Plebs is a pretty routine sitcom. Each week Marcus tries and fails to impress Cynthia, and each week Stylax gets into some sex related hijacks while Grumio does something stupid. Even the specific plot of each episode is quite predictable, and as soon as Marcus starts looking after Cynthia’s cat in this episode it was a certainty that the pet would die at some point.
If you assume this first series is one long pilot, testing the waters, then I guess the clichéd and routine stories aren’t a problem; series two can work on adding depth and originality. But if this is all the show has to offer than it’s going to struggle going forward.
But that’s the future; right now, Plebs is just an enjoyable enough comedy. Episode four opens with the reveal that Stylax has herpes, and he spends the episode being treated by good looking doctors he then tries to date. Marcus meanwhile tries to win over Cynthia via pretending not to hate her cat, culminating in a scene were he and his two friends dig up the cat’s grave – having killed it with herpes – in order to cut Grumio’s lottery ticket out of it’s stomach. It’s a pretty funny scenario, helped by the introduction of the trio’s landlord, and his casual extortion and blackmail.
The secondary characters in general in this show are pretty good. The landlord with his relaxed blackmailing and shady profiteering is a fun character played by a great comic actor in Karl Theobald. The waterboy/man has a nice passive-aggressive hatred of Marcus and Stylax, and I enjoy seeing him get wound up each week, and Doon Mackichan brings a lot to the role of Stylax’s boss.
The jokes in this episode were as base as in previous ones, and trafficked a little too heavily in crude humour. The herpes plot didn’t really go anywhere, wasn’t interesting and wasn’t particularly funny. Marcus’s plot with the cat ended well, but it was predictable and pretty much the same premise as every other episode i.e. Marcus failing to impress Cynthia. Grumio meanwhile was underused this episode and confined to a subplot about buying a lottery ticket.
Episode four was probably the weakest so far and it didn’t have as many jokes as the last three. The story wasn’t very engaging either. But it’s early days for the show, and I expect a weak episode here and there with a programme like this. It was just about funny enough to hold my interest till next week, but Plebs is going to have to add more depth to the characters and story if it is going to be able to handle weak episodes in future without losing viewers.
- ‘You’ll never guess what I did last night?’ ‘Stayed at home crying and wanking again?’
- ‘I’d be a millionaire, wouldn’t I?’ ‘Yes, you would, until you spent any of it.’ ‘I just wouldn’t spend any of it.’ ‘There’s a plan.’
- ‘One man’s cat flap is another man’s gloryhole.’
- ‘I could have herpes. I don’t. I…I’m sexually active.’ ‘With cats?’ ‘No, humans. Women. Human women.’
- ‘What are the chances of the ticket being inside the cat?’ ‘50/50.’ ‘Hmm. And if it is, what are the chances that it’s the winning ticket?’ ‘50/50.’ ‘Well, it clearly isn’t.’ ‘Course it is.’ ‘In what way is you winning the lottery 50/50?’ ‘Either I will win or I won’t.