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Mutual Friends - Series 1
Mutual Friends at first feels like a hybrid of just about every TV series and film about angst-ridden friends approaching midlife crises, from The Big Chill through Thirtysomething and on to Cold Feet. But, for all its familiarity, it could be a grower, thanks to Marc Warren and Alexander Armstrong as friends pitched into emotional turmoil after the suicide of their best pal. Warren, who's best known for playing wide boys and sleazebags, shows a real gift for comedy (Mutual Friends is described as, oh dear, a "comedy drama", which as we all know means it's not much of either). He does a morning-after-a-drunken-night-before scene that's so achingly realistic, complete with a drool-covered sofa, it's hard not to feel dry-mouthed and wretched in sympathy. Mutual Friends is an ensemble piece, also starring Keeley Hawes as Warren's unhappy wife and Sarah Alexander as Armstrong's ex-partner, but it's the comic chemistry between Warren and Armstrong (playing an ageing lothario) that could just turn out to be the best reason for watching.
After last week's opening bombshell, when faithless wife Jen (Keeley Hawes) announced to her husband Martin (Marc Warren) that she had a brief affair with a friend who's recently committed suicide, everyone involved falls to pieces. Martin moves in with feckless pal Patrick (Alexander Armstrong) and goes spectacularly off the rails while unhappy Jen mulls over a move to Norwich. Patrick does his best to torpedo Martin's attempts at a reconciliation, while also juggling his own hopeless life - sacked from the catalogue business and nursing a broken heart. The most sensible people in all of this are the mutual friends' various children, who have to remain stoical as their parents argue and generally behave very badly in front of them.
Martin leaves hospital and is reconciled with Jen - but with frustrating results. Things go from bad to worse when Jen invites Leigh and her three young sons to stay after their house is repossessed. To let Jen, Leigh, Liz and Anita have a boozy girls' night in, Patrick and Martin take Dan and Leigh's troublesome eldest son to a snooker club with unfortunate consequences.
Jen and Martin start trying for a baby, but Martin struggles to deliver the goods. To make matters worse, his now-pregnant boss Sarah threatens to fire him unless he brings in more business. News of Sarah's pregnancy comes as a shock to Patrick, with whom she's been having an affair - but he's even more surprised when the identity of the baby's father is revealed.
Although Jen persuades a jobless Martin to meet her employer Darren, he considers the jobs on offer to be 'beneath him' and reluctantly volunteers to teach reading at Dan's school. Patrick talks Martin into taking on his case against Harry over the ownership of Qcumba while Sarah acts on behalf of Harry, who offers Patrick a large pay-off if he agrees to stay away from Liz.
The wedding looms and there is an atmosphere of impending mayhem as everyone converges on the country house hotel for the reception. Humiliatingly, Martin is now a dogsbody at Harry's beck and call, and even has to take on the job of stand-in when the first choice for best man misses his flight. But he is pleasantly surprised when his schoolboy crush, the gorgeous Ally, is one of the wedding guests.
Repacked from files already uploaded to Thebox by Hannibal. Many thanks Hannibal.
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