Peep Show: 802 “Business Secrets of the Pharaohs” Review
Reviewed by James Wynne.
While last week’s episode was a suitable return for the brilliant Peep Show, this week’s instalment feels a little less so. It has its moments, but it doesn’t quite manage to be as consistent throughout. Some of the jokes feel more bewildering than hilarious and with one of the El Dude Brothers’ adventures, there’s an unwelcome sense of déjà vu.
It’s strange, but the series has always tended to work best when it centres on Mark’s individual exploits, with Jez just dragged along for the ride. It’s often the case that when the roles are reversed, it’s not as smooth sailing – although, this isn’t always the case. In the first half of this week’s instalment, the focus is split, more or less, right down the middle. Mark’s calamitous persistence to get his book published doesn’t reach its comedic climax until much later on, and so Jez’s desire to become a life coach – following on from last week’s ‘therapising’ – dominates the initial proceedings.
It all feels a little bit rehashed – hence the “déjà vu” – albeit, with slight differences. Jez following his dream, only to have it torched by the woman in charge, after a somewhat degrading experience in the bedroom, is a scenario that’s been done before, and to better effect the first time. It’s impossible not to recall his bedding of the band’s manager, from series five’s “Jeremy’s Manager”, as he pursues something similar with the woman in charge of his life coach course. While there are a handful of notable differences – the biggest being that Mark doesn’t wind up in bed with this one – it just doesn’t seem like the writers have made enough of an effort to reinvent it as something all of its own. It just feels too reminiscent; most of the jokes feel like a complete repeat, and so the whole sequence of events lacks the comedic ‘oomph’ that it had the first time around.
It falls to Mark’s endeavours, then, to give the episode its spark of brilliance, and it does just that. His relentless attempts to see his writing talents recognised through the publishing of his book, “Business Secrets of the Pharaohs”, sheds a light on the similarities that he and Jez share. I’ve always loved that, on the surface, both seem worlds apart, but the writers are always keen to demonstrate that they’re not so different in the grand scheme of things. Both are naïve and ignorant toward the obvious pit falls of their own pursuits: Jez with his one week, life coaching course and Mark with his funding of BL (British London) Publishing. Both are also able to spot the foibles of the other’s without fail, and so the episode pulls off a brilliant role reversal at the exact mid-point. It’s here that the episode excels, as Jez becomes the unlikely voice of reason, along with Super Hans (who doesn’t like the way Mark’s percentiles are looking at him – is that some actual business acumen, or is he back on the drugs?). It’s a fact that doesn’t sit too well with Mark, which isn’t surprising.
Mark’s often at his funniest when placed in situations that he’s deeply uncomfortable with; situations that bring out the absolute worst in him and, while this isn’t the most dramatic, or best, example of it, it’s still gold to see him fumble about as all his dreams turn to dust.
Best Scene: “I’m only going to do one unethical thing in my career…it just happens to be the very first thing.”
Mark’s love for Dobs knows no bounds, as he convinces Jez to crush her dreams through the exact opposite of life coaching.
It’s an episode that suffers from being a bit inconsistent: the first half feeling quite flat and unremarkable, but it’s saved just in time with a brilliant second act.