Aug 22, 2013

[TV] Miranda: Series 1

British television is a veritable gold mine for wonderful television - at least the kind of witty, intelligent and yet shallow television that particularly tickles my fancy. A friend of mine had been badgering me to try out this show, Miranda, for some time now and but for one reason or another I haven't found the opportunity to get into the show.

But thankfully I got over that and now I'm hooked. But since it's a BBC show, this also means that we all have to suffer through the fact that there are only 6 episodes per series (or season in US-speak), which is a horribly short span of time to enjoy Miranda's unique brand of quirkiness.

Yes, it's sort of a given that British humor tends to have an above average likelihood of tickling my funny bone. However given my partner was also laughing at the show is a good sign that my new interest in this series isn't simple a niche sort of thing. And so I'm happy to write this review today and see who else I can get into this amazing comedy.

Synopsis: Miranda is a BBC comedy series created by and starring Miranda Hart. It first aired in 2009 on BBC Two and actually won Miranda Hart the 2009 Royal Television Society Award for a comedy performance.

The series is based on Miranda's semi-autobiographical writing and situates her as the owner of a joke shop / boutique and her apartment of residence being right above the shop. Her only employ is her childhood friend Stevie (Sarah Hadland), who manages the shop for the most part despite Miranda's propensity for sending customers out. Her mother, Penny (Patricia Hodge), is obsessed with her finding a proper husband and seems to be trying fix her up on dates any chance she gets.

Miranda continues to meet-up with her boarding school friends, Tilly (Sally Phillips) and Fanny (Katy Wix) even though she can never truly relate to them and generally has poor luck with men. This could be because of her social awkwardness, her towering height (she's 6'1"), her tendency to burst into song, or maybe just her general clumsiness. But she is rather close friends with Gary (Tom Ellis), who works as a chef at the restaurant next door, but it seems that she is unable to muster the nerve to take things to the next level.

From the very start of the show, we are faced with Miranda addressing the audience. This is first seen in the "introduction" to eat episode and continues on in various asides as she looks directly at the camera and somewhat gets us involved. And this narrative device is brilliantly used in a manner that helps you feel not as a mere spectator but somehow part of the action. It's the TV equivalent of the lead character occasional winking at you or nudging you in order to get your attention.

And Miranda is hilarious whether in terms of her physical comedy, her diverse expressions and of course the banter that she gets into with all the other characters. And given the nature of this comedy, everybody gets their chance to get in a few zingers from time to time - and that's excellent writing all around. Then again, at times it feels like people speak in quotable zingers, which totally maximizes each and every episode.

The romantic tension between Miranda and Gary is rather endearing - you spend the entire short series wondering if they'll ever get together and yet they continually drift back into the friend zone. And as much as each episode seems uniquely madcap and practically unrelated to the prior one, the one plot thread that is nurtured and developed across the series is their potential romance. I swear, it has this more positive Moonlighting kind of vibe that has you thinking that the show may take a turn for the worse if they do get together.

Miranda is at the very heart of the show and her awkwardness paired with her wit end up with her being rather endearing. You root for her and hope that she does become happier even though she continually stresses (and demonstrates) why she's perfectly happy living on her own.

Miranda is witty, hilarious and entertaining all-around, which is really all you can ask from a comedy TV series. The only problem I have with the show is the fact that it only runs over 6 half-hour episodes for this season. Thus on the whole I'm happy to rate the show as 5 moments of Miranda falling flat on her face out of a possible 5.

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