More ‘Mount’ Than ‘Pleasant’

Popular with couples, but suitable for everyone, one of Sky’s biggest home-grown comedy-dramas Mount Pleasant is currently about half-way through its well-deserved second series. I’m finding it very hard to see it as a match for the first, however.

THIS CHARMING MOUNT?

The problem with this series is that it doesn’t have the same charm as its predecessor. When I watched Mount Pleasant for the first time on Sky1 last year, I immediately fell in love with everything about it: I worked out the individual characters’ ways, what makes them tick, and what they think of each other. I recognised the place Mount Pleasant straight-away, too, and I really wanted (even want!) to live there. Each character had a little subplot, each gripping with brilliant glimpses of hilarity. Lisa and Dan continued with their bickering but undying love for each other – their lives punctuated (or should that be hindered?) by neighbours, friends and family; Barry and Sue had their ice-skating and daughter to keep them occupied; Shelley and Greg’s turbulent marriage – owing to the latter’s intense gambling addiction – was so well written and performed I couldn’t believe it! Then we had Denise’s affair with Fergus, Kate’s dangerous infatuation with Dan and Bianca’s general tartiness, and so much more. I would say it was not just my favourite comedy of 2011, nor my favourite drama, I would go as far as to say that it was my favourite program of the year.

The reason I still hold the first series on such a pedestal is purely down to the creator and writer, Sarah Hooper. Where did she come from? I had never heard her name prior to her bursting onto the scene with this fantastic series! This time around, however, it’s different. Oh so different.

SUPER HOOPER

The difference is that most of this series – tragically – hasn’t been written by Hooper. Instead, she has passed the baton to Mark Brotherhood: a writer whose previous credits include a couple of Hollyoaks episodes, one Shameless and a few kids’ TV shows. I really don’t want to condemn Brotherhood too much but I wish he hadn’t taken on something so special as Mount Pleasant. I don’t know how much input Sarah Hooper has had when it comes to the episodes he has written, but I’m guessing not much. It’s just not as good as it was any more. I’m sorry but that’s how I feel.

After all, Hooper created these characters: she knows them inside-out, so why hand them over to someone else to write about? I don’t believe it would have been that much of a struggle for her to write the entire series herself, and it may have resulted in her chances of being recommissioned for a third series increasing.

Whereas there was a good, healthy balance of comedy and drama in the first series, the second seems to be 90% drama and 10% comedy – if that! Admittedly, when the show is funny, it’s funny but there simply isn’t enough of it – the laughs are few and far between, something which I am quite sure I would never have said of the first run. The weaker storylines are being exposed and dragged-out, whereas the potentially bigger ones are being shunned. For example, Dan and Shelley’s jealousy about Lisa’s relationship with her new friend Kim isn’t very strong but is being focused on a lot. Denise’s baby, on the other hand, is absolutely brimming with potential! All we seem to see of Denise is her sitting in her seat at work, being shocked when Fergus walks in, and then at the end of the show putting the baby down for the night. Is she struggling as a mother? How does she really feel about Fergus? We don’t know and we should! Denise is such a great character: she’s dizzy and fragile, yet quite strong-minded so to really see her apply these characteristics to motherhood would be very entertaining! Mark Brotherhood has omitted to include this in his scripts, however.

NO BLESSING IN DISGUISE

Perhaps it was a bit of an omen that Sky decided to move the show from the flagship Sky1 to its more female-focused channel of Sky Living, which I think it would be fair to say doesn’t have quite as large an audience. Basically, it’s a bit of a demotion disguised as a promotion. ‘Yeah, we’re moving Mount Pleasant to Sky Living because the show’s popular with women. It’s its right home.’ Clever, Sky! Clever.

 

If I’m being completely honest, if I wasn’t such a fan of the first series – or didn’t watch it – I don’t think I’d still be sticking with the second. I mean, it’s still a good enough show (I’d take Mount Pleasant over a lot of other “comedies” on TV nowadays) but it certainly hasn’t lived up to the first series.

 

Twitter – @UKTVReviewer

Also, keep up-to-date with the latest TV news, reviews and interviews at www.thecustardtv.com, where some of my articles will also appear.

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