Semi-Detached is normally the type of a house, but in this case, it’s the name of a new Lee Mack sitcom, and thankfully, not one that canned ‘audience’ laughter like the largely awful Not Going Out.
2019’s pilot now gives way to a full series and, unlike some series, they’re not opening with a repeat of the pilot, which would’ve made sense to at least broadcast again, even though it’s on the iPlayer.
Recapping the pilot, since I hadn’t seen it previously, Stuart’s (Lee Mack) girlfriend, (Ellie White – House Of Fools), is pregnant and the oxytocin is making her her tell him to take his clothes off. When she tells him how the stuff could make her randy, he replies, “Yeah, but you also said you could shit yourself(!)”
Elsewhere, his Dad, Willie (Clive Russell), in the next room with his gay lover; his ex-wife, Kate (Samantha Spiro), lives across the road; her husband, Ted (Patrick Baladi), is lying naked in the back garden having cut his thumb off with a power saw, Uncle Charlie (Neil Fitzmaurice) is hiding in the bushes because the police are after him, and daughter, Madonna (Sarah Hoare), has shaved her head for her 17th birthday.
This pilot was very amusing at times, such as when Lee’s standing around sheepishly, whilst Neil has had his unfortunate nude accident in the back garden, and later, Stuart’s having to suck the man’s castrated thumb because it’s the only chance of opening his fingerprint-based Lamborghini.
The full series of Semi-Detached starts four months later in time. Stuart’s replaced his dyed beard with a bad moustache, April’s left him because Willie’s always in the buff, but he’s trying to woo her back with a pot of humous which isn’t quite what it seems. Meanwhile, Barry (Geoff McGivern) is living with Sandy (Cecilia Noble), and the teaser from pilot showed that later in the series, this leads to a polyamorous relationship.
Overall, while there’s a fairly high gag rate in this as they whip by and are fairly engaging, the first episode hasn’t not got quite as much going on as the pilot, and feels a bit sparse in comparison, but it’s still watchable, and it’s only 24 minutes in length.
And why did they name their child Bertha, in this day and age?!
Another change is that instead of going with the usual, but odd, 2.00:1 widescreen ratio for a TV show these days, the full series is almost at 2.35:1 but not quite. Why can’t TV shows just stick to 16:9? The more they try to look like films, the less they look like a TV series.
However, I will check out more in the hope it can meet the promise of the pilot.
UPDATE: Episode 2 was the best of the series so far. Stuart’s Dad’s using Grindr… which he has to explain is a straight version of Tinder… and then he has to explain what Tinder is…
Meanwhile, there was an unfortunate situation with family friend, Ron… and so much other stuff going on that it was as manic as I’d been hoping for, albeit completely daft.
UPDATE: Episode 3 was even more bizarre, albeit a bit TOO daft, as Stuart mixed his diarrhoea with various things being found in his car. And now, they’ve actually put the whole series on the iPlayer, so I’ll catch the rest shortly.
FINAL UPDATE: Now I’ve seen the rest of the series, and I never thought I’d say this about anything where Lee Mack is involved, but this is genius, and I want more!
Semi-Detached begins the full series on BBC2 tonight at 10pm. The series is available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of its released on September 21st.
After broadcast, you can also watch it on the BBC iPlayer, and the pilot is already there.
Pilot Score: 7/10
Episode 1 Score: 5/10
Episode 2 Score: 9/10
Episode 3 Score: 8/10
Episode 4 Score: 9/10
Episode 5 Score: 8/10
Episode 6 Score: 9/10
Director: Ben Palmer
Producer: Ali Marlow
Writers: David Crow, Oliver Maltman
Stuart: Lee Mack
April: Ellie White
Ted: Patrick Baladi
Charlie: Neil Fitzmaurice
Madonna: Sarah Hoare
Barry: Geoff McGivern
Willie: Clive Russell
Kate: Sam Spiro
Sandy: Cecilia Noble
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.