Words: Paul Dean
'The Trip' Episode 3: 'Holbeck Ghyll'
SYNOPSIS: "Comedy series starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Over the course of six meals at six different restaurants in and around the Lake District, Lancashire and the Yorkshire Dales, this ultimate odd couple find themselves debating the big questions of life over a series of culinary delights." (bbc.co.uk)
"Do you think we just have the same conversation every restaurant?" asks (fictional) Rob Brydon. He wonders if he and (fictional) Steve Coogan are destined to spend the rest of their time together repeating an endless cycle of impersonations, awkward exchanges, nervous chuckles and cantankerous critiques of each other, all while eating. They may have found themselves trapped in a not entirely unpleasant purgatory, or perhaps that's only Coogan, since it seems this trip gives him far too much time to ruminate on where his life leaves him unsatisfied, something only brought into starker contrast by Brydon's own contentment.
I love 'The Trip' and I look forward to it the way I did 'The Day Today', so many years ago, the way I have looked forward to very few television shows indeed. I particularly love how unforced its humour is, how scenes don't always need to end with a punchline, or indeed feature any jokes at all. 'The Trip' builds humour around its story, not the other way around.
Most of all, its slowly building characters, its careful pacing its and natural, improvised wit is starting to make me feel like this is my own, special show that only I completely get. I secretly feel sorry for anyone who can't identify the impersonations or who doesn't know why Coogan is bellowing "Ah-haaa!" from the top of a hill in the Lake District. I feel smart and I feel included in something rather exclusive.
If you wish to join me then, well, that's up to you. To be honest, I'm quite happy to have all these in-jokes just for myself. I'll be having another dinner with Brydon and Coogan again next Monday. I'm not sure there'll be room for you at the table.
WATCH until 9:29pm, Monday 13 Dec 2010. UK users only.