This third episode was entertaining and well-written, as usual, but didn't offer much unique to comment on. It was penned by regular contributor Simon Blackwell, and his work is indistinguishable from creators Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, which is as it should be, but this episode still felt like mid-series padding. It was still very funny, but lacked big development.
Two storylines dominated: Mark (David Mitchell) began to fret that he's incapable of satisfying Dobby (Isy Suttie) sexually, so bought a nine inch dildo nicknamed "Kenneth" to help spice up their love life; and Jez (Robert Webb) continued his quest to get Zahra (Camilla Marie Beeput) into bed, which currently involves pretending he's interested in her hobbies, such as art house cinema and reading books. Unfortunately, Jez has become trapped in his role as Zahra's platonic new pal, and her boyfriend Ben (Danny Babington) is actually pleased Jez is servicing his girlfriend intellectually, leaving him free to (ahem) service her physically.
I'm enjoying the situation with Jez more than I expected to, probably because it's a love-triangle that involves two new characters. Mark tends to bounce between the same supporting characters (even after he got fired from his job and became a waiter), whereas Jez is more likely to draw in new blood. However, so far Zahra appears to be just another naïve yet sophisticated love interest (rather like Big Suze), but suffering from a complete lack of insight when it comes to Jez's obvious idiocy. But I'm intrigued to see what happens when Jez steals Ben's girlfriend -- which he will surely do, as all women fall for his charms/lies sooner or later (although most are revealed to have been manipulating Jez from the beginning.)
The highlight of this episode was Jez having to speed-read Wuthering Heights, as he'd agreed to host Zhara's book club but has only ever read "Mr Nice", and this led to Mark having to talk Jez through the very act of reading prose ("it's like watching a sheep use an iPhone.") What I appreciated about this story was seeing Mark step in to spare Jez's embarrassment at the book club (after Ben criticized Jez's ignorant remark about the book's theme), by cutting Ben down to size with a intelligent rebuttal. Sometimes you forget that Mark and Jez are childhood friends, rather than flatmates who tolerate each other, so it was a welcome return to the camaraderie that somehow felt more central in the earlier years.
Oh, and Super Hans (Matt King) going cold turkey from drugs and consequently developing a rapacious desire to knit was wonderful. As was Mark getting fired for peeing in the restaurant's jalapeno sauce, to avenge a disgruntled customer who earlier sold him a duster for £11.
A funny episode with an amusing scenario for Jez to endure, if lacking huge laughs and big surprises.
WRITER: Simon Blackwell
DIRECTOR: Becky Martin
TRANSMISSION: 10 December 2010, Channel 4/HD, 10PM