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TV review: Friday Night Dinner

Friday Night Dinner, Channel 4

    Friday Night Dinner: where slapstick meets the surreal
    Friday Night Dinner: where slapstick meets the surreal

    In the week in which Jewish stereotypes were spattered all over our screens in the kosher car crash that was Jewish Mum of the Year, Channel 4 presented the flip-side with Friday Night Dinner.
    This sitcom, which attracted decent viewing figures in its previous, er, Friday-night slot, is the Jewish show that dare not speak its name.

    The family gets together for Friday-night dinner, there is challah on the table (always referred to as bread) and wine, but rarely, if ever, are there any references to Jewishness.

    The first series recovered from a shaky start to provide some excruciatingly funny situations. From the look of Sunday’s first episode of the new series, the writers may well have got a little carried away with their success. Where last time there were brilliantly contrived plots, this time around we got slapstick interlaced with surrealism.

    The two grown-up sons, Adam (Simon Bird) and Jonny (Tom Rosenthal), supply the slapstick, fighting over a cuddly toy while their mum Jacqui (brilliantly played by Tamsin Greig) is out of the way downstairs. The surrealism comes courtesy of Dad (Paul Ritter), who fixes his lawnmower in the middle of dinner, and the neighbour, Jim, talking in Chinese.

    The ingredients are there for an enjoyable second helping of Friday Night Dinner as long as its creator Robert Popper does not lose the plot. But isn’t it time to let the family “come out” as Jewish?

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