(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)
Why I added it to my queue: Because just like the already-reviewed Ballykissangel, this is yet another British television show I've been catching randomly for years on my local PBS station, so thought it was high time I sat down and finally watched every episode in order, now that they're all up at Netflix in digitized versions for instant streaming. Because there's something I find infectious about British humor, and eat up these kinds of projects with a special zeal even when many others find them only mediocre.
The reality: Hit-and-miss. This infamous "British response to Friends" really cooks when it's at its best, creating the same kinds of rolling, overlapping waves of funny that you also see in such classics as Fawlty Towers (I'm thinking specifically, for example, of how much humor they mine in one episode out of a character's secret closet of videotapes featuring him and every lover he's ever had; or the revelation in one episode that a certain character simply loves big, giant c-cks, and how it not only sends her average-sized boyfriend into a tizzy but also sets off a whole chain of events among all the other friends in the show's circle of characters too). And speaking of which, that's what pretty much saves this from being the lame Friends ripoff the BBC thought they were getting when they signed this; it's much filthier, frankly, with the circle of friends actually all knowing each other because of all being former and/or current lovers of each other, with their central gathering place a pub instead of a coffeehouse. But unfortunately, it's also obvious too often the other infamous thing about this show, that most of the episodes' themes are based out of real incidents from the life of creator Stephen Moffat; and at its worst, the show devolves into a series of lame "Cambridge Footlights" style comedic monologues directly to the audience, taking what was probably a nice funny little moment from real life and trying unsuccessfully to stretch it out to a overly cutesy four-minute rom-com thing. Still, it's incredibly funny when it gets things right, something I recommend to anyone who likes extremely sharp writing and much dirtier things than you can get away with on American television (as the infamously awful American re-do of Coupling proved a few years ago).
If I had watched it when it first came out: I did. Er, essentially; there was maybe a year delay, just like is usually the case when the BBC and PBS share shows.
Strangest piece of trivia: This coming season, Moffat will be taking over the showrunner position for the hugely popular modern remake of Doctor Who, for which he has already been writing for years. Ah, yes, that's why his name sounds so familiar!
Worth your time? Yes, and especially if you're a fellow Anglophile