mon 26/08/2019

Mum, BBC Two, series 2 finale review - the perfect way to go | reviews, news & interviews

Mum, BBC Two, series 2 finale review - the perfect way to go

Mum, BBC Two, series 2 finale review - the perfect way to go

Lesley Manville and co should quit their unimprovable sitcom while they're ahead

Cathy declares herself: Lesley Manville in 'Mum'BBC/Big Talk Productions

Should Mum end here? There have been only two series on BBC Two, and it closed the second with all the characters poised for the next step. A third series has been commissioned, so there will be the opportunity to see what happens next for Cathy and Michael now they’ve hugged and, for the second time, held hands. In Spain they might even get round to kissing. But the bitter-sweet comedy of romantic yearning is one thing and fulfilment not the same at all. The dread precedent in sitcom is Niles and Daphne finally getting together in Frasier. The show was never the same again. Let's see.

Mum was a comedy whose subject was fear, loss, loneliness, grief and saintly love. This wasn’t always clear because Stefan Golaszewski smeared his scripts in a thick coating of grotesquerie: the stupidity of Kelly and Jason, the uncontrolled snobbery of Pauline, the world-weariness of elderly stick-in-the-muds Reg and Maureen. Pauline’s rage has seethed and spat so venomously that at times she and Kelly, so superhumanly moronic, seemed to be vying to see who could get away with being the more implausible gargoyle. Come on, react, you wanted to say to Cathy, who smiled and benignly kept her counsel.

Mum, BBC TwoBut even Mum’s monsters nursed heartache in their soul. Reg’s fear of the end, the cruelty of Kelly’s mother, Jason’s Oedipal terror of losing his mother, the anguish of Pauline’s abandonment by her husband and loss of social status. The sofa scene in which Derek kept asking for a cuddle while Pauline stared off into a world of pain could have been scripted by Strindberg, apart from the bit about the porn.

Stefan Golaszewski is a playwright in another life, and it showed. He also directed this second series, which gave him the difficult problem of what to do with Michael, who barely ever got beyond the hallway until he disappeared traumatised into the loo. The hug in the penultimate episode, and Cathy’s declaration of love, have been so long in coming they rival the delayed climax in Tristan und Isolde. In fact Mum outdoes Wagner, who needed only four hours to get to the ecstasy. Mum needed six.

Mum, BBC TwoEvery actor became their character. Lesley Manville and Peter Mullan did so little and yet so much while everyone else got away with a lot: Dorothy Atkinson as Pauline and Ross Boatman as Derek (pictured left), Karl Johnson as Reg and Marlene Sidaway as Maureen, Lisa McGrillis as Kelly and Sam Swainsbury as Jason.

The series ended at the perfect place, with even Pauline discovering that what really makes her happy is not Radio Four, the Tate and Kent - her empty, tormenting aspirational front - but a delinquent yob with a history of violence. Reg danced, and Maureen didn't die, though they missed the fireworks. The obvious next development is a baby for Jason and Kelly, who would thereby earn eponymous billing. At the start of the series I mistakenly assumed Kelly was pregnant as she seemed to be snacking her way through Cathy’s cupboards. It turns out she was just unthinkingly (which is very much Kelly’s style) eating Cathy out of house and home. Unimprovable.

@JasperRees

Mum was a comedy whose subject was fear, loss, loneliness, grief and saintly love

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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Comments

Brilliant, Lesley Manville andPeter Mullen are very clever actors.

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