All the great comedies go back to Last of the Summer Wine, which ran on the BBC from 1973 to 2010. Series 3 of (RTE One, Friday, 9:35pm) was back this week and the same similarities were there.
Instead of three old guys pushing a wheel up a hill in a no-horse Yorkshire town, we have three young guys robbing tellies on Blarney Street in Cork. But both shows were about the same thing – men messing around.
That’s the beauty of The Young Offenders. It doesn’t have any agenda, it isn’t trying to make a point or change your mind – it’s just men messing around.
This week, Conor and Jock go robbing tellies with Billy Murphy, but that would be too easy so they bring Jock’s new-born Star with them as well. It briefly morphs into Three Men and a Baby, which should be a bad thing because that was a shit movie, but the physical comedy and deft writing turn it into a lark, particularly when Shane Casey’s Billy Murphy is in the frame.
Star goes missing in a furniture shop, their nemesis Sergeant Healy arrives and organises a search party (shades of Alf in Home and Away there, he was always organising search parties). They find Star, the tellies get robbed, while their inside guy in the heist (Paul, played by Aidan O’Hare) carries on a mockiya conversation with his girlfriend on the phone, for reasons that I didn’t really grasp. But then grasping stuff isn’t the point of The Young Offenders.
It’s funny, poignant, disgusting, politically incorrect and edge-of-the-seat thrilling when it wants to be. Paul’s phone call with his girlfriend was one of the funniest things on TV this year. The cast were all over the media this week saying series 3 was the best one yet, but then they all say that.
The thing is, it feels like they’re right. It’s sharper, the gags are better, it’s easy to forget the actors are acting.
There is no talk of a forth season, and there is something to be said for going out on a high, but it would be a shame if they binned it now, just when the show has really found its feet. There is no end to the way that men can mess around, so it’s not like they’re going to run out of stories.
If Last of the Summer Wine could mine that seam of material for almost forty years, then The Young Offenders should be able to manage it for one or two more.
If the new series doesn’t give you enough laughs, try on Netflix. I can hear a lot of under 25s saying ‘late to this one, grandpa’, but it’s best to ignore these people.
We stumbled on the show last night and two episodes of great characters having terrible sex just flew by. It follows 24- year-old virgin Tracey (played by Michaela Cole, who wrote the show) as she tries to find a decent bit of action in London. I’d recommend it. (The show as against a bit of action in London, but I’ve heard that can be enjoyable as well.)