Pick of the Week – November 3-9, 2014

After yesterday’s POST, which discussed the short-lived American version of the British series Coupling, I felt that this would be the perfect time to suggest one of my favorite episodes of the original British run as my Pick of the Week.

Coupling was created and written by Steven Moffat, who is currently (as possibly best known as) the showrunner for Doctor Who.  Back in 2000, though, Doctor Who had been off the air for 11 years (minus the 1996 TV movie) and Moffat was making his living mostly as a sitcom writer.  In the early 1990s, he had created and written a series called Joking Apart, a semi-autobiographical show about the course of a relationship.  Moffat’s own marriage had come to an end around this time.

For Coupling, Moffat once again dug into his own life, this time his relationship with Sue Vertue, a television producer.  It is no coincidence that the main characters in Coupling are named Steve and Susan.

This week’s pick is the fourth episode of the first season, “Inferno.”  In it, Susan finds a porn film in Steve’s VCR (It was the year 2000, after all.).  Before long, the rest of their group of friends, Jane, Jeff, Patrick, and Sally, all know about the tape leading to a very awkward dinner party. 

The dinner party sequence at the end of this episode is one of my favorite comedic sequences of all time.  It also contains one of Jack Davenport’s best moments as Steve.  (As a side note, there was an unused US pilot of Coupling based on this episode.  Half of the cast was different, but Jay Harrington was still playing Steve.  While I have no idea how this episode would possibly work as a pilot, since the character relationships are all well established by this point, I would love to see how Harrington handled Steve’s final speech).

The whole series, every episode of which was written by Moffat, is very enjoyable and well done, but if you just want a taste, check out “Inferno.”

- Alan Decker

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