Series one was simply brilliant. I came to this show because of Tamsin Greig. She is a wonderful actress and her performance is always top quality. However, in series one I came to love Gill Raymond (Michael Landes) and thought he was simply beautiful. The first series worked so well in its one hour format, jumping between Alice and Gill's lives. Both had such funny tales to tell each week when it came to relationships. Their voiceovers with their thoughts gave the show a unique touch and made it all the more amazing. They also linked perfectly to each other and so the longing for them to get together was always there.
The second series began in a new 12 episode half hour format. This would be fine aside from the fact that it's just Alice. as much as I love Tamsin the show has lost its meaning without having Gill's story to support Alice's. The whole point was the hope that they would get together and now he's not there it's not the same, and definately not as funny.
I had hope for the showing thinking that he could return if there was to be a third series but it seems that they have killied him off. I feel let down and dissapointed by series two and I adore Mark Heap as her new love intrest, but then where have Millie and Cleo gone? They seem to have been phased out as the series has continued. This is also a let down to the show as their friendship is sometimes the funniest thing. I still love the show, don't get me wrong and Tamsin is wonderful as ever but some of the things she has been doing lately are out of character compared to series 1 and it just doesn't seem to work any more.
It's always nice to see a series that molds itself to real life instead of trying to create its own version of reality. "Love Soup" works because the characters seem real; they define themselves as people instead of simply personifying a stereotype. Even the minor characters develop some depth as the series progresses. Furthermore, the show avoids falling into melodrama or satire. True, the basic plots sometimes border on contrived, especially for comedic value, but by involving more life-like characters, "Love Soup" avoids pitfalls like cliches or becoming a mean-spirited satire. In other words, it can be both dramatic and silly without being unbelievable or spiteful.
"Love Soup" earns a 10, not for technical perfection, but simply for being more than the sum of its parts... something all to rare among modern television programs.
I've just finished the third episode of this gem and have to say I've laughed during every one. More "dramedy" than love story, it celebrates the absurdities of single life. The date with the foot fetishist who gets angry when Alice starts her grocery list while he attends to her digits, or Gil's pool party date whose bikini reveals neck-to-shin tattoos are just a couple examples. Its main problem, in terms of gathering a large audience, is probably the layering of the jokes... these are not one-liners. Some build from the beginning of the episode, and, like a fine wine, don't peak until aged through the episode.
When the pilot first aired, I was concerned that the persistent narration would be a distraction; there seem to be very few movies, much less TV series, that are able to pull this off successfully. However, it now blends with the dialogue seamlessly, much like the exquisite jazz and blues tracks that accompany each episode. This is a rare piece in that it shows the parallels between the two protagonists, but does not seem to be in a rush to have them meet. The anticipation is part of the joy of this series.
It is an interesting phenomenon among the new TV shows - constant attempt to re-invent the medium, to get away from the usual classifications and standard paces. Few such endeavours succeed. "Love Soup" is definitely a winner in that yet-to-be-defined category, which has to comprise both drama, comedy, fantasy and extremely literary approach to human quest for love and happiness. Laden with allusions, interspersed with sinppets of shows within the show, voice-overs and frantically re-enacted flashbacks - it is ultimately a story of loneliness, of struggle to find, recognize and then to retain one's true (or almost true) soulmate.
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