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Chronicling the mundane lives of two flat-sharing friends, the sitcom Peep Show first appeared on UK screens in 2003. Starring David Mitchell as uptight Mark and Robert Webb as layabout Jeremy, the show was unique in that it was filmed, almost entirely, from the point of view of the characters. The audience was also frequently treated to the inner-monologues of the protagonists (no matter how depraved or surreal) and the result was a comedy show that could be daring, honest and very, very funny. The second series arrived in 2004 and, one year later, the DVD has appeared.

Peep Show: Series Two
Feature
Peep Show: Series Two consists of the following episodes…

Episode One
Mark hacks into Sophie’s email account, hoping to find out her innermost secrets. Meanwhile, Jeremy acquires a girlfriend; the carefree Nancy (Rachel Blanchard).

Episode Two
Mark makes his first new friend since 1996. However is Darrell really quite as pleasant as he appears to be?

Episode Three
In a half-hearted attempt to impress Nancy, Jeremy starts doing community work for the homeless.  

Episode Four
Mark and Jeremy take a trip down memory lane when they return to University. Jeremy’s in search of a music career, while Mark is in search of a women he briefly met in a shoe shop.

Episode Five
Eager to spend more time with Sophie, Mark attempts to befriend her new boyfriend Jeff. However, Jeff seems to have more in common with Jeremy...

Episode Six
Nancy proposes to Jeremy and, despite being aware that it is not for romantic reasons, he gladly accepts. When Mark learns of the impending wedding, he tries to get his friend to change his mind.

Peep Show: Series Two is perhaps not quite as risqué as the first batch of episodes but this is still a show that can make you squirm as much as it makes you laugh. Episode two for example, covers the tricky issue of racism and may just be Peep Show’s finest half-hour. While many people will find this uncomfortable viewing, the show manages to speak honestly about the nature of prejudice without ever preaching. The fact that the episode is also crammed with fantastic lines is further testament to the strong writing team.

Peep Show: Series Two
Episode four is effective for wholly different reasons. As accomplished as the first series was, its flaw was that it did not offer us substantial back-stories for our characters; never fully explaining their histories and how they came to live together. While many shows would have the luxury of flashbacks, this would undoubtedly jar with the style of Peep Show and so we are instead offered an ‘origins’ episode in which we see Mark and Jeremy returning to University and subtly slipping back into their student personas. While a change of sitcom location can, occasionally, show a sign of desperation from writers, here it is not the case. This is Peep Show at its very best.

Webb and Mitchell as our two protagonists are also a major asset as the context of the show calls on the pair to humiliate themselves on a regular basis. This certainly isn't the cosy world of Friends and, regardless of whether we like these characters, it is thanks to the performances of these two, terrific, comedy actors that we manage to emphasise with them. For example, it's doubtful whether we'd want to spend too long in the company of straight-laced Mark, but for the entirety of the series, we hope that his dreams, no matter how unrealistic, are fulfilled.  

There's very little to say that is negative about this show and six episodes of Peep Show certainly leave you wanting more. It's therefore fortunate that this timely release coincides with the screening of series three on UK Television. Hopefully, we wont have to wait another twelve months for those episodes to make their way to the digital format as there's always room on the DVD shelf for innovative, daring and, most importantly, hilarious comedy. Peep Show ticks all of those boxes.

Video
Peep Show is grounded in realism and, as a consequence, the visuals are very down to earth and ordinary. The clarity of the picture comes under close scrutiny in the numerous scenes shot on location and, while they occasionally suffer under bright lighting conditions, it’s never really distracting enough to spoil the enjoyment of the series.

Peep Show: Series Two
Audio
Sound-wise, the DVDs of Peep Show have a slight disadvantage over many other comedy releases. Namely the way the discs must differentiate between the spoken dialogue and the characters’ inner monologues. The DVD of the previous series handled this very well, although there are moments in this second batch of episodes where it becomes hard to distinguish the ‘thoughts’ from the speech. Aside from this minor quibble, the audio-mix can do no wrong. It’s your basic 2.0 Stereo job, but it serves the limited means of a sitcom.

Extras
There are commentaries on three of the episodes (one, four and six). Robert Webb, David Mitchell and the two writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, are present on the first and last episodes, while producer Phil Clarke and director Tristram Shapeero handle the chat-track duties on episode four. There are a few pesky pauses along the way but they’re mostly very entertaining. One wishes that all of the episodes had been afforded the same treatment.

‘Gog’s Film’ is a short sequence, part of which can be seen in episode two. It was clearly created to satirise ‘arty films’ made by ex-students, and as a result it’s intentionally terrible. It’s not really worth a repeat viewing but should be of some interest to fans.

The ‘making of’ featurette begins with an introduction from Robert Webb and David Mitchel who announce that they’re going to detail the four stages to creating a successful sitcom. Sadly, this—very short—documentary skims over things far too quickly. There are brief interviews with the writers and footage of the show being filmed, but this feels like a missed opportunity.

There aren’t a huge amount of deleted scenes, but the ones on the five-minute reel were presumably cut because of time constraints rather than because of misfiring punch-lines. Suffice to say, they’re very funny and the highlight of the short list of extras.

Peep Show: Series Two
Overall
Peep Show is a wonderful programme and one that deserves to be seen by any self-respecting comedy fan. While this disc does not fully utilise the wonders of DVD, the six episodes are entertaining enough to make this a worthy purchase.


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