Roger and Val Have Just Got In breaks the sit-com mould completely, but re-establishes the BBC’s credentials in the genre. Following the dull lives of a middle class, middle age couple, nothing much happens, but it’s a brilliant return to the sitcom heritage that the Beeb used to be renowned for.
The couple in question are Val, played by Dawn French, and Roger, randomly played by Alfred Molina of Dr Octopus fame, who is a surprise comedy genius. The sit-com follows Val and Roger’s first half hour back from work, and in the first episode the plot revolves around their search for the broken Hoover’s guarantee. Simple… boring… Sort of funny.
While there are elements of the wince inducing awkward moments that made The Office so funny, it is not necessarily all about laughing at the character’s foibles, but a more complex look at everyday lives in which nothing much happens. Like a celebration of the ordinary.
There are also elements of the “power to the people” support for the proletariat in Citizen Smith, although it’s on a much less dramatic scale. In fact, Roger is probably the limpest revolutionary firebrand ever seen on TV, but then that’s a big part of his charm.
Roger and Val Have Just Got In may never be side splitting, but it’s definitely filled with some funny moments that are very different from anything else on TV. There’s also the feeling that it could all turn very dark if real drama ever did pierce their lives. It also acts as a pretty stark warning of what life could be like if you let it, but also a sweet affirmation of the legitimacy of not doing much at all. As well as the understated comedy, there is an undercurrent of sadness that makes the show all the more endearing.
Roger and Val Have Just Got In review: 4/5
Related news and reviews: