Coupling could be
described in a nutshell as a British version of Friends and Seinfeld,
with a focus on the specifically sex-related adventures (and misadventures) of
its cast of characters. The only problem I have with that description, though,
is that it doesn't convey the fact that Coupling is not "just an
imitation"... this show, in classic British-comedy style, has a
personality all its own. And it's a very funny personality.
The cast of characters is six
single, "twenty/thirty-something" men and women, all with sex on the
mind. The characters are fairly well drawn and distinctive, from the first
episode onward; they're not necessarily particularly likeable characters, but
that's not really necessary to find them amusing. An interesting aspect of Coupling
is that the overall focus seems to be on one character, Steve (Jack Davenport);
the other characters are important, but mainly insofar as they come into or out
of his life. It's a bit different from what I would have expected, but it works
very well and may be a factor in how well the episodes hang together.
One of the things that really
makes Coupling stand out is its creativity in the fresh way it presents
its material. The series' playful cinematography gives the show a polished,
film-like feel that's a step beyond the feeling of "camera in front of an
open set" of Coupling's antecedents. In general, the choice of
material demonstrates a fresh perspective on the time-honored comic
possibilities of men, women, and sex, with imaginative renditions in particular
of Jeff's (Richard Coyle) assorted bizarre ideas (most memorably, the
"giggle loop" in "Sex, Death, and Nudity").
I'll freely admit to being
rather a tough case when it comes to comedies... it takes more than just a few
jokes to get me to like a comedy. So when I say that Coupling had me
laughing out loud in every single episode, it means that the show is really
very funny. Unfortunately, it's basically impossible to explain why any of the
episodes are as funny as they are, without giving away the whole plot of the
episode... and I don't want to spoil them. So you'll have to take my word for
it. Or just go ahead and buy the DVD... that's even easier.
This DVD of Coupling
includes all six thirty-minute episodes of the first season: "Flushed,"
"Size Matters," "Sex, Death, and Nudity,"
"Inferno," "The Girl with Two Breasts," and "The
Cupboard of Patrick's Love."
I love the BBC. Not only do
they create great stuff, they've embraced the widescreen format for
television... and so we get, with Coupling, a gorgeous anamorphic
widescreen transfer of the series, in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Yes
indeed, it's anamorphically enhanced, even though the case doesn't say anything
The image is of extremely good
quality, with a clean, clear picture that's almost entirely free of edge
enhancement; the minor amount that's there doesn't detract from the image.
Colors are nicely natural-looking and vibrant. The only flaw that I could find
with the image is that there's a slight softness to the image.
Coupling is presented
with a Dolby 2.0 soundtrack that's more than sufficient for this dialogue-based
show. The sound is very clean, and all the dialogue is completely clear and
understandable. There's no trace of any background noise or distortion. The
theme song ("Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps") is quite appropriate to the
show, and also very catchy.
The general organization of the
DVD does leave something to be desired. The DVD has an introductory "BBC
America" advertisement and a trailer for Absolutely Fabulous, which
are fortunately possible to bypass. The one big problem with the menus is the
omnipresence of clips from the episodes that play while you are trying to
select an episode to watch. We're not talking about brief snippets, either: for
each episode's menu, a series of clips plays from each chapter of the episode,
in order. Thanks, but I prefer my episodes without spoilers. Making selections
quickly will let you get into the episode without seeing too much, but it's a
bad idea just the same.
Getting into the actual special
features content, the main item of interest is a twenty-minute featurette that
offers interviews with the six main cast members as well as several of the
filmmakers; it's a nicely-done piece with some substance to it, not just a
promotional filler. The other featurette is a three-minute "photo
shoot" that is simply a quick look backstage. A fairly detailed cast and
crew biography section is included, along with a series of trailers for BBC
America (featuring a cute claymation Queen of England), French and Saunders,
Father Ted, Blue Planet, and Walking with Dinosaurs.
If you enjoy Seinfeld
and Friends, or if you're a fan of British comedy in general, then Coupling
is a must-see... especially with the stunning treatment it received in its DVD
transfer. This is a well-crafted show that packs a lot of laughs into each
thirty-minute episode; it's highly recommended.