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Coupling Series One was released in 2001 following its showing on BBC2, and was hailed as the "British Friends".
It certainly has some similarities to Friends, as the plot centres around the lives and loves of six thiryt-somethings, 3 girls, 3 boys. It's comedy and witty one liners are also similar, however there is a distinctly British feel to the humour.
The six main characters are Susan (Sarah Alexander), Steve (Jack Davenport), Patrick (Ben Miles), Sally (Kate Isitt), Jane (Gina Bellman) and Jeff (Richard Coyle).
Susan and Steve have been a couple for about a year, but Steve previously dated Jane, and Susan has previously been involved with Patrick. Susan and Sally are best friends, and Jeff is a friend of Steve. There are a few scenes of all the characters together, but often they are divided into the boys and the girls, or as couples.
Each episode has a different story/drama within it, with humour often revolving around their love lives, or a misunderstanding of some sort. The series focuses on their relationships with each other, the confusions between what the different sexes think and each of them at some point finding themselves in various interesting scenarios.
The best comedy character, I think, is Jeff. He appears to live on another planet almost as is constantly coming out with classic lines and bizarre theories to explain what goes on in life. He also seems to have had a fairly traumatic childhood which is hinted at through comic references.
Whilst Coupling was hailed as the British equivalent of Friends, it never got quite the same levels of fame or popularity, which is a shame as I found this show absolutely hilarious. There are some brilliant lines and very funny characters. It's a show for both the boys and the girls, so if you've not seen it before, give it a watch.
Coupling is about six friends whose lives are strangely interwoven through sexual exploits. The main characters are Steve (Jack Davenport) who is the boyfriend of Jane (Gina Bellman) who (taken from the first episode) whilst in the local bar is dumping Jane runs into Susan (Sarah Alexander) and asks her on a date. Steve is joined in the bar by Jeff (Richard Coyle) who is a friend of his and co-worker Susan and has had a failed sexual experience with Susan. When Susan's friend Sally (Kate Isitt) tries to get together with Susan's ex Patrick (Ben Miles) the end result is that we see all six become friends.
Confused? Once you get past the episodes where we learn how the people know each other we get to a comedy which has drawn a lot of comparisons to the American hit comedy Friends due to the group spending a lot of time in the local bar (as oppossed to the coffee shop in Friends) but with the show having a sexual based humour with a lot of references to pornography, masturbation and body parts.
The best character is Jeff who is awful with the ladies and has crazy theories like the giggle loop theory (when you have a small giggle that you try to stop you then giggle about that and this goes on until you have to let out a huge belly laugh) and along with the rest of the gang he manages to deliver lots of laughs.
If you like low brow sexual comedy then this is the one for you as the cast manage to pull this off so well that it is bound to give you a few laughs along the way. I love the fantastic script and the storylines are so far fetched that it is just fantastic to watch. Thanks to an excellent cast that have been put together perfectly the comedy truly is hilarious and I would recommend it to anyone to at least give it a try.
Written by Stephen Moffat (Doctor Who, Jekyll) Coupling is an intelligent and highly witty sitcom, examining the pleasures and pitfalls of modern dating. Originally touted as an English version of 'Friends,' which relies heavily on slapstick and one-liners, Coupling sets itself apart with its intricate humour and complicated non-linear narratives.
Coupling revolves around the lives and complex relationships between a group of six thirty-something people. When Steve (Jack Davenport) meets Susan (Sarah Alexander), it's love at first sight; however, Steve's plans to date Susan go awry due to the fact that, no matter how hard he tries, he can't break up with his long-term girlfriend, the eccentric Jane (Gine Bellman). After many failed attempts to tell her in person, and with his date with Susan rapidly approaching, he resorts to leaving a message on Jane's answerphone. However, even this plan backfires spectacularly. Intending to let her down gently, he begins his message:
Steve: "You're a very beautiful woman, Jane, and a man would have to be crazy not to want to spend the rest of his life with you..."
Answerphone: "This tape is now full. Please hang up."
At the other end of the spectrum, Susan's break-up with moronic playboy Patrick (Ben Miles) couldn't be easier. Now she just has to stop him getting involved with her desperate friend, Sally (Kate Isitt). Meanwhile, neurotic and unfortunate accountant, Jeff (Richard Coyle), a mutual friend of both Susan and Steve, is becoming increasingly anxious. While Steve is aware that Jeff and Susan briefly dated, he begins to suspect that one of them may not be being completely honest about what really happened.
Covering such risque topics as the male obsession with lesbians, the female stalker, how men really feel about vibrators, and one woman's abiding crush on Angus Deaton , it's no wonder that Coupling has a 15 age rating. However, the script is orginal, clever and excessively funny, introducing concepts such as 'The Giggle-loop,' 'The Relationship Zone' and 'The Cupboard of Patrick's Love.'
Based on writer Steven Moffat's burgeoning relationship with Sue Vertue, after whom Steve and Susan take their names, the other characters are representitive of the confident and paranoic elements of the male and female psyche. Every viewer will almost certainly be able to identify with at least one, if not all of the characters.
The opening theme for the sitcom is 'Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps,' written by Osvaldo Farrés and perfomed by Mari Williams.
Stephen Moffat (Jekyll, Doctor Who)
Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Caribbean, This Life)
Sarah Alexander (Green Wing, Smack the Pony)
Gina Bellman (Jekyll)
Kate Isitt (Strictly Confidential, Is it legal?)
Ben Miles (V for Vendetta, Cold Feet)
Richard Coyle (Human Traffic, Lorna Doone)
Originally shown on:
This show was dubbed as the English "Friends", however I think that was a little unfair to "Coupling". Although Friends is funny, this is articulate, witty and with just a touch of sexual perversion. Of course there are similarities - it revolves around 6 late twenty-something men and women, the dynamic between them, and they spen most of their time hanging out at a trendy wine bar (Alcohol is the British coffee!)
Steve Taylor (Davenport) - Steve is the leader of the boys. At the start of the series he is struggling to break up with Jane, but keeps getting distracted by her suggestive comments of lesbianism and stockings.
Patrick Maitland (Miles) - Patrick is the ultimate playboy. He has a powerful job, fast car and the nickname of the "donkey." He only sees women as objects to sleep with and if they won't they must be lesbians. He used to date Susan.
Jeff Murdock (Coyle) - Jeff is the eccentric Welsh pervert who is obsessed with women and scarred by a bizaare relationship with his mother. He has theories on every relationship matter including "unflushable girlfriends", "the melty man" and the "giggle loop"
Susan Walker (Alexander) - A professional woman who starts the series having a casual fling with Patrick, but quickly ends up with Steve. Works with Jeff and is old friends with Sally
Jane Christie (Bellman) - Jane is the most self obsessed woman on the planet who knows just how to manipulate everyone around her.
Sally Harper (Isitt) - A beautician desperate not to get old and therefore only smiles and single men to avoid wasting the elasticity of her skin. Old friends with Susan but secretly resents ger for being so perfect.
1 Flushed - Steve wants to dump Jane, but she wont take no for an answer. In the same bar Patrick and Susan are also breaking up. After nipping out of the toilet cubicle to grab a condom, Steve bumps into Susan and asks her out. On their date Jeff turns up to make sure he is not the topic of discussion, Jane then shows up after phoning all the taxi firms to hunt him down, then Sally and Patrick turn up on their own date. The whole first date debarcle is resolved by a public breast flashing incident with the statement "I intend this breast satirically!"
2 Size Matters - After Steve rings Susan and completely forgets the whole English language, he finally gets round to arranging their proper first date.Susan offers to cook which the girls identify as code for "Lets have sex and I will cater." After the girls overhear the boys conversation about the best time to take your socks off during foreplay the date commences. Sally makes it clear to Patrick she will never have sex with him as he is a Tory, but is devastated to learn of his nickname "The Donkey" shortly after. At finding this out Steve becomes inesecure abiut sleeping with Susan so send Jeff into the toilet to find out what they are dealing with - just as Sally does the same. Meanwhile Jane tries to make Steve jealous by dating a gay man.
3 Sex death and nudity - As Jane has forgotten to tell her family that her and Steve broke up, he has to escort her to her aunts funeral. Not happy with this arrangement, Susan invites herself along and invites Patrick along as her date, unaware that he has already asked Jeff.
Patrick then asks Sally along much to her distress as she hates elderly peope.
Meanwhile Jeff has taken to imagining everyone naked to help him get through a job interview and teaches everyone the giggle loop - a concept where you can't hold a laugh in at wildly inappropriate moments.
4 Inferno - Steve finds Susan cleaning his flat and was shocked after realising he had left "Lesbian Spank Inferno" in the video player. Susan decides to hold a dinner party at Steves and invites the whole group over - all of who know about the tape but all too embarassed to mention it. During an awkward silence Steve tells Susan he loves her, which irritates Jane. Jane then convinces her therapist along to the party but Steve thinks she is her new girlfriend. The dinner party obviosly descends into comedic chaos with the therapist thinking Patrick is gay thanks to his new 'hardman haircut.'
5 The Girl with two breasts - The boys are in the bar checking out a beautiful woman. After discussing the merits of breast having individual brains and how if women were telepathic they would kill all men for being perverts, Jeff decides to go and chat her up. Unfortunately (or fortunately for Jeff) she doesn't understand a word of English. After watching the conversation from Jeffs point of view, we then rewind it and see it from the girls point of view. The resulting confusion is hilarious
6 The cupboard of Patrick's love - Jane unexpectedly turns up at Patrick's flat and discovers a cupboard filled with videos with girls names on them. He has videoed every woman he has slept with and stored it in the cupboard. Steve isn't happy that there is a tape of Susan there, as is Susan when Jane tells her. The story is interrupted by the noys discussion of the best naked actresses including Britt Eckland and Helen Mirren and Jeffs childhood sexual arousal at the television set. So all the boys go to Patrick's to watch the video much to Susans disgust
£17.99 from Play.com
£8.49 from ChoicesUK.com
£6.95 from dvd.co.uk
Coupling is one of the most well written comedy series to come out of Britain in the last decade. It is shot in an unconventional way, with captions, flashbacks and even repeats in different languages.The relationships developing between the characters as they realise each others boundaries is great. Plus some of the conversations between the boys are both surreal and hilarious. Steve's monologues as he gets stressed are well written and brilliantly delivered, and even though the series is only 6 episodes long you can really identify with the characters. Jeff is every pervy and slightly social inept guy rolled into one. This is sometimes repeated on UKTV Gold an is well worth a watch if you want a great dialogue based show rather than one based on more slapstick physical comedy. Will be reviewing series 2 and 3 shortly
INTRODUCTION Being born in 1969, I have a huge fondness for the 1970s. This extends to one of my great loves – British comedy. I love the Carry On films, Terry and June, George and Mildred, Are You Being Served? and Man About The House. For me, the 1970s produced sitcom after sitcom and film after film that captures the best of the British comedic tradition. It still remains funny today, as has been proved by my children who love those programmes and films too, despite being born in the 1990s. There have been several British sitcoms since that I have enjoyed, but they have failed to capture my imagination in the same way – until I discovered Coupling. No, that isn’t a euphemism for sex, it’s a BBC sitcom. It has been compared to Friends, but I can’t stand that. Then again, I believe the last decent thing on American TV was Charlie’s Angels! Coupling will be going into its fourth series next year and the first three are already available on DVD. This review concentrates on the DVD of the first series. CAST AND CHARACTERS Coupling concentrates on a group of six thirty-something characters, who are all either friends, partners or exes – and sometimes all three at once. The three men are Patrick (Ben Miles), Jeff (Richard Coyle) and Steve (Jack Davenport). The three women are Susan (Sarah Alexander), Jane (Gina Bellman) and Sally (Kate Isitt). Patrick is a Tory, but he can be forgiven because he is so ‘well hung’ that he is described as a ‘tripod’! He can be rather over-confident to the point of arrogance and is often sexist in his views, but this leads to many funny moments. Jeff is Welsh. He is my favourite character, he is unique and sees the world from a very different viewpoint to everyone else. He is very prone to saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, which leads to him being in bizarre situations which just spiral further
and further out of control. They also make him incredibly cute and endearing. He also comes out with the best phrases, which have since been adopted into our household’s vocabulary! Steve is probably the most ‘normal’ of the group, as he is generally a good bloke, trying to live his life as most blokes want to – lots of sex, a few beers and a friendly chat down the pub with his mates. He is usually fairly controlled and balanced, but ever so often, he goes off on a long rant, which is highly amusing! Susan is the most normal of the women. She is blonde, beautiful and petite. She is relaxed, honest and open about sex and loves gossiping with her girl friends. She is confident, amusing and friendly. Jane is bisexual, which means she goes out with straight men, women and erm, gay men. She is ditsy, flighty, hyperactive, naive and often on another planet. She often acts in quite a babyish manner, which can be in turns beguiling and irritating. She feels she is very sensitive and in tune with her inner self – but she never quite sees things in the same way as everyone else. Sally is a beautician and is obsessed with her physical appearance and trying to prevent the signs of ageing. She can be neurotic and regularly over-reacts to things. She also has a habit of saying things out loud, without meaning to. The cast is excellent. They are all completely believable and their comic timing is perfect. It would be hard to imagine Coupling without one of the main six, so hopefully they will continue to work together. The combination of these six actors and Steven Moffat’s inspired writing is a winning one. STYLE The opening credits are bright and colourful, with a kind of 1960s feel to them. Squares in bright colours move across a dark blue background. The music is Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps by Mari Wilson and is perfect for the programme – light, perky and happy. Th
e scenes are usually set in only a few places, mainly the pub but also their houses, work places and social gatherings. There are few other characters in the episodes, with a large proportion of the dialogue going to the six main characters. It all has a very real feel to it, despite the absurdity of the situations. EPISODES The DVD has the six episodes of the first series on. Here are résumés of each one. ~ FLUSHED ~ This is the first episode ever, so the characters are introduced, which makes it slightly less funny than future episodes – but only slightly. In this one, Steve is trying to finish with Jane, who isn’t letting him. Meanwhile, Patrick is trying to finish with Susan – but she had assumed they hadn’t been having a proper relationship anyway, as they only had sex once a week. As the lines between ‘going out’ and ‘finished’ blur, Steve ends up having to deal with having two girlfriends at the same time. As he faces them both at the restaurant, Susan also has to deal with her exes (Jeff and Patrick) while Sally is now going out with Patrick. Somehow, it seems the whole situation can only be resolved by one thing – a flash of Susan’s right breast! ~ SIZE MATTERS ~ Susan invites Steve over for dinner – but is that really just an invitation for sex? Meanwhile, Patrick invites Sally out to a motor show with him – but she refuses, telling him she would never want to have sex with him. Then Susan tells Sally just where Patrick’s ‘donkey’ nickname came from. Somehow, the dating game becomes more and more complicated. When Jane turns up with her date, who is actually gay, the bizarre situations continue. Meanwhile Steve is on a promise – but just how big was Susan’s ex? And why does everyone want Jeff to go to the toilet with Patrick? And what on earth do Mariella F
rostrup and Angus Deayton have to do with everything? ~ SEX, DEATH AND NUDITY ~ Jeff has a job interview, but he is nervous about it. Patrick suggests he imagines the interview panel naked, to calm his nerves. Jeff practices this with some interesting results, as everyone around him becomes naked in his imagination. Meanwhile, Jane’s aunt has died and Jane wants Steve to go to the funeral with her for support. But she also wants him to pose as her boyfriend, as she hasn’t told her family about them breaking up. But Susan isn’t happy about it and wants to go to the funeral too. It all gets very complicated and all six of them end up going. So how will going to a funeral affect Jeff, when he is seeing naked bodies all around him? And just how funny can a funeral be? This episode contains one of my favourite scenes – the Reservoir Dogs bit. ~ INFERNO ~ Steve walks in to his flat, to find Susan cleaning it. But does this mean she has seen the tape that had been in the VCR – the intriguingly named Lesbian Spank Inferno? To overcome their embarrassment, Steve tells Susan he loves her and Susan suggests they throw a dinner party. Jane is having problems coping without her psychoanalyst, Jill. So much so, that she invites her to the dinner party, where the others assume they are having a lesbian relationship. Meanwhile, everyone is trying not to mention the notorious porn video – but failing miserably. ~ THE GIRL WITH TWO BREASTS ~ This is my favourite episode in the first series and one I never tire of watching. Jeff eyes up a beautiful woman in the pub. She appears to be sending out the right signals too. When he finally plucks up the courage to go over and talk to her, he discovers she is from Israel and can’t understand English. Just as well – as Jeff has just told her he collects women’s ears in a bucket! This is an es
pecially clever episode, because part of it is played twice – once from his point of view and once from hers. Both of them therefore get to speak in English for one section and in Hebrew for the other. Wonderful, just wonderful. ~ THE CUPBOARD OF PATRICK’S LOVE ~ Jane turns up at Patrick’s, convinced there is a ‘wall’ between them. She feels he is lonely and she wants to help him – by sleeping with him! Wandering around the room, she comes across Patrick’s cupboard where he keeps a collection of videos of him having sex with his previous girlfriends. So somewhere, there must be a video of him making love to Susan. But who owns the rights to such a tape – her ex, Patrick or her present boyfriend, Steve? Steve tells the blokes he is going to propose to Susan – but only once he knows what her answer will be. She is trying not to answer, before he actually asks. Meanwhile, Sally and Jane are devastated that they haven’t managed to get into Patrick’s video collection. Sally feels it is especially urgent, because her looks are gradually going and she wants to be immortalised while she still looks wrinkle-free. Could one simple video tape really be responsible for splitting up the group of six friends? RATING This DVD is rated a 15, but to be honest, we have let our thirteen-year-old daughter and eleven-year-old son watch it – and they love it too. It certainly appeals to my son’s ‘going through puberty’ state of mind! But I suggest you watch it first, before deciding if it is suitable for your children, as it contains some swearing, mild nudity and lots of sexual references - although nothing is ever shown explicitly. OVERALL You really need to know about The Zone, The Sock Gap, The Giggle Loop and The Nudity Buffer. No, you really do. You’ll wonder how you ever coped before, without knowing these
useful phrases you can now throw into everyday conversation. Each episode is hilarious and you will find yourself laughing out loud, even after repeated viewing. The writing is so witty and clever and the actors are so talented, that everything flows beautifully and it is easy to get into it. It feels like being a fly on the wall observing six people who are good friends. Not only are they friends with each other, they also seem to become your friends too and you care about them. You wince and cringe when Jeff comes out with yet another ridiculous comment. You wait for Jane to get the wrong end of the stick yet again, wondering how long it’ll be, before she finally understands. You want the relationships to work out, the sex to be great and everyone to be happy. A lot of the humour comes from the differences between the sexes. My daughter and I often relate to things the women do and say, while my husband and son look on blankly – and vice versa. The social observations are very well done and are usually recognisable to your own experiences – although they are taken to the Nth degree to create the bizarre and hilarious situations. It covers friendships, relationships, love and sex, as well as the differences between genders. There are no weak episodes; each one is great and well worth watching. Of course, everyone has favourites and some lines or scenes work better than others do, but overall, I can assure you that Coupling is brilliant! EXTRAS Normally, I would be loath to buy a DVD if it contained no extras. This is different though. The episodes themselves are reason enough to buy the DVD and you hardly notice the lack of extras. This DVD came out in 2001 and the subsequent issues do have extras – the second series only minimal, but there is a wider range of features on the DVD of the third series. INFORMATION Coupling – The Complete First Series is available
from Play.com for £8.99, from Choices Direct for £16.99 and from DVD Plus for £11.87. We bought ours from Play. The DVD contains all six episodes of the first series (each with opening and closing credits) and it lasts 174 minutes in total. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!