Tommy Saxondale (Steve Coogan) was once a roadie for all the greats; Purple, Floyd, Genesis. Back then youth culture meant counter-culture, and refusing to conform to the suburban dream. Now Tommy's a pest controller in Stevenage and living in suburbia, but he's still railing against the system. Only these days the system means blokes in suits who listen to Dido. Following Tommy's hostile divorce, he met his soulmate in Magz (Ruth Jones), who runs "Smash the System"; the t-shirt shop that keeps authority figures running scared, usually by selling images of them smoking a joint. Completing Tommy's surrogate family is his young lodger Raymond (Rasmus Hardicker); pest control trainee and uncomprehending disciple of Tommy's worldly wisdom. Being self-educated, Tommy often feels that he's surrounded by idiots. Like when he has to visit Vicky (Morwenna Banks) who dispenses work contracts and gross insult. Vicky is just one of the many reasons why Tommy's anger management therapy sessions won't be ending any time soon. Through it all, Tommy Saxondale is still the smartest and the dumbest guy in the room.
- Saxondale: Series 1 review by Count Otto Black
(0) of (0) members found this review helpful.
You rated this film: 2
Steve Coogan is one of the funniest men on the planet, and I'm a huge fan. That being said, he's not infallible. The acid test of any comedy series is how often you laugh, and I laughed so seldom while watching this first disc that I can't be bothered to watch the second one. Coogan did a series in which every week he played a lesser comedy character who was good for 30 minutes of humor but no more, and ideally Tommy Saxondale should have been part of that series, because he's basically a feeble rip-off of Alan Partridge.
Partridge is a D-list celeb who hangs out with a fascinating gaggle of similar entirely fictional people, some of whom are even worse than he is. And that's funny. Saxondale is an ex-roadie for real early seventies rock stars, most of whom are still alive, so the BBC can't afford to have them on the show, and when he talks about them, he has to be very careful in case they sue. And that's not terribly funny. Partridge is, as Coogan himself put it, not gay but terrified that he might be, so the many scenes in which, for some wildly implausible reason, he's placed in a very gay situation to which he reacts with a mixture of abject fear and horrified fascination are hilarious. Saxondale is moderately embarrassed about being sexually attracted to overweight women, but because laughing at people for being fat isn't really all that funny, the whole running gag is oddly muted, and his partner is nowhere near big or unattractive enough for it to be implausible that a rather dim middle-aged pest controller needs to have a rampant fat fetish to live with her.
And so on. It's all a bit weak. His anger management classes are curiously irrelevant, given how seldom he loses his temper, even in the scene where he shoots somebody non-fatally with a low-power air-gun under circumstances where I personally would have done a lot worse. And some of his funniest monologues are very out of character, because we're looking at Steve Coogan ceasing to pretend to be stupid so that he can be genuinely witty, even if Tommy Saxondale shouldn't really be that clever. His sidekick is a complete waste of space who exists to have things said at him, and Morwenna Banks, who has struggled to become a comedy star for about 30 years without quite managing it, shows exactly why she's failed and will never succeed by not understanding the difference between playing an irritating comedy character such as Sybil Fawlty and actually being irritating. Thankfully she's not in it very much.
This is a major misfire from an entertainer you can forgive because he's usually much better. If the idea of Steve Coogan playing a fool with bad dentures who fancies fat ladies and has a vague connection with Jethro Tull instantly floods your trousers with uncontrollable humor urine, you'll love this. Otherwise, maybe not.