Fri­day Por­ridge 9.30pm, BBC One

Sunday Herald Life - - TELEVISION & RADIO -

NO. None of us are fit to lick Dick Cle­ment and Ian La Fre­nais’s type­writer, but this is trag­i­cally wrong. Strip­ping one of the Bri­tish sit­com’s key themes – characters trapped to­gether by life – to its essence, the orig­i­nal 1970s Por­ridge, set in­side the vi­tal, uni­ver­sal con­fine­ment of Slade Prison, re­mains one the high peaks of the genre. Cle­ment and La Fre­nais’s scripts were all crack­ling lines, wickedly and poignantly ob­served hu­man in­ter­ac­tion and sur­rep­ti­tious so­cial cri­tique. Above all, though, it was the way Ron­nie Barker played the lines – he was the Brando of Brit­com. But where Barker just flowed, ev­ery­thing in this pale se­quel/re­make is just forced. The show un­der­scores its re­dun­dancy by en­cour­ag­ing Kevin Bishop into a bizarre, dis­tract­ing Barker/Fletch im­i­ta­tion as “Fletch’s grand­son,” then saws its other foot off by cast­ing poor Mark Bon­nar as a Mr McKay stand-in “Scot­tish Warder.” This ain’t Por­ridge. This is barely muesli.

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