The Wrong Mans: 103 “Dead Mans” Review
Reviewed by Tyler Davies.
BBC’s unconventional new comedy had a proficient start with its two opening episodes offering cordial entertainment. Although, it was far from immaculate as there were more than a few issues along the way. Nevertheless, the openers exhibited husky promise and the important thing is whether or not the third entry managed to build on that. In a nutshell – it didn’t.
Dead Mans continues on from last episode’s cliff-hanger as Mr. Lau pays a visit to Sam at his work-place. The awkward scenario grants a few buoyant laughs (Sam and Lau’s constrained chat outside the elevators comes to mind) and gets the episode off to a sound start. Sadly, the stature of events spirals shortly after as the narrative moves at a precariously brisk pace. A profound amount of events transpire in those 30-odd minutes and this resultantly diminishes the episode. These multiple occurrences are extremely significant within the story too (e.g. Scarlett’s abrupt deception and the death of Walker) and they take place in rapid succession, meaning there is no time to digest them. Whilst there is nothing foul about a fast-pace, it doesn’t function well when several imperative events occur consecutively. It ultimately abates the impact of these situations and makes for a tumultuous episode.
Just like the previous episodes, though, there is no shortage of striking action sequences. This time the action-set pieces exceed the calibre of previous attempts as we are given a frantic car chase, some thrilling hand-to-hand combat and a classic slow-motion jump across two buildings. Present throughout a lot of this is a satirical edge which has been underlying for the duration of the series. Quite a few action-comedies opt for some satire, but the problem is that most of the satirical jokes are rehashed material. This proves to be detrimental because it ultimately results in foreseeable punch-lines in those instances where the show decides to mock contemporary action-thrillers. As a result, some of the gags this week are tame due to their derivativeness.
Fortunately the story remains generally unpredictable and equally erratic. The death of Walker is easily the most capricious surprise of the lot, though one can’t help but feel that it happens prematurely. Dougray Scott, being an actor of great caliber, is fundamentally wasted and it seems odd to have him killed after merely a few transient appearances. This leads me to believe that he will somehow return later. It is a rather far-fetched speculation, but The Wrong Mans has already proven its affinity towards absurdity.
The conspiracy which Sam and Phil are embroiled in grows even deeper with Dead Mans as the pair continue to antagonize every new person they meet. I’m unsure whether it’s the aforementioned speedy pace or an intentional move by the writers, but it really is arduous to wrap my head around the perplexing conspiracy and the people involved. That is some of the point with a thriller, but a marginal sense of cohesiveness is vital, something which is missing so far in the series. The story loses a lot of its grip with every new person/conspiracy introduced and in this episode there is an inclusion of Russians and moles – just for good measure. God help us if more twisty elements are thrown in.
Although Dead Mans does create newer problems for the series to overcome, it carries forward the good elements of the previous entries. Baynton and Corden continue to charm whilst their characters are augmented too. Phil particularly didn’t appeal to me earlier, but the material this week allows for us to connect with him as his hollow life is conceded by his mother (played lovingly by Dawn French). It puts the character in perspective and there’s also an amiable line which establishes his reasoning for enjoying his spot under the limelight. So if anything, this episode at least saw a beneficial development for Phil.
Despite its bountiful shortcomings, The Wrong Mans continues to offer pleasant entertainment and thrills packed into a concise 30 minutes. With the episode ending on yet another cliffhanger and the Next Time trailer giving a hazy indication of what’s to come – it shall be interesting to see where the series takes the hapless pair.