This was a strange one, I must admit. But it is truly excellent viewing I found. So, bare with me on this one.
I came about this show, due to it’s ‘sequel’ of sorts, in The Trip To Italy, which thus far I have thoroughly enjoy. (You should all definitely check it out). The Trip features Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon going round the North of England, eating in the North of England’s finest restaurants and reviewing them for The Observer. Here’s the kicker though, it’s not a documentary of them literally reviewing restaurant’s in England, it’s more of a ‘mockumentary’ where Coogan and Brydon are playing fictionalised versions of themselves.
The Trip is actually directed by Michael Winterbottom, who directed Coogan and Brydon in A Cock and Bull Story. Interestingly enough, they both play alter-ego’s of themselves, again fictionalised. Unfortunately I haven’t seen A Cock and Bull Story, but I am intrigued slightly due to my enjoyment taken from The Trip.
The initial premise is that Steve Coogan has been asked by The Observer to go and review restaurants that are claimed to be some of the best in England. His initial plan was to go with his girlfriend Misha, but she has plans that conflict with this. So Steve invites Rob Brydon, who agrees to go along with him. The brilliance in this comes from the chemistry that occurs between the both, although you can feel Coogan’s (sometimes genuine I think) irritation with Brydon.
This is when the comedy comes from as their bickering that occurs as the pair, playing the fictionalised versions of themselves, are constantly trying to one-up each other, with their different impersonations of Michael Caine and Sean Connery. Usually occurring over dinner, they have battles of impersonations, which they both do brilliantly, but then they have arguments about Welsh actors and Coogan’s ideas on who he should be working with and what he should be working on.
In all honesty, Coogan’s character of sorts, comes across as arrogant and annoying eventually as he constantly wrestles with his American agent about roles he should be playing, expecting a big break, expecting auteurs to be ready and waiting for him to play someone in their films. You feel sorry for the torrent of abuse that Brydon receives from Coogan due to his frustration and annoyance with Brydon. Mostly capped off by seeing a cottage where Coogan gets frustrated with the lady saying it’s closed, where as Brydon is able to get them into the cottage due to his small man trapped in a box voice. But as the episodes wear on, the more enjoyable their relationship becomes, for them on-screen and for us off-screen. Also you get to see Coogan become jealous of Brydon’s ‘small man trapped in a box’ and his attempts at doing it in the mirror.
It was originally aired on the BBC and ran for six episodes, and the show matures as it goes on, because a ‘bromance’ forms between Coogan and Brydon and between bouts of impersonating Michael Caine, they eat an incredible amount of food (Which all looks so so good), but there is separate narratives which add something to the show, to make it seem authentic. Coogan wrestles with abundance of things, his boisterous teenage son, his rocky relationship with Misha (for which he dabbles in a string of affairs) and his acting career. Whereas, Brydon simply relishes the opportunity, but becomes homesick and rings his partner up impersonating Hugh Grant.
In theory, after reading back through this The Trip does sound a bit rubbish. In practice, I wish they did more of the shows because it’s absolutely brilliant. The comedy works and according to interviews with Coogan, some of their conversations out of frustration are genuine and most of the comedy is improvised. All I can really suggest is if you watch, to take it with a pinch of salt. I personally think it’s brilliant and two comics that I didn’t neccesarily watch a great deal off and you get to see some culinary expert’s doing their best.
I find it difficult to give a rating to television shows, because some episodes are great, some aren’t. With this show, most of the shows are the same, just different restaurants, but the comedy although may seem repetitive is still brilliant to watch. So I shall say I recommend this!