DVDs in Review #85: Lead Balloon: Series Two

Category: , , , , , By Rev/Views

Rick Spleen is back and continuing to go down like a lead balloon. I reviewed the first series earlier this year and concluded that while the show was in essence a low rent British Curb Your Enthusiasm, it also had many features which made it worthy in it's own right.

The second series gives us another eight episodes of Rick's life; an almost endless torrent of mistakes, petty acts, misery and at times stupidity from a man who is his own worst enemy. Jack Dee remains wonderfully on form as Rick, mostly because he's playing a character who is close in style to his stand up. That might sound a little derogatory, but it's not, sticking to your strengths when you come from a non-acting background is a wise move and it pays off here. He's a beautifully pathetic, petty, whinging piece of work who is just delightful to watch on screen; especially during his (inevitable) comeuppance.

Sean Power remains sterling as Rick's long suffering writing partner Marty, providing a mix of wry comments and "I told you so"'s to add insult to Rick's (self inflicted) injuries. Likewise Tony Gardner is just superb as the oddball cafe owner Michael, and it's these three who propel many of the more interesting events. Sam (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) and Ben (Rasmus Hardiker) remain the same one note joke as before, which I'm sure is funny for some - myself I found them tiresome from the start, but fortunately they're not on screen for too long if you don't enjoy their uming, ahing and mooching off Rick.

Magda (Anna Crilly) remains the series' best low-key joke with her morose performance, tendency to wear green (which really doesn't suit her), "generic" eastern European background and love of potatoes. But for myself it's the lovely Raquel Cassidy as Mel who lights up the screen the most, providing the voice of reason as well as the long suffering partner, she's just as fantastic here as she is in Moving Wallpaper. She's fast becoming a favourite comic actor of mine, especially if she keeps up the level of quality in her performances.

Over the second series Rick struggles with his inability to send e-mails correctly, Magda quitting after an off-hand comment, his comedy causing the collapse of a pharmaceutical giant, points on his driving license, Marty leaving for bigger and brighter things and many, many other things (often self inflicted) which drive him to higher and higher plateaus of misery.

It's a fun and enjoyable piece of exceptionally British humour, the phrase 'it brings a little ray of sunshine into your life' might not be accurate. But it does leave you feeling better, because it reminds you that out there, somewhere, there's almost certainly someone more miserable than you. Someone who's so quintessentially British that all they do is sit about, moan and make their own life more miserable. And if not being that person doesn't cheer you up, maybe complaing about my use of a double negative will instead.

Commentary for three episodes: Hero, Rita and Idiot
Interview with Jack Dee
Deleted Scenes

Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Soundtrack: English
Rating: 15
Region: 2 + 4 PAL
Subtitles: English HOH
Run time: 231 mins


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