Television Revision: Gavin & Stacey – Season 2

Television Revision: Gavin & Stacey – Season 2. Starring Mathew Horne, Joanna Page, and James Corden. Rated M. By Andrew Williams.

Television Revision is a weekly feature in which our tuned in TV critic trawls through the best the box has to offer, giving you a primer on some of history’s finest shows (and warning you away from the specific episodes – or even seasons! – that might have ruined their reputation).

Now, this is a story all about how… Gavin (Mathew Horne) and Stacey (Joanna Page) have fallen in love, dated briefly, and married each other. They now live in England with Gavin’s parent, but Stacey misses her Welsh home. Meanwhile, their respective best friends Smithy (James Corden) and Nessa (Ruth Jones) are about to work through a very different kind of relationship.

Happy days? It’s happened to many over the years – Will, Grace, Jack Shepherd, Dawson (of Creek fame) – and sadly Gavin & Stacey’s second season sees the titular characters join the ranks of leads who also happen to be the least entertaining part of their show. The problem stems from the fact that the main arc of the primary lovebirds came to a natural conclusion in Season One. Writers Corden and Jones need to give them somewhere to go, but the conflict introduced is so forced and unnecessary it proves a weight around the season’s neck. I like these characters and I want to watch them face the outside world together. I do not want to watch them bicker incessantly.

Luckily, everything else on Gavin & Stacey is terrific. Smithy and Nessa are always welcome (though Nessa is another catchphrase away from the Catherine Tate/Little Britain zone) but Uncle Bryn, Gwen, Pam, Michael et al are what makes this show such an unmitigated delight. The writing is sharp, the episodes are neatly plotted, and the acting and comedic timing is second-to-none.

The final frontier: Another consistent season in every area bar the lead characters, Gavin & Stacey never reaches full-scale hilarity but seven episodes have rarely gone down as sweetly. A treat.

Top 3 Episodes: 1) The Meal: Classic sitcom writing; one main location and great use of the entire ensemble. 5) The Decision: Another Rob Brydon tour de force. 7) The Time To Sort Things Out: When Gavin & Stacey goes for the heart, as it does here, it usually hits home.

Worst Episode: 6) The Lonely Couple: In which Gavin & Stacey’s ceaseless squabbling, splitting, and reuniting finally becomes totally insufferable. These two make Ross & Rachel look like The Huxtables in the commitment and communication stakes.

Season MVP: There’s a temptation to let Rob Brydon go two-for-two, but let’s share the love and anoint Alison Steadman. Pam is the best kind of sitcom parent; totally original, but still with that crucial element of familiarity. It’s hard not to see a little of our own mothers in Pam.

Gavin & Stacey – Season 2 is now available on DVD. It can also be streamed instantly on Quickflix PLAY.

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