Catastrophe ended series 2 on a cliffhanger. Sharon Horgan’s Sharon had just got drunk and engaged in passionless sex with a stranger. Her husband Rob (Rob Delaney) had just discovered a receipt for her morning after pill. We left him sitting in his living room with his wife and young son open-mouthed. What was he going to do?
The first episode of series three kicks off at that precise moment, when he has to decide whether to confront the woman he loves… Or let it go.
Having watched the first episode of the new series, we are giving nothing away. All we’ll say is that the Channel 4 comedy maintains its viscerally funny punch with every line.
The series, one of Channel 4’s biggest comedy successes in recent years, has gained a whole new audience since it began streaming on Amazon in the United States. But at the heart of the comedy is still a cocoon of transatlantic love and intimacy that protects the two characters, whatever life throws at them.
And it throws a lot. Early on in series three we find Rob battling the perils of joblessness and hints that he is returning to the drinking that we had all assumed he had finally left behind.
Rob is still Rob, though, quick-witted, passionate, mired in love, parenthood and confusion. Sharon is besieged with guilt as she faces up to what she has done.
Amid all the problems thrown up by her guilty secret, Sharon finds herself promoted at her teaching job at the start of series three. Her first address to the school in her new senior role is deliciously done.
Life has clearly taken its toll on the pair, but there is still that same ebullience about their relationship that has you rooting for them all the way.
The jokes are as snappy and scabrous as ever but the key to this series is its warmth as much as its wit, the frank badinage allaying any possibility of soppiness. Once again you believe in their arguments as much as you are convinced by their love for each other.
Series three see a welcome return for the other characters who populate the comedy. Sharon’s best friend Fran (Ashley Kensen) is now separated from her intense husband Chris (Mark Bonnar) and appears as selfish as ever. Both of course offer their own particular brand of relationship advice to Rob and Sharon, even though their awareness of their own problems is, well, catastrophically bad.
The sixth (and final) episode of the new series will also see a return for Carrie Fisher’s Mia, Rob’s ghastly mother in what promises to be a “chunkier” role (Horgan’s words) and in what Channel 4 describe as a “highly emotional” episode. We can’t wait.
Catastrophe series 3 will start on Channel 4 on Tuesday February 28 at 10pm