Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Finale review: THE WRONG MANS

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

BBC2's hit comedy-thriller The Wrong Mans finished on Tuesday evening, and a second series is all but assured after writers/stars James Corden and Mathew Baynton tweeted as much:

But did this six-part show end on a high, or go out with a fizzle? I think The Wrong Mans can largely be considered a big success. It started strongly, there wasn't much sag in the middle, and the ending worked well. The genre clich├ęs became a bit too thick in the second half, but in some respects the show's about two ordinary blokes reacting to the fact they're in a silly episode of Spooks.

The situations were always exaggerated and humorous because you recognised the tropes of espionage and gangster dramas. I particularly liked a scene in the finale when Phil (Corden) almost cried when he had to throw away his new mobile phone, to prevent people tracking his whereabouts using its GPS. Who hasn't watched a fictional government agent throw away an expensive phone and momentarily consider the real-world issues of doing that – if only in terms of explaining to your network provider what happened to it.

The Wrong Mans was packed with smart moments like that, when the ordinary collided with the extraordinary, and it worked brilliantly. I also appreciated how the straight drama of the show operated independent of the comedy, and yet the comedy gave everything an extra kick. It wasn't being hilarious every single minute, but it had a confidence in things whenever a joke wasn't being cracked. It wasn't scared of a serious beat or two. I could have watched a version of The Wrong Mans without any jokes, which is a big compliment.

While I'm slightly irritated a second series is on the cards, because I worry when a 'miniseries' is stretched beyond its means, I'm willing to give The Wrong Mans a chance. And that's despite the fact Sam and Phil's heroism is known to the intelligence services and Sam's own ex-girlfriend. I can imagine a second series pushing things into a bigger, scarier, higher-stakes arena. Maybe the success of series 1 will result in a budget boost, so they could even venture into Europe?

The show hasn't exhausted itself creatively over a mere six episodes, but I do think it has to be careful. Sam and Phil made for great fish-out-of-water everymen(s), but they can't stay that way forever. Soon they'll be accustomed to certain things happening, or have a confidence in themselves to get out of trouble based on past experiences, etc. Before too long the initial joy of the show may be lost, or at least eroded slightly. One more series, then? Yeah, I'm behind that.

Finally, I once again recommend Hulu subscribers watch The Wrong Mans when it debuts in the US on 11 November.