TV Review: The Trip The Greece – Sky One, A Correction

TV Review: The Trip The Greece – Sky One, A Correction
TV Review: The Trip The Greece – Sky One, A Correction
TV Review: The Trip The Greece – Sky One, A Correction

I'm going to do a thing that I don't think I've ever seen a critic do before. I'm going to say that my review was wrong. When I reviewed the first episode of the latest series of The Trip, set in Turkey and Greece, I wrote how I was disappointed by it. Having watched the first episode I felt that the tone had changed. There had always been a running theme about the rivalry between Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon but here I thought there was too much needle and nastiness. The joke wasn't all that funny any more.

But that review was only based on the opening episode. I'd not been keeping up with the series when it was broadcast, but during my enforced isolation over the weekend I sat down and watched the following five episodes back-to-back. I doubt if Coogan and Brydon will give two hoots what I think. Or whether this rave reassessment will make them decide to embark on another series. But I just wanted to set the record straight so I can sleep at night.

After the bitch-fest of the first instalment, our two intrepid gastronomic travellers seem to settle into a more humane, gentle rhythm. The ribbing is still there - about Rob eeing essentially a light entertainer and Steve wanting to do something more weighty – but it starts to feel kinder. Maybe their visit to the refugee camp at the end of episode one gave them a bit of perspective. It was a brief visit and the serious narrative thread isn't throroughly developed, but maybe it did have an effect on them.

The main reason the series gets better as it goes along is, of course, because it just gets funnier and funnier. Rob complaining about a visit to another set of ancient ruins: "Legoland costs a fortune but you get a lot for your money." Or Coogan touchily concerned about seeing the reflection of his chin in the metal dome placed over his food: "It wasn't a flattering angle."

And, of course there are those impressions. A reun of the Marathon Man Olivier/Hoffman dentist scene. Or a Godfather homage featuring DeNiro, Brando and then segueing into Ray Winstone as Henry VIII. The apotheosis is probably episode four in which we get Al Pacino, Woody Allen, Joe Pesci, Mick Jagger, David Frost and Rigsby in quick succession.

All of this and I'll never not enjoy hearing Rob Brydon's small man in a box. We also get a reprise of Steve Coogan's badly dubbed film dialogue which never fails to raise a smile. Plus some brilliant scenery and food that looked so good you wanted to reach into the screen and grab a plate. Or failing that pop to Tesco for a tub of Taramasalata.

But then on top of this, there is the more serious theme of mortality. If they aren't re-enacting Socrates being sentenced to death and taking hemlock they are talking about getting older themselves. Or there is Coogan on the phone to his son about his own dying father back in the UK.

One of the undercurrents of their banter is Coogan considering himself to be an actor rather than a comedian. In one memorable scene, maybe overplaying his Partridgesque lack of self-awareness, he reads out a Spectator review of his film Stan and Ollie and takes away from it the fact that it says he is a "brilliant actor" - overlooking the fact that the full quote read out by him is: "It's a good job Steve Coogan is a brilliant actor: he conveys Stan's likeability so well that for 97 minutes you forget what a self-regarding arse Coogan himself is in real life." 

But at the end Coogan is called upon to do some proper acting and he does it brilliantly. The series ends on a melancholy downbeat note. Brydon reunited with his wife on the beach, Coogan back in England with his family. Having initially dismissed the series, the conclusion was like one of their excellent meals. It left me wanting more.

The Trip To Greece, Sky One, Tuesdays, 10pm. Boxed set available on catch up and NOW TV.

Pictures: Sky

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