Last week I was far from complimentary about the opening episode of Sky Living’s first home-grown comedy, Gates, so therefore I began watching last night’s instalment with some trepidation.
SLAPSTICK & SUE
Just like last week, it started off with some good visual jokes, mainly depicting mothers talking to each other while something went on around them they were quite unaware of. Also, similar to last week, I was immediately endeared to Sue Johnston’s Miss Hunter – she plays the character so well and strangely believably. You get the impression that Miss Hunter is the calm one among the frantic staff and pupils, whilst also not hiding the fact that she regularly gets sick of her job (mainly because she’s hungover). Would slapstick and Sue manage to see Gates through, though?
This week’s main focus was the ongoing dispute between Helen (Joanna Page) and Sarah (Catherine Shepherd), which originated with the latter criticising the former’s parenting. The argument certainly teetered on the absurd but it just about kept away: the situation itself was believable – mothers argue about their kids in the playground all of the time – and the writers just about got away with the scene (if they’d added any more, I think I would have been criticising it rather than praising it).
This disagreement lingered, and came to a head in what was my favourite bit of not only this episode but both of those which we have seen: the Zumba class. This scene caused me to raise my first smile of the entire episode, when Mia (Ella Kenion) began dancing by way of demonstration. It was just very funny and the fact that Kenion has shed so much weight since her The Green Green Grass days added to the humour. However, my first laugh not only of this second episode but also the whole series yet was Helen and Sarah’s fight after she ‘accidentally’ punched Helen in the face while stretching. Yes, it was slapstick and real mothers would probably have more dignity but I didn’t care: it wasn’t as ridiculous as what we’d seen Helen do and heard her say in the first episode so I was prepared to let it go. Plus – and most importantly – it was funny!
Yes, the absurdity was mainly – and thankfully – cut out of this second episode. I think in the first one, the writers were being a bit experimental, trying to decide whether Gates is here to depict real-life or surreality. Granted, there still isn’t much funny in this ‘comedy’ but if it carries on this way, I feel it could grow on me. This week was certainly an improvement – let’s just hope next week Gates doesn’t revert back to its old ways…
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