WRITERS: Julia Davis & Jessica HynesJulia Davis is certainly no stranger to black comedy, having already appeared in twisted shows like Human Remains and Nighty Night, but it's a little surprising to see Spaced's Jessica Hynes (née Stephenson) partnering her to write and star in a black-hearted tale of suburban revenge...
DIRECTOR: Elliot Hegarty
CAST: Julia Davis, Jessica Hynes, Mark Heap, David Cann, Kevin Eldon, Claire Rushbrook, Jessica Gunning, Stephen Evans, Lilly Ainsworth, Pravin Sunwar & Amanda Rawnsley
Lizzie (Davis) and Sarah (Hynes) are two fiftysomething housewives living in suburbia, both married to loathsome husbands who treat them with callous disregard and sneering contempt. Lizzie's husband John (David Cann) is having an obvious affair with their corpulent, lazy housekeeper Branita (Jessica Gunning); Sarah's husband Michael (Mark Heap) has taken to having meaningless, functional sex with her while he hides her face behind a pillow. Both introverted women are cowed into submission and have allowed themselves to accept their lot in life, as unloved slaves whose only escape from tedium and bullying is an amateur dramatics society. However, after a day of particularly unforgiveable treatment by their other halves, Lizzie and Sarah find themselves pushed to breaking point and, having come into possession of a handgun, decide to enact their revenge...
Lizzie And Sarah is of a particular style and content that many people just won't find particularly funny, that much is certain. Indeed, the BBC were allegedly so dumbfounded by this pilot's depressing tone that they scheduled it for a Saturday night graveyard slot of 11.55pm, so the chance of a full series doesn't look likely. If one is even necessary, as the story appeared to reach enough of a conclusion that I can't imagine what else Lizzie And Sarah would have to say. It was effectively 15-minutes of matrimonial bullying that segued into a domestic revenge scenario that lacked imagination because it was basically comprised of shooting their psychological aggressors dead with a gun they'd stolen from a thief.
The titular characters themselves were interchangeable; having no meaningful differences in temperament, accent, lifestyle, or taste in men. Their horrid husbands were likewise peas in a particularly odious pod. A subplot involving a memorial for a girl ran over by her own father's (Kevin Eldon) car, which inspired a musical memorial performed by two teenage classmates (Davis and Hynes), who gyrated to the Sugababes' "Hey Sexy" for the approval of a talent scout in the crowd, just felt misplaced and could have been cut entirely.
As a fan of Davis, Hynes and black comedy in general (which nobody does quite like us British), Lizzie And Sarah certainly had decent moments of chilling humour, uncomfortable bad taste, and jokes so near the knuckle they drew blood. However, a feeble storyline, near-identical characterisation for the leads, and unimaginative vengeance (just shoot the browbeaters), dealt enough blows to make this pilot feel like a wasted opportunity. I'd like to believe Davis and Hynes knew there'd be little hope of a full series, so opted to complete their story here, because I don't see any reason or need for more.
20 MARCH 2010: BBC2 / BBC HD, 11.45PM