The Daily Telegraph gave The Mimic a bad review, negatively comparing it to Ricky Gervais’ Derek. ‘As in Derek the action was punctuated by melancholy piano music,’ their reviewer wrote. ‘If I wanted pathos I could sit at home alone watching second-rate comedies on television.’ It’s a common criticism of this show, that it leans heavily on the sentimental and darkly emotional.
I think the comparison is ridiculous though. Derek nakedly twisted the plot in order to evoke sentiment in the audience. Twice in one series Gervais introduced a ‘troubled’ character who was revealed to actually have a heart of gold. The main character was reduced to some magical, joy-giving fairy who everyone loved, except mean bad people. The Mimic on the other hand doesn’t overplay its sentimentality. I can understand if people think the music cues are a little heavy handed, but the writing isn’t mawkish. There are no characters showing up randomly in an episode just to push emotion into the show, and no nauseously sentimental plot points (yet, anyway).
What would be valid criticism though, is that the show is a little aimless. There is a fine line between a relaxed story and a directionless one. It’s enjoyable to sit back and watch a show take its time, but The Mimic is starting to feel a little unstructured, a little like a collection of unconnected scenes. The parts in tonight’s episode with Martin and his son Steven weren’t really funny and they didn’t add anything to the relationship between the two. And there isn’t really any plot to grip onto, except for some unspecified problem with Steven’s mum (she’s probably dying, right?)
Episode three opened and closed with two scenes at a computer repair shop and both relied on tired stereotypes about geeky computer-obsessives; Lord of the Rings loving, awkward, ugly nerds with weird T-shirts and glasses. The final scene was particularly poor, ending with a punchline when Martin crashed the car and the airbags went off. He and Neil the newsagent looked at each other and I half-expected the sad trombone sound effect. Instead we got some tinkly piano that kind of backs up the Telegraph’s point up above – frustratingly, because I don’t agree with it.
This is though technically the middle of the show’s short five episode run, and TV programmes tend to lag a little in the middle of a series, not sure what to do with themselves. The Mimic spent the bulk of this episode with Martin and Neil for that reason, and most of these scenes were enjoyable. I’m glad to see more of Neil, because I really like his character.
The biggest criticism I’ve seen levelled at this show is that it isn’t funny. I disagree. Not all comedies need to be hilarious to be legitimate. The Mimic could certainly do with more jokes but I laugh out loud a few times an episode, and fail to see how anyone could watch the adventures of Martin and Neil in tonight’s episode and not laugh once. Not at the giant ketchup, or Peperami dinner or Neil’s beaten persona and unjustified paranoia.
This is all funny, to me anyway, but then there are the impressions. I am in the camp that doesn’t think impressions in general are funny. And, three episodes in, the show’s central concept is getting a little tired. There’s isn’t really anywhere else to go with it. I would really like to see future episodes free of scenes like the one in this episode where Martin leads an old woman around a zoo impersonating David Attenborough. It’s not really funny, but it’s also broad and unrealistic. Would a blind woman really have no idea what animals look like by the age of 60? Would she really think David Attenborough just showed up in the zoo? This type of scene can’t work in a show that is naturalistic. The Mimic can’t have it both ways. It’s already lost the people wanting a joke a minute; it can’t afford to lose the people put off by broad comedy.
I’m still onboard though. It’s different from most shows on television and isn’t afraid to eschew a popular and large audience. I think the comparisons to shows like Derek are inapt, and the accusation of it being lazily filled with pathos and sentimentality are lacking in depth and not backed up with examples. If you have some though, point them out below.
- ‘Okay, but I distinctly heard you say fuck the police.’ ‘No, I said ‘oh fuck’ with alarm, and then ‘the police.’’
- ‘Have you considered that’s she’s flooding you out? Subconsciously? Could it be a Freudian flood?’
- ‘I’ll ask her to bring a friend and we can double-team ‘em.’ ‘Double date.’ ‘Yeah…Be safer with a pair anyway.’
- ‘The giant tortoise – it’s like a fat coffee table with a very old man trapped inside it.’
- ‘You’re in showbiz! You’ll make a lot of money! If you don’t die from drugs.’
- ‘You could keep it in the cupboard and decant it into a smaller container?’ ‘Nah. Far too busy for all that.’
- ‘Let’s have a nightcap.’ ‘Hope you girls like ketchup.’