I JUST CALLED TO SAY … I LIKE YOU

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Well, I’m pleased to see that the second episode of Peep Show lived up to the promise of the first. I arrived home slightly the worse for wear, just in time to catch it, so my memory for killer lines and moments of excruciating embarrasment isn’t what it might have been.
It’s as if Chandler and Joey have been transported from New York to Croydon, and given an unattractiveness makeover on the trip over. David Mitchell’s Mark is a less good-looking, even sadder, even more acerbic pre-Monica Chandler to Robert Webb’s Joey-without-the-charm Jeremy. Like Chandler, Mark has some nondescript office job; and, like Joey, Jeremy is a between-jobs artist (although a ‘musician’ rather than an actor). But their relationship is ultimately much more British, more brutish. Unlike Joey and Chandler, Mark and Jeremy have no female friends with whom they feel remotely comfortable. Denied this outlet, their mutual dependence and repressed mutual loathing resembles the desperate Estragon and Vladimir-inertia of Steptoe and Son or Hancock and Sid James. Nothing happens, forever.
In this week’s desperate Master-Slave dialectic, Mark, owed three month’s rent by Jeremy, ‘swings him’ an interview for a job as a clerical assistant. Mark’s reveries turn to the minor humiliations he will be able to impose on his flatmate if he gets the job. Jeremy, meanwhile, has the difficult task of performing well enough in the interview to convince Mark that he wants the job whilst ensuring that he doesn’t get it. Cue acutely painful interview situation – like, what interviews aren’t accutely painful? – culminating in Jeremy trying to pull his interviewer into the Pyramid selling scheme he has just been conned into.
Choice moments of horrible revelation:
Listless Jeremy, hunting through Mark’s stuff while he is at work, searches for porn — and, fingering a pile of glossy magazines, he thinks he has ‘hit the motherlode’, only to find that… they are Fantasy Gaming magazines.
And Mark, still hopelessly pursuing a woman in the office, leaves a message on her answering machine. After rambling ineptly and senselessly for a while, he burbles ‘I just called to say I …. like you.’