It would be fair to say that tonight’s new Wednesday night sitcom double bill of Rosehaven followed by The Letdown didn’t initially excite us. We found the first series of Rosehaven a bit patchy, and we really disliked the pilot of The Letdown when it aired last year as part of Comedy Showroom, yet both seem fresher and improved after their hiatus.
The best bits of Rosehaven series one, were when Emma (Celia Pacquola) and Daniel (Luke McGregor) talked shit and played pointless, stupid pranks on each other. Less good, although kind of important in a sitcom, were the plots and other characters, which most of the time weren’t particularly funny.
Having perhaps realised where their show’s strength lay, writers and stars Pacquola and McGregor seem to have included more scenes where they can play off each other in this series, which means more laughs, although the other characters in the show are still way less funny than they are.
Daniel’s Mum Barbara (Kris McQuade) is sometimes funny, but mostly she’s there to be a scary authority figure, and when she does have a funny line it’s played so dry that the gag doesn’t quite work. As for Daniel’s girlfriend Grace (Katie Robertson), she just seems like the sort of generic girlfriend character that we thought we’d seen the last of in 90s sitcoms. It doesn’t help that we’ve only seen Grace via Skype so far this series, but even so, there’s little in the way of personality or comic potential there.
Mrs Marsh (Noela Foxcroft), McCallum Real Estate’s elderly receptionist, usually says something bizarrely funny, she only has about two lines per episode, so she’s no comic saviour. And while some of the guest or occasional roles in Rosehaven raise a laugh, that’s not quite enough for us. Seriously, this is a sitcom, everything about it should be trying to be funny.
The Letdown, on the other, seems more the kind of sitcom where pretty much all the characters have the potential to be funny. The show’s two main characters, new mother Audrey (Alison Bell) and 12-week-old Stevie, aside, it has a range of amusing supporting players, including the attendees at the local new mothers group, Audrey’s horrified childless friends, her self-indulgent mother and a local drug dealer she keeps running into.
And if you thought the first episode of The Letdown was a little different to the one which aired last year during Comedy Showroom, you’re right. The scenes involving Audrey’s husband Jeremy have been re-shot, as the role is now being played by Duncan Fellows.
Particularly worth noting is the scene where Audrey and Jeremy try to have sex for the first time since Stevie’s birth, but Stevie keeps crying, putting them both off. In the pilot this was a fairly short scene, and far less funny. Now, it’s really funny, and goes on for ages – it’s probably the highlight of the show.
It’s always good to see a show work to improve things and make them funnier. And having gone in not liking The Letdown, we think there are reasons to be optimistic about the rest of the series.