You want to know the really terrifying thing about The Persuasionists? They knew. Every one of them. Daisy Haggard did Psychoville, Green Wing and Man Stroke Woman. Adam Buxton – he did The Adam and Joe show. He’s funny. Simon Farnaby worked with Chris Morris. Iain Lee, um, introduced Sacha Baron Cohen. Co -producers Iain Morris and Damon Beesley wrote The Inbetweeners. And, ignoring his joyless, pious Twitter feed, script editor Andrew Collins is a really good writer. They know the difference. Can you imagine them waiting for this to go public? The shame, the fear, the self-loathing? Dragging this career timebomb along with them for all those months? And you think the Haiti footage is harrowing?
“Thake created the “Slag of All Snacks” campaign. That thick-eared yobbishness is certainly present here. He’s created soundbite situation comedy – slogans and jokoids buffed and polished utterly unrelated to each other, situation or character.”
So yeah, the rumours are true. The Persuasionists is eyepoppingly poor and I’m going to blame the writer/creator
Jonathan Thake. Most of the others have been involved in something good and his only notable claim to fame is the Pot Noodle “Slag of All Snacks” campaign. That thick-eared Kevin Bishop yobbishness is certainly present here. He’s created soundbite situation comedy – slogans and jokoids buffed and polished, utterly unrelated to each other, situation, story or character.
“The Persuasionists principals just butt up against each other like West End holograms appearing in different shows.”
The upshot is we are in an ad agency. Billy (Iain Lee) is the ideas man, Greg (Adam Buxton) is the no-ideas man, Emma (Daisy Haggard) a pretty vacant trollop, boss Clive (Jarred Christmas) is a larger-than-life Australian, Keaton (Simon Farnaby) is a madcap foreign office lothario (think Kramer meets Colin Hunt). As if you need telling, it’s a wacky ad agency where anything goes.
It’s located firmly in sitcomland – that magical place where people say and do things you only see in sitcoms. It’s trying to be The IT Crowd but Graham Linehan is a master who has an atomically precise grasp of sitcom fundamentals and plays with convention brilliantly. The Persuasionists principals just butt up against each other like West End holograms appearing in different shows. Behavioural non sequiturs abound.
“You know Nicholas Lyndhurst is Rodney Trotter before you’re even introduced. But none of the characters here resemble their names. Turdly writing again.”
Simon Farnaby as Keaton is one of the worst cases of miscasting since Christopher Ryan was hastily shoehorned in as Mike the Cool Guy in The Young Ones. It’s a shit name choice too. You’d be surprised how important the character’s name is. You know Nicholas Lyndhurst is Rodney Trotter before you’re even introduced. But none of the characters here resemble their names. Turdly writing again.
Jonathan Thake seems to have gone “wouldn’t it be funny/weird if….?”, collected a load of quirky, unusual and incongruent things and included every single one on the off chance that one might be funny. Loser Greg dates a model. The agency promotes Cockney Cheese. Emma sticks the ugly people in the boiler (geddit?!) room. He strikes out because none of this is funny. It’s a waste of a talented cast. It’s highly derivative. It can go fuck itself.
The verdict on The Persuasionists: The slag of all sitcoms.
Marks out of 10: 4
Imagined: Friday, January 29, 2010