“Sheldon’s out of town, so we can do whatever we want to do.” So says Raj, who unleashes on the gang another of his infamous theme evenings. Sadly, his futuristic murder-mystery meets with telling inertia.
The sound effects-assisted “extravaganza” does, however, solicit some wonderful what-if discussions, and thrusts second-string hero Stuart (Kevin Sussman) briefly into the limelight. He gets tonight’s big “ahh” moment and stars in an excellent pay-off.
Meanwhile, Sheldon is horrified to see his mother making whoopee with a stranger. It leads to a frank exchange of views, and a quaint line about giving “that good-time Charlie the heave-ho”.
Having survived the 1996 IRA bombing of Manchester, businessman and suburban dad Daniel (Philip Glenister) re-evaluates everything he holds dear. And, as the second episode of Peter Bowker’s funny, refreshing family drama begins, Daniel decides who it is he really wants to hold most dear of all.
We’ve moved on to 1997 and as Oasis belt out Live Forever over the opening titles (From There to Here’s music adviser, DJ Rob da Bank, has done a brilliant job), Daniel’s daughter Louise is standing as a Labour candidate at the general election that will sweep Tony Blair into Downing Street after a landslide victory.
Daniel’s dim brother Robbo (Steven Mackintosh, such an underrated actor) lopes through life remarkably unscathed. But Daniel, who could be seen as a weak and selfish man, feels as if one life isn’t enough. Yet there are too many conflicting demands and something has to give.
You can tell when programme-makers want to make their subject look foolish because they accompany every scene with snippets of plinkety-plonk music that are the audio equivalent of a nudge in the ribs and a giggle. Look how absurd it is, the music implies, that Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner is wrestling with her umbrella while doing a TV interview, or addressing a room full of bored officers.
In fact, of course, you can edit anybody’s working day to look daft. The trouble is, Ann Barnes’s job appears, on the face of it, more absurd than most. In theory she’s the link between Kent police and the public, but we get the strong impression that in practice she’s more of a way for the Government to deflect criticism from their cuts.
Miles Blayden-Ryall’s film for Cutting Edge may portray Barnes as a bit bumbling and unguarded (she made headlines when she appointed a “youth commissioner” last year, who had to resign days later). But Barnes emerges as oddly endearing – even when the flim-flam and bureaucracy around her remind you of W1A.