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Not Going Out

Not Going Out

Fri Apr 5, 9.30-10pm, BBC1

By Rachel Aroesti
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Series six, episode one
Lee Mack’s reliably straightforward sitcom returns for a sixth series with Lee reluctantly coming to the aid of flatmate Lucy after she runs over a potential client’s pet rabbit. Complications follow in the form of mistaken identity, a troublemaking parrot and some car keys falling down a drain. It’s nothing new, yet it feels oddly novel: long-running, über-traditional sitcoms are currently few and far between.

Judging by the first half of this opener, that might not seem like a great loss. Laboured witticisms come at the expense of proper dialogue, with jokes and puns of wildly varying quality crowbarred into the script at any opportunity. But in those moments when the action builds to almost perfectly constructed silliness, Mack’s wooden acting, the stock plot, incessant recaps and broadly etched set-up (Tim Vine’s exit from the show is explained with thundering lack of subtlety seconds in) start to gel. Nowadays, we might prefer our farce in more coherent and intelligent surroundings, but you’d have to be pretty serious about comedy to begrudge this steadfast sitcom its enduring success.
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