Twitter as a marketing tool has great power and with great power of course comes no responsibility whatsoever. You have great power, why would you give a fuck about responsibility? That’s why whenever there is a Twitter buzz like the one for Robert Popper‘s sitcom Friday Night Dinner you should treat it with suspicion bordering on hostility. You can’t move for groupies on Twitter. Some of them are journalists and they need to be fed feet first into a wood chipper Uday Hussein style. Eavesdropping on the famous, talented or just notorious is seductive. The dynamic debases everyone involved. Twitterati get drunk on power and start to believe that everything they say matters. Gitterati (everyone else) go to great lengths to keep the delusion going. It’s an unholy tawdry mook fest and we’re all to blame.
"The dynamic debases everyone involved. Twitterati get drunk on power and start to believe that everything they say matters. Gitterati (everyone else) go to great lengths to keep the delusion going. It’s an unholy tawdry mook fest and we’re all to blame."
Once the fog of bore clears it’s obvious that Friday Night Dinner is a mediocre sitcom about two young brothers (20 or thereabouts) and their Friday night ritual of having dinner back at their parents’ house. Adam (Will from The Inbetweeners) and Jonny (Tom Rosenthal) are our boys; Paul Ritter is fine as an inappropriate befuddled sitcom dad; Tamsin Greig, sort of alright as the Maureen Lipman channelling mom but they’re on ground so well trodden it’s starting to look like the Somme.
Quite a few things sound familiar, in fact. The banter between Adam and Johnny about Johnny’s non-existent girlfriend is pretty funny but that’s because it’s directly lifted from the Inbetweeners where Popper was script editor. It’s Will talking to Jay. Seriously, you may as well just green screen James Buckley in and be done with it. Then there’s Jewish humour uncomfortably close to that of Simon Amstell’s Grandma’s House. Mark Heap plays a creepy neighbour somewhere between Brian from Spaced and Alan from Green Wing. With sitcom por familia, familiarity breeds contempt.
"If he was in CSNY he’d be Stephen Stills. Nothing wrong with being Stephen Stills – but don’t get telling me he’s Neil Young. He’s Stephen Stills."
The main problem is that Robert Popper is just not that funny a guy. To borrow a phrase from Half Man Half Biscuit if he was in CSNY he’d be Stephen Stills. Nothing wrong with being Stephen Stills – you get to work with giants, date Judy Collins and knock out Elvis Costello for calling Ray Charles a nigger – but don’t get telling me he’s Neil Young. He’s Stephen Stills.
I don’t know why we can’t do family sitcom in the UK. In the last decade America has produced Malcolm in the Middle, Arrested Development and Modern Family. Now I dig The Royle Family and Outnumbered but they ain’t even in the same league. Friday Night Dinner isn’t the worst sitcom you’ll see but it’s depressingly uninspired and no amount of Twitter dick riding is going to change that.
The verdict on Friday Night Dinner: Needs warming over.
Marks out of 10: 5
Imagined: Tuesday 8 March 2011