Irish comedian Dylan Moran ("How Do You Want Me?" & "The Actors") and writer-director Graham Lineham ("Father Ted" & "Big Train") reunite under the auspices of Big Talk producer Nira Park for this surreal sit-com which won the 2001 and 2005 BAFTA for Best Situation Comedy and a Bronze Rose at the Festival Rose d'Or of Montreux in 2001.
Misanthropic bookshop owner and chronic alcoholic Bernard Black (Dylan Moran) reluctantly recruits failed accountant Manny Bianco (Bill Bailey) to help him run his little shop at the instance of neurotic neighbour and only friend Fran Katzenjammer (Tamsin Greig) in the simple set-up to this inventive comedy series.
IFTA and British Comedy Award-nominated Dylan Moran puts in a powerful central performance and generates pitch perfect chemistry with bumbling comic sidekick Bill Bailey and decidedly unromantic female interest Tasmin Grieg as well as a heap of familiar British comedy guest stars that pop-in in the futile attempt to purchase a book.
Season one starts strongly and proceeds apace with Graham Lineham and Nick Wood directing some hilarious episodes that see Bernard slowly assimilating Manny into his and Fran's acerbic little world, with guest appearances from Martin Freeman, Kevin Eldon, Nick Frost, Peter Serafinowicz, David Walliams and Lineham himself.
Season two sees new director Martin Dennis and co-writers Kevin Cecil, Andy Riley and Arthur Mathews picking up following Lineham's departure with some variable episode that feature more material for the now unemployed Fran and guest appearances from Johnny Vegas, Ricky Grover, Rob Brydon, Mark Donovan and Jessica Stevenson.
Season three sees director Martin Dennis and writers Dylan Moran, Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley plodding on in much the same vain but to less effect as the series becomes somewhat formulaic (as seen in the brilliant "Black Dolls" extra) with guest appearances from Simon Pegg, Lucy Davis, Olivia Colman, Annette Crosbie, Sam Kelly, Keith Allen and Julian Rhind-Tutt.
Moran dominates the series with his sarcastic one-line put-downs whilst Bailey and Grieg are left to deal with the standard comedic situations in a somewhat more pedestrian series than incredibly inventive sister show "Spaced" that nonetheless never ceases to raise a laugh with it's uniquely British surrealist character comedy.
Do you know nothing about modern culture, Bernard? Beckham, Posh, Pokemon...