Freddie and Max isn't the greatest sitcom in the world, by a long margin.
Which considering that it's written by the same people who gave us Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, just makes it all the more disappointing.
Which is a shame, because there's actually quite a good programme in there waiting to get out. This is perhaps best seen in the second episode. Max and Freddie spend an evening in Max's Savoy apartment, discussing Max's life, work, and loves - and Max finds out more about Freddie's life as well. At the end of the scene, Max muses, "everything's good when you're young and in love. Everything's good when you're young." It's touching. It's poignant.
And maybe this is too much speculation, but I can't help thinking that it would have been so much better had the programme as a whole had been more like this - far more leisurely in pace, and less desperate to fit into the laugh-a-minute straitjacket that comes with being a studio-bound sitcom recorded in front of an audience. Because much of the actual humour seems somehow...strained. A good example of *this* can also be found in the second episode - as Freddie and her ex-boyfriend discuss what they're going to do with their record collection, Freddie says, "I was going to suggest that you have pre-new romantics and I have post-new romantics...but then who'd take the Spandau Ballet"? It just comes across as a strained attempt by middle-aged writers to sound vaguely hip and trendy (about eight years after new romantic music ceased to bother us).
It doesn't help that Coleman, fresh from her success in "Oranges are not the only fruit", doesn't seem quite comfortable in the studio sitcom medium, sometimes delivering her lines with some oddly placed stress and emphasis, and apparently playing more to the studio audience than to the cameras. It's a shame - I'm a big fan of Coleman's, but this programme doesn't see her at her best. However, the other members of the ensemble cast more than cover for this - Anne Bancroft and Richard Pearson (as Max's agent Malcolm) are both on fine form, and Ian Congden-Lee (better known for his role as Ted Fisk in Grange Hill) puts in a sympathetic performance as Gary, the Savoy bell-boy who occasionally tries to woo Freddie.
The greatest shame is that by the final episode, as Max attends an old colleague's funeral, the programme seems to have found its feet. Sadly, it's too little, too late, and the programme wasn't renewed for a second series. What there is, is adequate entertainment...but it could have been much better.moreless