The Mimic (Channel 4, Wednesdays) follows the life of Martin Hurdle (Terry Mynott), a janitor and custodian with a talent for mimicking the voices of others, mainly famous people. The show is written by Matt Morgan, co-writer for a lot of Russell Brand’s comedy, who is either Brand’s tag-along friend or the man behind the verbose comedian’s success, depending on whether or not you hate Russell Brand.
What struck me most about the show is how quickly the characters grabbed my interest. Martin’s friend Jean (Jo Hartley) seems like a real person, with an idiosyncratic nature and a subtle insecurity, while Neil Maskell, fresh from his outstanding performance in Utopia, plays a paranoid newsagent, whose introduction was funny enough to have me looking forward to future episodes.
I was though worried that the show’s central concept – a man impersonating celebrities – would become incredibly tiresome, forcing impressions into every scene. I’m still not sure the series can sustain this concept indefinitely without it getting wearisome, but this episode did well to incorporate it into the show.
First, Martin’s voices were used not just for humour but also to aid the plot, giving the character advantages like winning over a stubborn newsagent. More importantly though, the impressions were also used to voice Martin’s insecurities and frustrations. In one scene for instance, he uses his mimicry to voice his concerns over his son’s perception of him, and in another he impersonates David Attenborough while wondering about the point of existence. Questioning the character’s mimicry, exploring whether it’s a character flaw or a coping mechanism, can take the concept beyond a one note joke.
The directing in the show was nice and natural and fit well with the show’s subdued tone and the main character’s unhappiness, and the music worked well, though maybe it doesn’t have to kick in after every emotional moment. In terms of plot, the show was engaging enough. Martin’s son had a nice mix of disappointment, awkwardness and pleasure at meeting his dad. The story isn’t the most compelling part of the show so far, but it is only episode one.
The Mimic wasn’t hilarious, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s more of a comedy drama. I laughed a good few times, and smiled at many other moments. Some people enjoy these types of shows and others find them boring. We’re just one episode in, so it’s too soon to judge, but I find myself liking it so far.
- ‘I just went in there once and started being Irish’ ‘That’s a bit fucking weird Martin’ ‘Yeah’
- I liked Martin’s guilt over only building half a giant ant. ‘Most people just do the first week,’ says the newsagent. I wonder if anyone ever completes those magazine models.
- ‘I can’t take much more of this. The bears are on the march. They’re all homeless. Global warming.’
- ‘Look at what Mankind has built – its big glittery balls of nonsense.’