Author Topic: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop  (Read 2004 times)

The Mollusk

  • I spoke with fervour, embracing the evening
"A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« on: July 22, 2020, 03:31:54 PM »
Just finished what will be my third total watch-through of this, and was very pleased to see how well it's held up over the years. It has dated a bit badly in a couple of aspects, such as the fucking dreadful abrasive dubstep stings between scenes, as well as other cultural and sociopolitical subjects like the very occasional iffy transgender joke or how bizarrely innocent Twitter used to be perceived less than a decade ago, but honestly on the whole I'd say it's still really good.

It's consistently funny, in fact it's often VERY funny, owed almost entirely to the cast who apply themselves brilliantly to their characters, the majority of whom have a very strong identifiable presence. I'd say Janine is definitely the weakest link and they could have done a lot more with her. The show has some inconsistencies with continuity and Janine's quirky neuroses are a key example. Her ambiguous relationship with Jerwayne, for example, has a couple of very fleeting mentions but is never brought to light. Similarly she has a whole scene in an early season about having absolutely no physical contact with anyone, but this goes totally out the window with nary a mention a few episodes down the line.

Anyway. Jerwayne and Ashley's relationship is brilliant, and Ashley is definitely my favourite character. Pretty much all of his lines will at least get a smile out of me and his physical acting is top notch. Just sitting here thinking about his first date technique of the "brave little smile" has got me laughing. In fact the whole scene is fucking excellent.

Also extra shoutouts to Kayvan Novak for his Razz Prince role. He's only in a couple of episodes but the energy of his performances is fucking insane, almost exhausting. I think everyone's worked under someone like that at some point in their lives, especially in retail, but the absurd lengths to which he takes that character are just perfect. The scene where he's singing "Gold" by Spandau Ballet while Christopher is trying to jump up and grab the £5 note stuck to the wall is just ridiculous, I love it.

Famous Mortimer

  • War - it's fantastic!
    • International Syndicate of Cult Film Critics
Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2020, 03:43:58 PM »
It's really really good, you're right. I remember trying to blag a PhoneShop mug off Channel 4 at the time. Jerwayne and Ashley are a fantastic double-act.

Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2020, 04:25:18 PM »
I really like Janine's hand acting. She's always doing this sort of graceful wafting that I find very endearing.

And yes, Razz Prince is just gleefully stupid. "Opal fruit days! Oh my days. That is a long time ago when Snickers was known as Opal Fruits. I remember that."

Phoneshop went largely uncelebrated, as far as I can tell. Nobody I mention it to has seen it, and I don't think you can even buy the third series on DVD?

The Mollusk

  • I spoke with fervour, embracing the evening
Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2020, 04:49:29 PM »
I really like Janine's hand acting. She's always doing this sort of graceful wafting that I find very endearing.

There’s a bit in (I think) the first series where she tells Christopher she used to be a hand model and then demonstrates a couple of poses, one of which is basically identical to the one Laura Palmer does in the Black Lodge on Twin Peaks. I sorely hope that was intentional as it got a big smile out of me the other night.

Captain Z

  • Oh yeah my cholesterol's going down
Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2020, 06:05:46 PM »
I rewatched it for the third or fourth time recently because I found the pilot episode that I'd never previously seen. It covers Chris' one-day trial and while it's not that important to the storyline, it does make the other characters' indifference to Chris' arrival in episode 1 seem a little more natural. I can upload it in the next few days if anyone's interested.

pigamus

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Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2020, 06:13:15 PM »
Yeah it was brilliant. Maybe dropped off a bit in Series 3, but nobody watched that.

The Mollusk

  • I spoke with fervour, embracing the evening
Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2020, 06:22:21 PM »
Yeah it was brilliant. Maybe dropped off a bit in Series 3, but nobody watched that.

Series 3 is still very decent - probably mostly on par with series 2, in all honesty - and if anything it's worth it alone for the last episode.

"Do the music."

Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2020, 06:24:35 PM »
Loved this a lot. Still very often hear "ARE YOU SAYIN DOG HAD A THING FOR MAN" in my head , same with "A OWL". Must have been made for fuck all for something with such low attention to get that many series.

Captain Z

  • Oh yeah my cholesterol's going down
Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2020, 06:27:00 PM »
Chris' drugged-up acting in the Baking Bad episode is another highlight for me.

Oh and Chris playing 'Lenny' in the restaurant.

Also, they've tried to slip the word 'cunt' into every episode, haven't they? I think there's only one or two where I can't spot it.

The Mollusk

  • I spoke with fervour, embracing the evening
Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2020, 06:47:20 PM »
Also, they've tried to slip the word 'cunt' into every episode, haven't they? I think there's only one or two where I can't spot it.

Yeah the overuse of the word "cunt" is annoying, to be honest. Swearing is best when it's not done to death. "Cunt" is a great word but they could have cut its usage down by like 80%.

"ARE YOU SAYIN DOG HAD A THING FOR MAN"

Ashley freaking out about that dog is deffo the peak of that character, he's incredible through that whole episode. Love the bit where the others sit him down to try and get him to recount all his interactions with the dog and he describes it lying back with its knob out by gesturing his arm out and going "pfffhhhh".

Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2020, 07:14:47 PM »
Thanks for the prompt about this. Haven't seen it for maybe 5 or 6 years. Just started now.

For me it's not Janine (although her character is a bit underwritten and contradictory from what I remember) but Christopher who grates on me. Seems to be channeling Ricky Gervais a bit too much. It must settle down though because it's a fantastic ensemble show.

Didn't realise how quickly "If man say him a ting then him a ting" came up. Something I often say to blank looks. Did no-one watch this?

Captain Z - would love to see the pilot if you can make it available. Was it a comedy lab ting (thing)?

[Edit to add correct right name cos that's how I roll]

non capisco

  • MAKE ROOM FOR THE MUSHROOOOOOOOMS!!
Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2020, 09:12:02 PM »
I remember really enjoying it but almost none of the finer details so definitely ripe for a rewatch. One of those ones where the ad campaign and generally terrible strike rate for new sitcoms around that time made me write it off as 'not for me' without even watching it, but then I saw a short clip of the scene where Martin Trenaman's boss character claims he's into reggae and then starts dancing about in the shop to the theme music from QI. Now, that sort of inspired daftness I can get behind.

Tom Bennett is brilliant in Whit Stillman's Jane Austen adaptation 'Love and Friendship', btw.

Better Midlands

  • I'm not internationally known
Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2020, 09:40:40 PM »
Captain Z - would love to see the pilot if you can make it available. Was it a comedy lab ting (thing)?

It's on YouTube, l didn't know it existed till a few months ago either

https://youtu.be/93RAnHmO3SE

I love the show, must have watched it through 4 or 5 times,  it's quotable as fuck as mentioned above

If man says him a ting, then him a ting

Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2020, 10:27:42 PM »
Cheers. Will watch that later. Just barrelled through series 1 now on 2. It's great I can hardly remember the detail as mentioned above.

Love that opening dialogue in S2E1 "5p carrier bag yes please. Give me 3 and a bag for life. Eat my lunch. Bin the lot SENSEless waste". So yep - agree it's endlessly quotable.

Think I was a bit harsh about Janine being underwriten. I think Emma Fryer as Janine might be perfect ASMR for me. I never believed in it before.

pigamus

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Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2020, 02:00:46 AM »
Emma Fryer is amazing. Those eyes! That voice!

Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2020, 07:21:34 AM »
I never bothered watching it, mainly because the white guy pretending to be black annoyed me too much. Maybe it's just a London ting.

Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2020, 08:16:50 AM »
"Do the music."

That's probably my favourite episode of any sitcom in the past decade.

Had completely passed me by that Phil Bowker has recently done Sliced on Dave. Anyone watch it?

Mobius

  • he who hingeth aboot getteth hee haw
Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2020, 08:42:39 AM »
Emma Fryer is amazing. Those eyes! That voice!

I like the way she says “Psycho Paaaauuuul” in Ideal

Phone Shop was so much better than the promotion for it made it seem. I can see why people would have been put off.

The Mollusk

  • I spoke with fervour, embracing the evening
Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2020, 09:00:48 AM »
I never saw the promotional material for it as I didn’t watch it when it aired but I can imagine it almost certainly pushed the intense/zany stuff and probably did a bad job of conveying how good the dialogue was and at times how oddly sweet it could be. There is a familial warmth between the central four characters, which only creeps through on occasion (most notably the brilliant series 1 finale “Soldier Swinger Shelley Shelley”) but it’s just enough to keep the show from veering into out-and-out wackiness.

Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2020, 09:16:30 AM »
Great show, succeeds at being completely stupid and only occasionally dips into grating territory for me. I thought about the Sleepy Man episode the other day for some reason, I think I was laughing at the portrayal of the Games Workshop employee. "Go fuck a goblin".

Martin Trenaman is always great value for money too, I ike his reverance for the lore of little Gary Patel. "That was on his day off too."

I never bothered watching it, mainly because the white guy pretending to be black annoyed me too much. Maybe it's just a London ting.

Fair enough, but I'd hope it's obvious how much of a doofus he's meant to be. Acting streetwise while being way too old to do so and being a bit bald.

Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2020, 09:19:58 AM »
"brave little smile"

Can't believe I overlooked that in my post, amazing. "And then pop it back up yeah?".

The Mollusk

  • I spoke with fervour, embracing the evening
Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2020, 09:25:42 AM »
Think I was a bit harsh about Janine being underwriten. I think Emma Fryer as Janine might be perfect ASMR for me. I never believed in it before.

I dunno, I still think she’s a bit underwritten. She’s just not as well developed as the other characters and I think she had a lot more potential to find real success, at least in one episode as a throwaway, as it’s something she was always striving for.

That said, there is a really lovely little moment at the end of one episode where she invented that horrible White Malcolm drink (lukewarm water with a splash of milk) that everyone hates. Her and Lance are sat drinking it and he says something like “I like it Janine, and if other people don’t, fuck ‘em.” Their chemistry together is always very sweet and funny.

Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #22 on: July 23, 2020, 09:46:20 AM »
For me it's not Janine (although her character is a bit underwritten and contradictory from what I remember) but Christopher who grates on me. Seems to be channeling Ricky Gervais a bit too much. It must settle down though because it's a fantastic ensemble show.

I've never seen this (I always thought it was a yoof comedy that I wouldn't understand all about phones and knife crime) but Tom Bennett basically does an impression of Ricky Gervais in the first series of "AP Bio"

FUCKINELL! His dad is Mr Bennett! From Take Hart!

Here he is doing an impression of Gilbert O'Sullivan


Better Midlands

  • I'm not internationally known
Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #23 on: July 23, 2020, 10:12:09 AM »
FUCKINELL! His dad is Mr Bennett! From Take Hart!

<timericmindexplosion.gif>

Utter Shit

  • Snotty Bumstead
Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #24 on: July 23, 2020, 10:39:29 AM »
Off the back of this thread I watched a couple of episodes last night and there is one fantastic bit I'd completely forgotten about. Lance is complaining that everyone finds him boring and Janine tries to calm him down by reminding him of his best anecdotes:

Lance: Which ones?
Janine: Cocky toddler!
Lance: Cocky toddler! Christ I went for him, didn't I! Shouldn't have done, could have got in a lot of trouble.



Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2020, 11:38:35 AM »
I dunno, I still think she’s a bit underwritten. She’s just not as well developed as the other characters and I think she had a lot more potential to find real success, at least in one episode as a throwaway, as it’s something she was always striving for.

That said, there is a really lovely little moment at the end of one episode where she invented that horrible White Malcolm drink (lukewarm water with a splash of milk) that everyone hates. Her and Lance are sat drinking it and he says something like “I like it Janine, and if other people don’t, fuck ‘em.” Their chemistry together is always very sweet and funny.

Yea  -  I know that you mean. She's a bit of a Phoebe from Friends character (but funny and all that rather than lolrandom and nasty) so I think less is more works well.

The bit where she is sitting on some steps with Shelly after the VIP Divorce party night and is slowly sick really made me laugh.


Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2020, 11:41:07 AM »
Can't believe I overlooked that in my post, amazing. "And then pop it back up yeah?".

They run that move through all the series and it never gets tired. Christopher's demented smile is fantastic.

I like it backfiring all the time like with the soldier (paraphrase):

Ash [setting up the move]- Do you like the films of Jude Law?
Date - Does he have a vagina?
Ash [grimaces] - such a harsh word


Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2020, 12:05:57 PM »
I never watched this at the time as I remember it looking shit from the trailers but I'm three episodes into the first series and it's already given me chuckles aplenty. Emma Fryer is absolutely stunning what the fuck?

Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #28 on: July 23, 2020, 12:23:54 PM »
REGGAE SAUCE got a big laugh from me

Re: "A OWL?" - Rewatching PhoneShop
« Reply #29 on: July 23, 2020, 12:41:49 PM »
Phoneshop's great. It's cool how much of it relies on very fine-grained aspects of rhythm and language - it's much more like Seinfeld than you'd think given the surrealism or the workplace setting.

Three great bits in that respect:
"manaman's a wagamama man" - the longest sequence of a single vowel sound separated by different consonants in UK TV history?
the bare context-dependence of negation: "Apple man, yeah? Maplin's girl, NO"
Ashley under pressure to name artists on Jerwayne's label, counting them off and realising where his inspiration's coming from - "fingerman, index, middz, err..."

It's a crime that you can't get the whole thing on DVD.

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