Martin, The Mimic’s protagonist, is a very passive character. Things happen to him. He doesn’t do much. That’s supposed to be character death in fiction, and the writerly advice is to avoid it at all costs. But it kind of works in this show. The programme as a whole is very relaxing, and gentle of pace. I enjoy just sitting back for 30 minutes, watching something that isn’t too taxing but isn’t dumb either.
Episode two expanded a little of the plot and a little of the characters. It wasn’t any more exciting or riveting than the first episode – i.e. it wasn’t exciting at all – but it was a bit funnier. Martin ambles his way through the episode, meets his son again, reaches out to his ex, and accepts with passive-aggressive resistance a demotion at work.
Not every scene works. In one, Martin commutes to his job while doing Terry Wogan impressions. It’s just him driving a car really, with ‘funny’ voices. This is what I originally feared the show would be: a collection of unfunny impressions that increasingly grate. Thankfully, this isn’t the case most of the time, and this episode continued making good use of the mimicry. Martin uses it to improve his life – to escape from his life really, whether that’s pretending to be Irish or just trying to get through a depressing day job. Maybe future episodes will examine how this might actually be holding Martin back, preventing him from properly moving his life forward.
The funniest scene in the episode was Martin’s visit to the newsagent, and it’ll probably be the funniest scene next week as well. I said it last review, but Neil Maskell is a great actor. His comic timing is fantastic, and the character he plays, also called Neil, is a great creation; an erratic, paranoiac who switches quickly between moods. The acting in general is good across the board, and Terry Mynott really sells Martin as someone obliviously lost in their own head.
The thrust of the plot in episode two concerned Martin’s growing relationship with his son, Steven, and his meeting with his ex-girlfriend. The latter scene illustrated a little more of Martin’s character and backstory. The relationship between Martin and Steven meanwhile continues to grow naturally and realistically. It’s awkward and slow, and subtly written. I like the mutual embarrassment, desire to be liked and fondness they have for each other. It might be moving a bit too slow though; there are only so many episodes.
It’s a realistic show in general, with only a few missteps each episode – the Christopher Walken mask bit in this episode for instance, was cartoonish and out of place. And the gentle, relaxing tone makes The Mimic satisfying and easy to watch, helped enormously by the calm directing and pleasant music. And it’s funny – not the funniest show on television, but I laughed a good few times.
- ‘Nah it’s got subtitles. I hate that.’ ‘Subtleties Jean; it’s got subtleties.’ ‘I don’t like those either.’
- ‘It’s not just about the voices Martin…it’s about the stories and the romance.’ Something the show itself would do well to remember.
- ‘Heads up – schoolchildren.’ ‘But it’s Saturday?’ ‘Plain clothes. Still schoolchildren.’
- ‘She’s got a chocolate lab. What’s that, some Willy Wonka shit?’ ‘Chocolate Labrador. Means she’s got a brown dog.’
- ‘The internet’s a bit weird though. You never know who you’re really talking to.’ ‘Yeah, I’ve thought about that. So I’m not going to give any real details. Changed my name, lie about everything. You know, till I meet them. Make sure they are not mental.’
- ‘Have a little dabble. Just for a laugh. Might find my soulmate, might not. If I don’t…don’t know what I’ll do.’ Maskell’s delivery is great on this line.
- ‘Rang up the BBC once as Attenborough and got a box set of Planet Earth. Took ages. Got a bit awkward in the end.’