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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film - Michael Bodey

IN a for­mer life as a beered-up, over­reach­ing com­edy re­viewer for the Mel­bourne street press pub­li­ca­tion Reel Time, I had the plea­sure of meet­ing Matt King and Alan Davies.

King was an ami­able enough stand-up co­me­dian whose la­conic na­ture sug­gested he’d stay in his adopted home­land. He was al­most as chilled on stage as Dave Hughes.

King left Mel­bourne and the next time I saw him he was pop­ping up as an ac­tor in Bri­tish movies Rock­n­Rolla and Bron­son and the tele­vi­sion com­edy se­ries Peep Show.

Davies was the hottest young Bri­tish co­me­dian for a mo­ment. That said, the ti­tle of ‘‘hottest young Bri­tish co­me­dian’’ tends to change ev­ery six months and, boy, were a few of them in the late 1990s right twats. Oh look, one of them’s tour­ing here soon, too.

Any­way, Davies wasn’t a prat; he’s as lik­able off screen as on, al­though Davies al­ways comes across far bet­ter as him­self, on panel pro­grams such as QI, rather than as an ac­tor ( Jonathan Creek).

King and Davies are to­gether in the Bri­tish se­ries Whites (M, Uni­ver­sal, 183min, $24.95), King as the se­ries cowriter and cre­ator, Davies as its star. The BBC se­ries comes to DVD here af­ter a brief TV run. It was can­celled in Bri­tain af­ter its first sea­son, al­though the more for­giv­ing would sug­gest that was be­cause it was a vic­tim of a BBC bud­get squeeze.

The jury will re­main out be­cause Whites is the kind of com­edy that could have done with an­other se­ries. It feels like a hal­frisen souf­fle.

The com­edy fea­tures Davies as Roland, a head chef who is more wor­ried about his in­abil­ity to jump on the celebrity chef gravy train than about his nightly menu.

Again, Davies is cast a lit­tle oddly. Roland is a bit of a louche who waltzes in and out of lik­a­bil­ity. He’s sur­rounded by a bunch of comedic mis­fits in the kitchen, with the foil be­ing his restau­rant man­ager, played beau­ti­fully by Kather­ine Parkin­son.

Whites is not flat-out funny or dra­matic enough to be com­pelling but it is agree­able. It rep­re­sents kitchen dy­nam­ics well al­though TV view­ers are au fait with that and we know real celebrity chefs who are more charis­matic. In a way, some may feel Whites could have pushed fur­ther into par­ody or satire. But who’s to force am­bi­tion on some­one else’s cre­ation? It’s just good to see King and Davies again.

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