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.