TV Review: Puppy Love, Episode 2, BBC4

Puppy Love

Sitcoms have a habit of swerving off in a direction you can’t necessarily predict from the first episode. That was definitely with the case of Detectorists, which preceded Puppy Love in the same slot. And now this week's second episode of the doggy comedy drama has me more confused that ever. 

In particular I’m confused about why it is on BBC4. The digital channel used to be known for smart, sophisticated programming, but Puppy Love is pretty down to earth. Maybe the writers and stars Joanna Scanalan and Vicki Pepperdine were approached by the channel because they had previously had success there with Getting On.

But Puppy Love could not be more different to their hospital sitcom. In this second episode we get to know Nana (Scanlan) and Naomi (Pepperdine) a little better but we don’t find a lot of emotional depth there. Dog trainer Nana is still chasing men she can’t have (Alex from last week seems to have completely disappeared), while social worker Naomi (Pepperdine) is as harrassed as ever.

This is pretty smutty for a BBC4 comedy. Nana’s grandson Eron and Naomi’s daughter Jasmine have very quickly become an item: “You're like Ryan O’Neal and Ally McBeal”, says Nana like a latterday hilda Ogden when she catches them in bed. There’s a running gag about a flashing bra and Naomi is quick to offer contraceptive tips which is always good for an easy laugh.

 In fairness there is also a lovely tender scene when Nana rubs talcum powder into obese ex-hubby Tony’s creases, but the Wirral-set series seems peppered with cheap gags. This week there’s a comedy jobsworth copper played by Kayvan Novak and even a gag about hiding knock-off gear when the police come around, which won’t do much for the reputation of Liverpudlians. Sorry to harp on about this, but with its dodgy characters and oddball families, for a BBC4 series Puppy Love is most like ancient BBC1 hit Bread. Funny yes. On the wrong channel? Most definitely.

Watch Puppy Love on iPlayer here.

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