Fortunately, last night the third episode of Murder They Hope: Dales of the Unexpected aired at 9 pm thus giving viewers the opportunity to avoid an hour of Eurovision. The regular ensemble cast was joined by Lee Mack, Jason Manford and Hannah Waddingham amongst others.
Lee Mack is a very funny comedian. Also a brilliant captain on #WILTY and the creator, main writer and star of ‘Not Going Out’ where he delivers the script like, well, a very funny comedian. Whatever character he portrays he is always Lee Mack. It’s Roger Moore Syndrome. So casting him as the deranged serial killer in Murder They Hope: Dales of the Unexpected did little to help lift the script out of the realms of pantomime.
All the previous episodes have had an element of farce, it’s what makes the series funny and enjoyable but unfortunately last night, writer, Jason Cook pushed the genre too far.
The storyline could have been intriguing enough – a serial killer linking his murders to a children’s song – but the script or direction requiring Lee Mack’s character to signal his insanity by laughing like an insane cartoon character was OTT.
In a comedy we can perhaps overlook how he manage to manufacture a fairground ride in the middle of a field (never mind how it was powered), we can maybe overlook how a huge church bell could have been transported to another field and dropped onto a victim but can we really overlook how one man managed to gag and bind a coach load of passengers to their seats without any resistance?
As usual Terry (Johnny Vegas) and Gemma (Sian Gibson) got up to oddball things in their pursuit of criminals, like dressing up as furry canines to catch a dog snatcher. Predictably the police were led by an incompetent boss, in this case Chief Inspector Shepherd (Hannah Waddingham).
Unexpectedly, Shobna Gulati’s role as police sergeant Vicky was given more scope to express her talent and it was good to confirm that Jason Manford, also a very funny comedian, can be funny and act concurrently. A fact he has already proven in Ordinary Lies and Scarborough. His cameo as Vicky’s husband was brief but honed.
There will no doubt be further ‘Murders’ from the pen of Jason Cook to come but he should be watchful not to jump the shark.
Afraid to say that his episode wasn’t quite up to the mark. It wasn’t so much farce as farcical.