Posted by: Paul | November 24, 2010

The Trip

I’ve held back from writing about this one for a few weeks to allow the series to bed in. After the first episode I really didn’t know what to make of it – I laughed, but I wasn’t sure yet if I was laughing at Coogan and Brydon, or with them – and it mattered.

The Trip is a six part BBC2 comedy series where Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon – or at least, semi-fictionalised versions of themselves, a la Curb Your Enthusiasm – travel the north of England eating in fine restaurants, ostensibly for an article Steve has been commissioned to write for the Observer Magazine. They drive, they talk, they drink, they eat, they behave lecherously towards women – and that’s it. But they would make the most entertaining dinner companions you’ve ever eaten with.

It’s a very simple idea. It is, basically, Coogan and Brydon being themselves with a bit of a meta-narrative thrown in – this version of Steve is trying to crack the US, or find something which will elevate him from the character(s) he’s best known for, doing some womanising along the way since his American girlfriend has dumped him and gone back home. Rob is along for the ride instead, but equally convinced of his own worth as part of the exercise, and in particular as a performer. They jest, they spar, they banter – they even have a ‘Caine-off’ at one point, impersonating the great actor in their different ways, and once you’re into the groove of the show it really is a joy to watch these two modern comic masters at their best. They bounce off each other, improvise, try to make the other corpse, before descending into mutual nitpicking and spiteful little jabs at the other’s career or abilities. I’d happily watch their entire trip unedited, I think.

So now I know the answer to my initial question – you’re doing both, laughing at and with them, often at the same time. It’s a bit like watching the ‘comedians’ among your friends establish running jokes they return to time after time, there’s that inside knowledge that makes you feel part of the scene. Directed by none other than Michael Winterbottom, this is a quality project all round, one which I highly recommend and fervently hope makes a return next year.

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Responses

  1. Love this, congratulations on unique, brilliant and sometimes moving series. watched all 4 episodes twice over last night. Especially liked the ‘Ray, don’t make me drink it’…..thankyou BBC

  2. Thanks for your comment, Jonas – if you liked the review then do check out my other comedy reviews from earlier in the year – Rev, Whites, Roger and Val among them. Select ‘Categories’ on the right and then ‘TV’.
    Thanks for visiting!
    Paul.

  3. Disappointing, watched 1st, and a bit of 2nd. Very mildly amusing but found something better to do as the food aspect reminded me to do the washing up. Both good comics, but badly written with low comedy value. Certainly the same clip repeated again and again is making me want to scream and this ad is the only reason why I won’t bother.
    Good Michael Caine impressions, but these have been around decades. Hardly advertises cutting edge comedy. They might as well order a roast parrot and ask if its dead.
    In fact why was that not done from the start, the dry humour is apparent but each episode could have had various restaurant based impression characters placed all over.

    Overall Rating:
    You can get tasty thick soup per person made from fresh ingredients and you get soup from vending machines.
    I think this was made by the BBC putting 20p in its comedy machine and pressing BUDGET CUP. Then watering it down to share between all its viewers (the ones that still tune in when realising there is a programme thats not a repeat).

    • Thanks for your comment, and thanks for reading, Mick!

      I do disagree with you though (as is apparent from the review). Like I said, I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first and as it’s gone on I think the show has got better and better (and funnier – episode 4 was the best so far). I also think it’s very subtly made – consider what it takes to edit a coherent narrative out of something which is clearly heavily improvised in places. It may be small in its focus and scope, but I think in this case less is definitely more!

  4. [...] news – because of the piece I wrote last week about The Trip, last week was the biggest ever week on the blog, and November has been the biggest month, thanks [...]

  5. Great review, am thoroughly enjoying the series.

    Wonder if I’ve spotted a clever in-joke: is the real Michael Caine providing the voice-over for Steve’s impression? Sometimes the sync is a bit off. I think I spotted a genuine Anthony Hopkins too, and wonder how many more there are. It would be a great piquant twist to the pair’s sparring over whose is the better impression!

  6. I am trying to find the name of the outro track at the end of each episode. I looked on the website but couldn’t find it, canyou help me. I love the program incidentally, I actually think it’s one of the best comedies since The Office.

    • Thanks for visiting, Danny. I’d say it was specially composed incidental music if there was a music credit at the end, but there isn’t (other than ‘Additional Sound’). That and the fact that it also sounds vaguely familiar…you could try emailing Baby Cow, they might be able to help?

  7. [...] The busiest day of the year was November 30th with 106 views. The most popular post that day was The Trip. [...]


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