The Thick Of It: Series 3 review (DVD)

Back post-In the Loop success, The Thick Of It has a new dynamic to keep things fresh. The government may be shuffling deckchairs on the Titanic, but the series gets a boot up the backside with the introduction of new MP Nicola Murray, played by Rebecca Front (The Day Today, Big Train, Nighty Night). Nicola has been cajoled into taking the post of Secretary of State for Social Affairs and Citizenship. She’s “kind of a late-ish appointment.” In other words: they asked everyone else first, and everyone else said no.

It’s still got the same deliciously cringe-inducing feel, lampooning politics and politicians in such a searingly droll manner as to rival Peep Show in the will-make-you-cry-behind-your-hands stakes. With the election looming, there’s a vague sense of tension brewing in this series, but it’s the quieter goings-on in government that are really the ripest targets for the kind of satire The Thick of It pulls off. Anyone can take the piss out of an election speech. This show makes comedy hay out of everything, from press briefings and radio appearances to conversations about office furniture.

And then there’s the swearing. Oh, the swearing. One of the great joys of The Thick of It is the way it uses profanities: frequently, gleefully, but cleverly. As stand-up comedians have protested for years, we’re always told that swear words are utilised by people with small vocabularies. Sometimes, they can indeed be funny and clever, especially when they’re coming from the mouth of Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), the “all-swearing eye” whose outbursts have come to characterise The Thick of It. One of Malcolm’s trademark moves is, after waiting to speak to one person, to always suddenly have an important phone call going on, just so there’s no danger of anyone feeling remotely important in his presence.

It’s not all about Malcolm, though; indeed there are chinks appearing in his armour this series. It has much to say about the current government and its weaknesses and screw-ups, and prospective parliamentary candidates would do well to watch The Thick of It. Especially the bits that involve politicians talking to journalists, including when they’re “ambushed by not-on-the-record journalists”. Everyone else should watch it too just because it’s fucking brilliant.

EXTRAS ★★★ Deleted scenes; audio commentaries on five episodes; and eight Out of the Thick of It webisodes (one per episode) which contain a mixture of extra scenes, deleted scenes and, in some cases, interviews.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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