I'm not sure episode 2 was necessarily better than the premiere, as it was more low-key, but it was a more traditional installment of Peep Show, taking place in the familiar milieu. I was surprised by how quickly Mark's (David Mitchell) fatherholod was pushed into the background, as it feels like this development might not have such a huge impact on series 7. There may just be episodes, like this one, where Mark spends a chunk of time carrying his newborn son around, perhaps using him as an easy way to charm women.
The raison d'être of this episode 2 was to get Mark back together with newly single Dobby (Isie Sutty), by defeating Gerrard (Jim Howick) in his own underhanded quest to win her heart. It was great to see Gerrard given a bigger role, as we caught up with him working in a model shop, before he joined Mark back at his flat to play with their purchases (a doll of Franklin D. Roosevelt versus a Cyberman action figure). It's both funny and tragic that Mark, now an unemployed father, has regressed back into childhood as a coping mechanism.
Jez's (Robert Webb) story continued the hospital situation from last week, with him trying to woo Zahra (Camilla Marie Beeput), despite the fact her comatose boyfriend Ben (Danny Babington) has woken up and is thus a tougher obstacle. Zahra's blissfully ignorant that Jez is only interested in her sexually, while Ben's under the misapprehension that he's a do-gooder who deserves recompense for supporting his girlfriend at the hospital. This leads to Jez being given a job working for Ben (who runs a online musical portal), which gives him leverage to rejoin Super Hans's (Matt King) band "Man Feelings", with the power to given them a record deal, provided they rename themselves "Danny Dyer's Chocolate Homunculus".
Both storylines were enjoyable this week, even if I've never been a proponent of seeing Mark and Dobby get together. I'm not against them as a couple, but I preferred the early days of Mark and Sophie's relationship. It was also fun to see Gerrard more active in a storyline, as he's been something of a background figure for years, and I appreciated getting an insight into his personality. The fact Mark's circle of friends don't work together now gives the show added freedom to explore different situations/environments (such as Gerrard's geeky model shop), which is something that benefitted much of series 6, too.
Jez's storyline is another tweak on the story he's given every year, but I suppose that's part of the charm. He's someone who never learns from his mistakes and, if he manages to charm Zahra into an affair (all hot women seem drawn to Jez!), I still expect the fallout to be fun. He's a pitiable character who always seems to land on his feet, but is simply unable to stop himself from ruining a good thing. Now he's been given a credible job in the music biz (over a silly misunderstanding), but the fact it means actual work, and his boss is the boyfriend of someone he fancies, means he'll inevitably throw it all away.
Plenty of amusing moments this week, too, such as Jez using Sophie's breast milk to make cups of tea ("it's one step away from cannibalism!"), and there was a wry meta moment when Mark bemoaned the fact he can't see into Dobby's head and hear what she's thinking -- which is, of course, an ability we the audience have when it comes to Mark and Jez. And from six years of experiences, I think it's safe to say Mark wouldn't want to hear what Dobby's thinking. You certainly wouldn't want to get inside the mind of Super Hans...
What did you make of this week's episode?
WRITERS: Sam Bain & Jesse Armstrong
DIRECTOR: Becky Martin
TRANSMISSION: 3 December 2010, CHANNEL4/HD, 10PM