Let me preface this review by letting you all know that, in my opinion, yes, it would seem the lanky co-writer does indeed still have ‘it’. Hello Ladies’ latest instalment, “The Limo”, perhaps doesn’t reach the same cringe-inducing highs as last week’s “Pilot, but it feels like a more rounded experience and is the episode in which we really get a glimpse at what’s to come tonally over the next few weeks.
The episode comes hard and fast with the jokes, opening with a great gag involving Stuart repeatedly interrupting an emotional encounter between unhappily married couple Wade and Marion. But it’s here that the episode peaks in terms of comedy in my opinion, and that’s not to say that what follows isn’t funny, rather that the real nature of the show becomes clear(particularly in the last 10 or so minutes), a typical Merchant blend of Comedy and Drama achieved inarguably to a greater success here than in his counterpart’s “Derek”.
A sure highlight of this episode is a more interesting interaction between characters, most apparent in the dynamic shift between Stuart and Wade. No longer is there a ‘Darren-and-Barry’-esque encounter with a pair of lovely ladies, in its place, a seemingly sincere message of comfort from Stuart to Wade as the pair briefly reflect on the night, and how the latter will cope after a temporary parting with his wife. It’s moments like these in which Hello Ladies shines, moments where characters appear as more than simple vessels for comedy, moments where they are allowed the opportunity interact as people with real emotions and motivations, permitting the audience to establish a connection with them beyond just comedy.
But Hello Ladies is not quite perfect, certain aspects of the episode would benefit from a ‘less is more’ approach to the craft, the most glaring instance of which is the characterisation and depiction of Jessica’s friends. It’s made painstakingly clear to the audience that her friends aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, and whilst they admittedly deliver a few funny lines, the joke of ‘wow, aren’t they stupid’ begins to wear a little thin as the episode progresses, which would perhaps have been more tolerable had the writers ever hit a real comedic high with the idea instead of allowing it to drearily meander along throughout.
There may have been some wobbly steps in this episode, for instance I found myself wondering If I was meant to laugh or cry when Wade shed tears over memories of his wife, but in the grand scheme of things, they are but nit-picks. From an awkwardly long ‘Born to be Wild’ acapella, to Stuart and Jessica sharing snacks in the back of a limousine, Hello Ladies is a definite success and something Merchant should be proud of crafting. Some small issues bring down just this particular episode, but I have faith the season will hit its stride in the coming episodes and solidify its position amongst the top tiers of RSK related material.