Episode 1.05 Writer: Tim Price Director: Tom Marshall
THE ONE WHERE Hannah becomes a tutor, Gerry is switched to tell the truth, Stella goes speed dating and Jude’s new boyfriend has anger management issues.
VERDICT Another episode of Switch, another patchwork of hilarious scenes, sweet moments, contrived conflict, cheesy sentimentality and over-the-top guest characters. It’s a comedy drama that’s definitely working better as a comedy than a drama, and you have to wonder if it might not fare better as a half-hour sitcom. It’s certainly more Sabrina The Twenty-Something Witch than Charmed.
So yeah, Stella’s speed dating shenanigans are a lot of fun, though you have to wonder if palming off freaky cat guy with her boss is an act of kindness or revenge. Gerry being switched to tell the truth and quitting his band over “creative differences” (they’re crap, basically) is highly amusing. And Aaron standing in for Jude’s psycho boyfriend is possibly the comedy highlight of the season: “We talked about having babies… sponsoring Africans, ” he splutters, before escorting Mike off the premises in apparent high dudgeon, then mouthing “He’s hot!” behind Mike’s back to the girls. It’s a whirlwind of a cameo. Give the boy his own spin-off.
He’s inviting you out for dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner… Cat-Man
But for every great moment, there’s another that makes you wince. In a change from the usual formula, the Embarrassingly Cringey Performance Of The Week award doesn’t go to one of the guest stars and with Kevin Bishop hamming it up massively as Jude’s boyfriend Mike and Lilly Lucia Ainsworth resurrecting the spirit of Violet Elizabeth Bott as Tuppence that’s some feat. Sadly, it’s the usually reliable Phoebe Fox who walks (or rather flounces) off with the dubious honour.
Blimey she’s irritating as love-sick Grace. She’s so doe-eyed and dopey you half-expect the Kensington coven have put a spell on her. She’s pretty annoying throughout, but plumbs new depths with her “booty call” wailing on the fire escape.
Elsewhere we get more of that constant low-level bitching that makes you wonder how the girls can ever stand living together. And it’s Jude’s turn this week to moan, “Am I a bad friend?” Is this supposed to be a running joke? Or a theme that’s being sledgehammered in?
Mike is a horrendous character, not just within the framework of the show, but to watch. From the moment he arrives you think, “Dick!” and while, admittedly, you’re supposed to laugh at him, not with him, he’s so loathsome that – like Lucy a few weeks back with Stella – he actually makes you think less of Jude for even considering the idea he might a potential boyfriend. And that’s even before he goes postal on his phone; bizarre bonding over shellfish aside, he’s just creepy.
Tuppence is slightly more bearable, and you actually begin to feels some sympathy for her by the end of the episode. But her sudden conversion from traumatised, friendless witch who locks herself in the bathroom because everyone’s being horrible to her, to socially-adjusted Wiccan-on-the-rise remains unconvincing rapid.
You can’t help wondering if Switch might not be a hell of a lot better if everybody played it a bit straighter, and toned down the broad performances. Either that or it goes the whole hog and films in front of a live studio audience. Because at the moment, it’s neither one thing nor the other. Though it can be very funny when it wants to be (that Aaron scene still has me chuckling), it doesn’t seem to be able to be effectively dramatic when it needs to be either.
SWITCH LORE Covens are usually founded by Earth signs, says Tuppence. Then again, she’s an Earth sign and it may just be something her overambitious mum told her to make her feel better about herself… Don’t file this under canon yet.
ANYBODY ORDER AN ERECTION? Well, they certainly got a massive cock. The odious Mike was played by comedian Kevin Bishop. You may have caught his show on Channel 4.
BEST AARON LINE “Take a good look at me now. Next time you see me, it’ll be in one of your sex dreams.”
BEST LINE OTHER THAN ANYTHING AARON SAYS Gerry: “Thanks for putting me underwear on the radiator. It’s AMAZING*! It’s like having sex but you can get your whole bottom inside.”