'Mid Morning Matters' offers an excruciatingly awkward window into the world of Alan Partridge, reconfirming why he is considered one of British comedy's iconic characters. This second series sees the master at work as he broadcasts his daily radio show at the fictional North Norfolk Digital to literally hundreds of listeners. Whether reprimanding a celebrity chef for the use of fennel in a recipe, or making history by having a massage live on air, Alan never fails to push the boundaries of broadcasting and, more often than not, good taste.
It is an ex-partridge; it has ceased to be...
- Alan Partridge: Mid Morning Matters: Series 2 review by Count Otto Black
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Alan Partridge is one of the great comedy characters, and will forever figure in Top Tens that include the likes of Basil Fawlty, David Brent, Captain Mainwaring and Father Ted. But there comes a time when every such character has to be retired, and I'm afraid Steve Coogan doesn't seem to know when to stop flogging a dead game-bird.
"Knowing Me, Knowing You" worked because Alan Partridge constantly interacted with many other even more outrageous characters. "I'm Alan Partridge" worked on a more subtle level because it dealt with every aspect of his life as a Z-list celebrity who thought he was at least D-list. The surprise hit movie worked because it was about an unexceptional man trapped in a very dramatic situation he's totally unqualified to cope with. And all of them worked because Alan Partridge is completely blind to the fact that he's about as good at any form of broadcasting as Mister Bean is at brain surgery.
This disappointing no-budget continuation doesn't work because it's simply Alan Partridge sitting in a very small room being bad at his job, mostly accompanied only by "Sidekick Simon" (Tim Key), whose main contribution is to sit at the back making faces to emphasize how inappropriate Alan's comments are. His guests are pale reflections of the ones from "Knowing Me, Knowing You" to the point where a couple of them are watered-down versions of the same characters, and one is even played by the same actor. And his impatience with everybody he's talking to, mostly disembodied listeners' voices on the phone, is counterproductive because cutting people off before they've had a chance to make their point stops being funny by the fourth repetition at very most, while depriving him of the chance to properly interact with potentially interesting comic foils.
The jokes are mostly very lazy, and go on far too long. Middle-aged men tryin 2 get down wid da yoof isn't exactly original, even for Alan Partridge, and Steve Coogan should be enough of a pro to know that convincingly acting drunk is incredibly difficult unless you actually get drunk on camera, which he obviously didn't. Even the ever-present running gag about Alan being stuck in a time-warp doesn't work as well as it used to, because some of what he says is so retro that lengthy explanations for feeble one-liners have to be clumsily inserted into the dialogue for the benefit of viewers too young to know what he's referencing.
The last episode even features a sequence in which heavy snow stops most of North Norfolk Digital's staff from getting to work, meaning that Alan has to present an entire day's programs all by himself, and ends up completely running out of anything whatsoever to say. This, along with the feel-good finish (remember the old days, when he might end a series by accidentally killing one of his guests?), strongly implies that Steve Coogan knows Alan Partridge has run out of steam, and he won't be back in any significant way. Unless of course Hollywood opens its boundless cheque-book once more...