Lowdown series 2 has just ended on ABC1 and it’s probably worth asking: why did they bother? The series never promised to be anything other than a light-hearted take on the tabloid press – an entirely reasonable approach to take, because it’s not like there’s heaps and heaps of scope for satire and comedy there – but to spend at least half the episodes re-creating various media scandals from the past couple of years suggests that, well, the writers weren’t exactly brimming with ideas when the commission came through.
Last week we saw Lowdown’s take on that time Gordon Ramsey had an on-air blue with Tracey Grimshaw. Was it funny? Occasionally. Did we learn anything? Nup. At least this week we saw Alex and Bob taken down a peg or two by Ben (Craig McLaughlin), one of their victims in the first ever episode of the show, so there was some poetic justice if not much hilarity.
One of the key problems with this series is that the characters have been as surface level as the plots. Alex only thinks about himself and lives entirely in the moment, Dr James is a shonky general practitioner trying his luck with alternative therapies, Rita is a nutty artist who annoys people…they all get themselves into various mix-ups and mildly entertaining plots, but there’s not a lot at stake. Far be it for us to suggest that Stupid Stupid Man, a sitcom set in the kinda similar world of men’s magazines, had any kind of glory days, but at least it had distinct characters who’d play off each other in half interesting ways. What was happening in Lowdown? A group of people who basically like each other get into some mild conflict which will be resolved fairly quickly. Cue not much laughter.
On roughly the same level of interest was that The Sunday Sun’s editor Howard Evans (Kym Gyngell) had a heart attack and collapsed at the end of tonight’s show. Will he live to edit another paper? Is it all over? Does anyone care? The writers seemed to be hedging their bets here, so they clearly have no idea if this series will return. But it’s hard to imagine there’s anything more to say about Alex Burchill and chums, and it’s highly questionable that the ABC green lit this series at all given that all the ideas seemed to have played out in the first season. Mind you, Laid is coming back, so anything’s possible.