Up the Women: Episode 2 Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
“I see you’re still hell-bent on attempting to captain this rudderless ship of fools upon the topsy-turvy seas of a motherless society” – Helen Bute.
Up the Women reaches second base in its three-part series and I am overjoyed to see it rising in terms of quality. The simple premise isn’t augmented by anything provided by the second episode but there are enough witticisms and laughs to keep you entertained for half an hour.
Rebranded as the Banbury Intricate Craft Circle Politely Requests Women’s Suffrage, the six-strong group attempt to demonstrate at the local post office, eager to put their organization on the map. Before they set off they must prepare placards for their protest, and not everything goes to plan. Jessica Hynes is considerably underused this week, a change from the opener, which was virtually centered on her. The diverse range of characters in the group are all archetypal in that we have a well-intentioned one; a sour one; an overexcited one; a cynical one; a klutzy one; a good-natured one. We are also introduced to a new character, constable John (Miranda’s Dominic Coleman) who is instantly taken aback by the dysfunctional party. What follows is an amusing interrogation scene that nicely displays the idiosyncrasies of each craft circle member. He also stumbles upon a hilarious but incriminating list of things the Banbury Intricate Craft Circle Politely Requests Women’s Suffrage want to do (a couple of examples include killing the king and kidnapping the prime minister). Again Up the Women contains many feeble jokes (including another hugely unfunny one regarding genitalia) but a lot of them succeed in making me laugh, in comparison to the first episode.
There are nice touches like ‘the well-intentioned one’: Gwen (a very funny Vicki Pepperdine and some silly false teeth) covering up bakery-bought treats as homemade cupcakes, and Margaret feigning ignorance at how to do a simple task such as painting; she is then given a patronizing talk from church hall caretaker, Frank (Adrian Scarborough is a rather infelicitous casting choice). Up the Women sadly includes slapstick in its potpourri of comedy and a lot of the physical jokes fall flat on their face (quite literally in certain circumstances). There’s a lot to be found in Up the Women and the majority works but there is still room for improvement.
Even if you don’t find Up the Women humorous then you can’t fault the authentic script. Hynes has nailed the historical dialogue superbly, each line sizzling with early twentieth century charm. There are jests about doctors prescribing smoking to an invalid, and how if they were to murder the monarch they would face the death penalty. It’s a hodgepodge of gags ranging from crass visuals to snappy one-liners; you’ll almost certainly find something you like in the mix.
Up the Women stumbles onwards towards the finale (it’s hardly going to be a showstopper) and there are enough jokes to keep viewers entertained. If it maintains the quality of this episode then I’ll be able to look back and think positively of the series. Until then it just has to survive next week.