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We’ve all seen it before. Six friends, equally split into three guys and three girls, go through their late twenties/early thirties with an assortment of experiences, mainly of the sexual variety, while we watch. The TV show Friends is probably the most successful and obvious of these creations but there are plenty of others out there riding on its wave of success.

Enter Coupling, a BBC comedy featuring, you guessed it, six thirtysomethings looking for love in all the wrong places. Is this just the boring British version of the popular American sitcom or are there enough laughs and original scripts to keep us entertained? Read on…

Coupling: The Complete First Series
The Show
The first thing you’ll notice about the series is that it is accompanied by a laugh track. With the halcyon days of quality series’ such as The Office I was surprised at this decision and was originally put off by the canned laughter going off at anything remotely funny. But once you get used to it you’ll actually find it becomes much less of a distraction as you’ll be laughing along with it most of the time.

The parallels between this series and Friends can definitely be drawn; the characters tend to hang out in the pub a fair bit (as opposed to a coffee shop), the mannerisms are simply variations on the character traits of those in the US sitcom, and we find ourselves in some bizarre situations where comedy isn’t usually meant to spring up.

Nevertheless, we tend to care about enough of them (mainly straight man Steve, played by familiar face Jack Davenport) to become interested in the stories present in each episode. We cover things like trying to dump your obsessive compulsive girlfriend, the size of one’s penis, laughing out loud during funerals, watching porn, imagining people naked and the taping of your sexual conquests. All very funny situations which quickly become hilarious at times.

There are definitely some quality moments in this series, namely a goofy homage to Reservoir Dogs, a dinner table discussion about the difference between erotica and porn and a bizarre funeral wake for a dead aunt. The delivery and the scripts are top notch in most of these moments, which more than make up for some of the down times which occur during the episodes.

None of this is very original but for light entertainment and some decent laughs you can’t go past this series. It’s a very simple sort of structure and some of the gags really do feel like out-and-out skits but on the whole there’s some enjoyment to be had with these characters and their bizarre situations. Try not to think about the “giggle-loop” when you’re next at a funeral after you’ve watched this series.

Coupling: The Complete First Series
Video
Pretty much your stock-standard TV looking transfer here, though it is presented in the favourable 1.85:1, 16:9 enhanced aspect ratio. The colours look quite good, with an obvious attempt to make it a vibrant looking series from the word go. Sharpness is a little under what would usually be expected from a modern film but this is an off-shoot of the way you watch TV. Nothing really to report here, but that means there are no real problems with the transfer.

Audio
A vanilla Dolby 2.0 track accompanies this release, which does a reasonable job at providing clear dialogue, decent support for the music and a laugh track that doesn’t dominate proceedings. There’s really not a lot to say about this one, other than the fact you won’t be buying this disc for any audio excitement.

Extras
Um, none. Disappointing, really, but what could you expect from a small TV show such as this one?

Coupling: The Complete First Series
Overall
Surprisingly there is enough originality in the scripts to make this a decent laugh at times. Some of the absurd situations the characters find themselves in are a riot and you’ll be laughing along at regular intervals. Very little to say about the audio and video side of things and the extras are nowhere to be seen, but fans of the series can rest assured the six episodes are here in all their glory.


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