‘Hello Ladies’ has flown under my radar, and I’m not sure why. After Ricky Gervais’ ‘Derek’ aired to mixed reviews, covering a spectrum of passionate hatred to divine worship, depending on who you asked, I was interested to see how lanky co-writer Steve Merchant fared with his first solo telly venture.
The opening scene with Stuart and his recently-dumped friend Wade is pretty much a reworking of the great Darren Lamb/Barry interactions in Extras. Introducing themselves to two women comfortably out of their league, the pair waste no time in embarrassing themselves. Despite being familiar with the idea and seeing the gags coming a mile off, it still managed to make me laugh, with Wade bringing up Roe vs Wade, a famous US abortion-related legal case, while introducing himself.
Stuart immediately jumps in and says “no need to bring up abortion….til we need to”. This sets the tone for Stuart’s interaction with the two lovely ladies, who are less than impressed with his bantering about Seattle, among other things.
We’re then introduced to Stuart’s lodger/housemate lady Jessica, who has just had sex with her ruggedly handsome boyfriend, who immediately leaves after the deed is done. I can sense trouble brewing.
After a brief scene with Stuart and Wade (and Wade’s daughter, who Stuart has a couple of really funny lines with), with Wade upset about his wife having left him, we’re now in Stuart’s office in his house with his workmate Rory. They work in IT coding, and work from home while Jessica is in the living room auditioning a young lady by the name of Courtney for a role in her web series that she has written. Stuart wastes no time in making a play for Courtney, and asks for Jessica’s assistance. It transpires that Stuart and Courtney had a brief conversation once, so he’s in there. Courtney acts out a brief scene, then we see Stuart, leaning in what he thinks is a suave manner, wearing a RIDICULOUS bowler hat and scarf, that is just brilliant.
He charms Courtney by telling her he can create a website for her, and ding dong, she invites him to meet up at an event she’s going to on Friday night! Playa. Sadly, he has to cancel his plans to go ten-pin bowling with Wade. Hold on though, Jessica cock-blocks him by telling her that he was supposed to be hanging out with his recently-ditched friend! What a bitch! They all agree that Stuart should put his friends first, which leads to Stuart listing his priorities (#1: Friends and family. #2: endangered species. #3: homosexuals. #4 immigrants). Not to worry, Stuart decides to bring Wade to the club too. Problem solved.
It’s club night now, and Stuart and Wade (and a friend whose name I don’t catch) pull up in Stuart’s car. Wade tries to get out, but opens the door and gets it stuck on the pavement. After scraping it across the ground for an eternity, he gets out of the other side of the car instead, and ends up falling arse over tit. Stuart is embarrassed but tries to play it cool, and casually his keys to the valet. But misses. Lots of slapstick gags here, I am finding them all really funny.
In the club, and Stuart zones in on Courtney. She is with a friend, so Stuart offers to buy the drinks. Only the girls weren’t alone, so he ends up taking an order for about thirty drinks. Steve is so great here, switching between annoyed facial mannerisms and playing it cool to look good in front of Courtney. The drinks are in, but Courtney is sat chatting it up across the table, instead of chatting to Stuart. After a few brief attempts at joining in, it ends with Stuart leaning over, falling over the table and spilling the drinks everywhere, revealing a Durex in his pocket, to everyone’s amusement.
So poor Stuart ends up home alone, Durex unused. Jessica’s boyfriend is snooping around, it turns out she invited him over, then hid from him, to prove that he can’t use her whenever he wants or something. Stuart points out the ridiculousness of the situation. I do find it an interesting dynamic where Stuart is the bumbling oaf when it comes to interacting with women, yet when he’s with Jessica he’s the smarter, logical voice of reason in some regards. I look forward to him inevitably realising that it’s her he should have been chasing all along.
The last shot is Stuart eating a ready meal, all alone.
That was great. Some great one-liners and physical comedy, plays to Steve’s strengths perfectly. Has the potential to be up there with Extras in terms of quality.
Verdict: Thumbs up!