sun 25/10/2020

Friday Night Dinner, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews

Friday Night Dinner, Channel 4

Friday Night Dinner, Channel 4

New family sitcom has a slow start but is worth sticking with

For those not of Jewish heritage and who may not know the significance of the title, Friday-night dinner is the hub of a Jewish family’s week, when they gather together for a special dinner and prayers. It’s a (very) rough cultural equivalent of a Sunday roast or the Thanksgiving meal, and even for many non-religious Jews who dispense with the traditional menu and prayers, there’s a three-line whip on attendance.

Creator and writer Robert Popper grew up in a non-religious north-London Jewish family and freely admits Friday Night Dinner is about his family, if a little exaggerated for comic effect. But whereas the Jewishness of Simon Amstell’s family in Grandma’s House was central to the plot, here it’s an incidental detail - indeed the Goodmans’ Friday-night dinner is a roast, with crumble to follow.

Popper’s impressive CV includes writing or editing on a raft of quality comedy shows including Spaced, Look Around You, The Inbetweeners, The IT Crowd and Peep Show, a track record that has enabled him to assemble a terrific cast: Tamsin Greig (Green Wing, Episodes) and Paul Ritter (Pulling) are Jackie and Martin Goodman, and Simon Bird (The Inbetweeners) and newcomer Tom Rosenthal their twentysomething sons Adam and Jonny, while Mark Heap (Green Wing, Lark Rise to Candleford) is their pervy neighbour, Jim.

In last night’s opening episode, the Goodman family dynamic was quickly established; Jackie is constantly after Martin to do something around the house, while he’s a little bit odd (eating food out of the bin, for example) and irascible. Adam and Jonny perpetually bicker, Jackie is trying get a girl for the slightly nebbish younger son Adam, and Jonny has a girlfriend who is yet to be introduced at Friday-night dinner. Jim, meanwhile, was popping around every five minutes to use their loo because for some undisclosed reason his own was out of action. Equally unexplained was why his scary-looking dog was with him each time.

The Goodmans argue, talk over one another, finish each other’s sentences and have the private jokes beloved of all close-knit groups: "Hmm, nice bit of squirrel," says Martin of Jackie's roast beef. Most of the laughs come from Adam and Jonny’s constant practical jokes on each other and their bickering  - “Why can’t Pus Face here do it?” - is the latter’s response to his father’s request to fetch something, while Martin’s favoured curse, “Shit on it”, shows every sign of being used copiously in the series. It certainly provided the punchline at the end of the opener, where the physical comedy involving moving a sofabed down the stairs wasn’t quite in the Harold Lloyd league.

It’s unfair to judge a sitcom by its first episode as the characters need to unfold over a few weeks, but Friday Night Dinner's dialogue, while it has some funny lines, isn’t exactly sparkling and very little actually happened last night. It’s too early to tell if that’s the script or Steve Bendelack’s direction - the important thing, though, is that I’m interested to know where this is going, so will tune in again.

Watch the trailer for Friday Night Dinner



This is the best show I've seen in ages, understated but subtle and hilariously funny!

garbage nothing more. Poor Poor script acting. Cast of characters are fools in any denomination.

your sentence doesn't even make sense! at least if you are going to criticise make sure you do it in English!

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