Mitchell and Webb Are Back | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Mitchell and Webb Are Back

TV Critic Max Marks weighs in on Back, the latest comedic attempt from Mitchell and Webb

The dynamic duo are back… in Back. I was so excited. Peep Show remains one of my favourite television comedies and my expectations for this new series were huge. I really wanted to write a glowing report and implore you to go and watch it but I can’t. I have to admit I was a little disappointed. They have tried something quite different and I don’t think it has worked. If you are looking for the traditional Mitchell and Webb dynamic or any of those awkward but real moments that made Peep Show what it was, then you will be disappointed.

I am not sure you could call Back a comedy, it is more drama or thriller with comedic elements
The premise of Back is actually rather complicated. It starts just as failed lawyer, Stephen Nichols’ (David Mitchell) father, a publican, has died. Andrew Donnelly (Robert Webb) a foster sibling of Stephen and successful international businessman has come back to pay his respects and visit the family that gave him the happiest time of his childhood. As Andrew ingratiates himself with his old family, Stephen feels increasingly isolated and at risk of losing his family and his father’s pub. There is some interesting use of flashbacks to provide the viewer with some insight into Nichols' and Donnelly’s experiences in childhood. It is also interesting to see how the children of the flashbacks make appearances in the present towards the end of the series to highlight both brothers' immaturity.

I am not sure you could call Back a comedy, it is more drama or thriller with comedic elements. Obviously, humour is a central theme but the plot takes precedence and I personally don’t watch comedies for engaging plot lines. There are some very funny moments, such as the dog hostage rescue which ends with Uncle Geoff (Geoffrey McGivern) beating the shit out of the would-be kidnapper with a baseball bat and Ellen Nichols (Louise Brealey) tripping on acid. There are also plenty of Mitchell and Webb-esque awkward moments that I think defines their comedic style.

David Mitchell and Robert Webb are comedians and not classic actors, in all of their series they only play themselves
The biggest problem with Back is that David Mitchell and Robert Webb are comedians and not classic actors, in all of their series they only play themselves. David Mitchell is always the unpopular depressive that gets pushed around and Robert Webb is always the confident people person that takes advantage. Expecting anything more from them is probably unfair but it makes it hard not to compare their different series closely and I think it falls short.

Having said all of that the series is not all that bad, it is just not what I was hoping they would produce. I wouldn’t recommend you go out of your way to watch it but if you have a spare half an hour give it a go, you may enjoy it. The whole series is currently available on All 4 and the final episode was left with enough unanswered questions that I anticipate a second series will be commissioned. Hopefully, like so many excellent televisions series, the first series is often a disappointment, classic comedy series like Minder are a good example of this. I really do want to like Back, but it just isn’t for me right now, perhaps it will be when it comes back.

 



Published

27th October 2017 at 11:00 am



Images from

The Guardian and Channel 4



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