness, as part of a fairly evenly spotlighted cast) as part of a family which gets together to have a meal once a week. The family consists of two brothers who have both grown and left the home, their mother and father and also featured their distinctly strange neighbour.

The plot was fairly rudimentary: the boys show up for a meal, bicker, their dad is cleaning out the stuff he has stored in the garage, they play practical jokes on one another, someone comes round to collect the sofa bed that the dad is getting rid of and the next door neighbour keeps popping round to use the loo.

This is not to say the plot is bad or annoying, but it exists as a platform for jokes, which is what a good sitcom should do. The jokes themselves are mainly funny, and none are really annoying or embarrassing (in the bad way). There probably aren’t enough jokes, but certainly is funny rather than not and is definitely something I will watch again. There are some jokes that are set up in the show, and they are mainly fairly organic. Only one of them seems particularly telegraphed and still works when it finally pays off.

The characters themselves are fairly interesting, with the younger duo seemingly more rounded. This could be because I empathise with them more but they certainly seem to have fewer eccentricities and seem to be victims of the foibles of their parents rather than afflicting their character defects on them. This works nicely as they become our point of view characters and the unfolding strangeness and comic moments around them make them straight men, in effect. The family life, while no doubt exaggerated, does ring true and there is a strong undercurrent of familiarity in the setting rather than the jokes.

Overall I would say that it is a welcome distraction and definitely among the better sitcoms of the past few years. The only real problem is that it will doubtless be compared to The Inbetweeners and will fall short.