I'll be brief: episode 3 was possibly the least funny episode so far, partly because the formula's becoming slightly oppressive, but I also found there was more pathos to savour. For that reason, and the fact the episode ventured out into the wider world more often, I enjoyed this episode more emotionally. My usual praise and complaints remain the same (great banter, witty lines, self-indulgent, beautiful scenery, formulaic narratives), but there were some really lovely moments this week...
In particular, I adored the final scene, with Steve Coogan naked in front of a bathroom mirror, checking his face for wrinkles, while trying to mimic Rob Brydon's popular "small man trapped in a box" party trick and utterly failing. In such a brief scene we got a potent sense of Coogan's fear of mortality, jealousy, and competitive streak. He's a fascinating person (or exaggerated "character", we should say), and I think The Trip should be doing similar character moments.
Episode 3 wisely commented on the fact Coogan and Brydon's meals are following the same pattern, which helped take the edge off my own disquiet with the formula. The "competitive impressions" were absent, as Coogan and Brydon instead made each other laugh with a fruity English accent, co-creating a character called Holbeck Ghyll (the peculiar name of the restaurant). Maybe this marks a turning point, with their one-upmanship put aside? I hope so, as The Trip definitely needs to find some progression as we begin the final half next week.
- Enough with the Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino impressions, Mr Brydon! Those are beginning to grate. And as The Trip is already labeled a vanity project by some, using this episode to compare yourself to the poet Coleridge won't go down too well, Mr Coogan...
- Check out this article in The Guardian, where food critic Jay Rayner (The Observer columnist Coogan is fictionally substituting) offers his thoughts.
DIRECTOR: Michael Winterbottom
TRANSMISSION: 15 November 2010, BBC2/HD, 10PM