cold feet 88.
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So many channels, so little to watch, goes the common complaint from cable and satellite viewers. You come home anxious for just an hour of entertainment, spend an hour channel surfing, and nada zip. But every once in a while you catch a surprise, one you've missed that turns out to be worth your while.
A case in point is Cold Feet, a British series that charmed audiences for half a dozen years with its Friends-like format, but which to our mind is a bit more sophisticated than its American cousin. Recently inserted into Channel 3's late-night line-up at 10:55, the entertaining drama/comedy is a good reason to stay up weekday nights.
While Friends focuses on singles, Cold Feet focuses on couples, specifically three of them: the married folks Jenny and Pete, who in the pilot are desperately trying to have a baby, and Karen and David, trying just as desperately to handle theirs. Linking the two couples are the third duo: Adam (Jenny and Pete's friend) and Rachel, who knows Karen and David.
Adam, played to riotous perfection by James Nesbitt, is a gadabout who can't seem to hang on to a woman for more than a few months, particularly if her taste in rock bands differs from his. "A woman over 30 who doesn't have a man usually has a cat, and I'm allergic to cats," he explains to Pete while discussing his dating woes.
Pete's got his own problems. Wife Jenny is determined to get pregnant and has the couple's life revolving around her ovulation chart and pregnancy tests, hoping to see "white smoke at the Vatican," as Pete describes it. Meanwhile, Karen's struggling to raise young Josh while workaholic dad David stays late at the office, leading her to march down there and demand he hire a nanny. Their friend Rachel's only recently broken up with David's pal Simon, and they're anxious to set her up with someone new.
Then fate steps in. While driving around the supermarket looking for a space, Rachel's car gets hit by Adam's, setting up a delightful meeting in the parking lot, with Rachel writing her number on the dust on the back of Adam's car, only to have the lovestruck lad lose it in hilarious fashion. Fortunately for him, she's fallen just as hard and eventually takes Karen's advice to be the first to call.
Their relationship has its ups and downs; Adam is desperate to get her into bed, and Pete assures him that she's "just playing hard to get." "Pete, lesbians don't play this hard to get," Adam complains.
Eventually, however, he wins her over. Suddenly, Rachel and Adam can't get enough of each other, with him making lovey-dovey videos of her when she comes over to visit, and her enjoying the hilarious antics. Adam even manages to somehow put up with the snobby David, who while glancing at the bottle of wine Adam brings over for a dinner party notes: "They make some very underrated wines, the Bulgarians - though this isn't one of them."
Then, just as he's moving in with her, our over-the-moon ones have a fight over... shirt ironing. Off Adam goes, marking the break-up with a hilarious scene in which he lies in the bath, a bottle of whiskey in one hand, singing along loudly with an opera record. Suddenly Simon's back in the picture, pushing Rachel into choosing between the two: the reliable Simon or the balmy but loving Adam. And spurred on by advice from Jenny to fight for what he really wants, Adam jumps in his car determined to reclaim her, leading to an uproarious ending of the introductory episode.
The cast sparkles all around, as does the script, and the characters are endearing and believable. Besides the outstanding Nesbitt, there's Helen Baxendale as Rachel, who also played Ross's girlfriend Emily on Friends. And once you see the pilot, you'll never feel the same about the song "I've Got You Under My Skin."
Kudos to Channel 3 for bringing back this charming series, which reminds us that while there may be mostly coal on our TV screens, here and there one can still find diamonds.