We've all been there. You walk into the living room, your hosts bring out the main course and it's something you hate. You say: "Wow, I love liver in pineapple jelly," but your thoughts are: "Get me out of here, fast!"
Or your first-grader brings home some horrible chicken scratch in finger paint, and you marvel: "How beautiful!" all the time thinking: "What the devil is this mess?"
Yes, sometimes it's a good thing we can keep our thoughts to ourselves. But wouldn't it be wild if someone could hear all our innermost thoughts?
That's the premise of Peep Show, a witty Channel 4 production that's back on YES Plus and features two loser roommates, Mark (David Mitchell) and Jeremy (Robert Webb), whose inner ramblings are an open book for viewers, the "gimmick" here being that their thoughts are spoken aloud as voiceovers as we follow them through bizarre situations, with hysterical results.
The two are as different as night and day, but equally desperate. Mark's an establishment success, working a nice job as a loan manager and dresses in suits, while Jeremy's a gadabout wannabe musician who can't keep a steady job and dresses in sweatshirts and jeans - the Odd Couple of urban Britain circa 2005. When it comes to women, however, they have one thing in common: they're hopeless.
Macho Jeremy is keen to break it off with Michelle, and his thoughts as he plunges the toilet in the apartment he and Mark share is to just liquidate her, "shot to the head, nice clean killâ€¦" But before he knows it, she's offering him a threesome, so he stays on. "I'll have the threesome, then break up," his thought goes. "It's a bit ungentlemanly, but it's a threesome, not Romeo and Juliet!"
Geeky Mark's already thinking about how he's going to come on to workmate Sophie, who's coming over for dinner and some "work," but before he can focus on his fantasy, he's mugged. Wondering what will happen as he hands over his phone and wallet, he hopes he won't also be sexually attacked, musing: "If they rape me and kill me, I hope they kill me first."
Naturally, nothing goes right for the pair. Jeremy's excited because he thinks he's dumping Michelle and getting back together with his true love, Big Suze, but she turns up with a former monk who's her new squeeze. Meanwhile Mark sorts through his seduction music collection when Sophie makes it clear she's interested. First rejecting a disc of James Bond movie themes, he can't keep his mind off his stolen Blackberry, musing: "Bond wouldn't get mugged."
Jeremy's threesome turns out to be less than he bargained for, as the other participant, the bizarre Vicky, sternly asks on his arrival: "Does he know the ground rules? Has he had a shower?" And Mark's desperate attempt to prove to Sophie he's a real man ("She must never know what a pathetic man I am") gets them thrown out of a movie theater. When he finally manages to physically rise to the occasion, his thoughts focus on how that much the magical moment is "like globalization - it's inevitable!"
Much to his chagrin, however, poor Mark's Sophie gets a new job and moves out of town, so she calls to suggest they try phone sex, but at first, Mark's tongue-tied. "What am I going to say," he thinks, "Clinton would know what to say. Blair would know what to say. Even Putin would know what to sayâ€¦"
While certainly not for everybody - there's lots of talk about sex here - the dialogue, particularly the innermost thoughts revealed as the situations unfold, are priceless. And Mitchell and Webb are a scream, as are their various strange acquaintances. The gimmick works like a charm, with an extremely funny script backing it up.
Fans of The Office and other UK-born comedies will likely love this show, currently being aired on YES Plus at 22:55 beginning next Tuesday and which is set for a fourth season in Great Britain next year. And remember - watch what you're thinking; somebody out there might be listening.