I'll admit, The Trip's beginning to outstay its welcome with me. It's starting to repeat itself too much, really. Rob Brydon's Al Pacino impression has gone from amusing to extremely irritating, while episode 5 once again ended with a scene of Steve Coogan trying to replicate his friend's "small man in a box"-voice in front of a mirror. In some ways it feels like every episode is a retake of the same storyline, in some ways, and there weren't enough new elements to hold me rapt this week.
Still, there were some fun moments in "The Yorke Arms": I enjoyed seeing Coogan split from Brydon while out hiking, only to stumble upon the world's most boring amateur geologist; some of the impressions (Woody Allen doing Les Dawson jokes) hit the spot; the debate over the lyrics of Abba's "The Winner Takes It All" was interesting; and the anecdotes of missed opportunities (Coogan losing out to Geoffrey Rush in the Peter Sellers biopic, Brydon cut from the same movie as Dustin Hoffman) was also a fun moment.
But seeing Coogan call his teenage son and lonely girlfriend didn't really deliver anything worthwhile, and it was a shame some of last week's story didn't feed into episode 5 (Steve's temptation with cocaine, married Rob making a failed pass at Steve's agent). This was largely self-contained and, while still wryly amusing throughout, I didn't laugh as much. It feels like the joke's wearing thin now, and I'm unsure if next week's finale is going to reveal any deep purpose behind the show. There's a chance viewers are trying to find more substance and subtext than here actually it; finding form and purpose in a simple repetition of theme.
For me, The Trip's about two middle-aged comedians, moving in different directions career-wise, forced to spend time together over six expensive meals, and while largely communicating via bravado and one-upmanship, will come to realize they're best friends who needed a break from their lives to rediscover each other and come to value the simpler pleasures in life. Hopefully the last episode will tie everything together in a bow, rather than just deliver another near-identical three-part installment (daytime sightseeing, the afternoon meal, retiring to bed).
What are your hopes for the finale next Monday?
DIRECTOR: Michael Winterbottom
TRANSMISSION: 29 November 2010, BBC2/HD, 10PM