For the past few weeks (six, in fact) E4 has been repeating PhoneShop, which I stopped watching after the first episode, when it was originally broadcast… but this time I persevered, and I’m glad that I did. Once I got used to the style of the show, and the bizarre patter/patois of some of the characters, I found it was actually pretty funny. Initially I was worried that the pattern of the first story would be repeated in every episode, with geeky “new kid” Christopher getting bullied by the “cool kids”, Ashley and Jerwayne, while making a tit of himself trying to impress them… but that isn’t how it played out in the long run. Although Ashley and Jerwayne like to puff themselves up and act as if they have all the answers, they were frequently bowed by supporting characters, such as an intimidating female soldier, or an overbearingly smug supervisor… not to mention the looming shadow of “Little Gary” Patel, who insisted that he be hailed as the shop’s reigning “Salesman of the Month”, despite being locked up in prison for a long stretch, on charges of assault. And Christopher was just as likely to come out the “winner” in an episode, as he was to be the “loser” (or just break even).
Meanwhile, Janine was making a rather timid and girly play for promotion, while dancing to the beat of her own, otherworldly drummer. Actually, she was literally dancing in the opening scene of the final episode, expressing her delight at being made temporary store manager by staging an impromptu pre-opening ballet… and it was just a joy to see Emma Fryer doing her thing. I don’t think anyone else could ever match her off-kilter delivery and body language… she’s like the perfect combination of “funny, ha-ha” and “funny, peculiar”. Bless.
Oh, and I loved the way they all talked about “the high street” as if it were a self-contained universe… or a small village, where outsiders were distrusted. Quite a neat comedic conceit, with their inter-shop rivalries, rituals and esoteric caste system.
PhoneShop was recommissioned for a second series in November, last year… and a DVD of the first series is due for release on 17 November 2011.