Screen Savors: Pulling no punches

Londoners are back on the dating scene in Hot's Channel 3 award-winning BBC series.

pulling bbc tv show 248.88 (photo credit: )
pulling bbc tv show 248.88
(photo credit: )
We're not one for morning TV much. Working night shifts at the paper, there's rarely any reason to wake up too early to catch anything on the screen. But a recent look at HOT 3's new BBC series Pulling made it clear why the bittersweet comedy was nominated for several awards, but less clear why it's given a 10:15 a.m. and 5:20 p.m. daily time slot. The series, sort of a UK cousin of Sex and the City, focuses on three young women who share a flat in London and their sexual escapades, the title, referring to the slang word used for going out and finding someone to bring home to have sex with. So here we have the threesome of Karen, Donna and Louise: Karen (Tanya Franks of Eastenders), unable to hold her liquor and a ticking time bomb of craziness always a moment away from saying or doing the worst thing possible; Louise (Rebeka Staton), a loud, pretty dense restaurant worker, and poor Donna (Sharon Horgan, who helped create the show), who has to put up with both of them while relearning the dating rituals after breaking up with husband Karl. The episode we caught had Karen and Louise getting thrown out of a club, Louise nursing a bloody lip she earned when she got into a fight inside. Riding in the ambulance, she says to the attendant sadly: "I haven't had sex in two years…two years on Friday. Two years without penetrating sex. Two years since I felt the weight of a man on me, and actually, it wasn't on me, it was behind me…." It's that kind of writing that makes the show a winner, but also makes it not at all suitable to lead off HOT 3's morning programming at 10:15, when plenty of kids could be tuned in. And that's hardly, pardon the expression, the tip of the iceberg. Later on, when Louise decides to put the moves on Oleg, the dishwasher at the restaurant, so she can finally score, he tells her how certain music affects his penis. So the show's funny - you bet, but definitely not for kids. Meanwhile, Donna is trying to live down the fact that she actually slept with Richard, a bloke who brought her home from the club that same awful night in which she had earlier met the debonair fireman Sam. Waking up, she paddles into the bathroom to brush her teeth because "I feel like I've been sucking on a giant rat," only to suddenly remember that she did have sex with the disgusting Richard, a riotous scene in which she practically pulls out her own tongue in revulsion. The performances are outstanding throughout. We particularly liked Franks as Karen, trying desperately to stop the drinking that keeps getting her in trouble. Walking into a school where her schoolteacher friend Anna is calmly reading class a book, Anna asks to wait until she's finished. "Children, do you want a story or money?" yells Karen. "Money," comes the delighted response, with Karen tossing coins at them to get Anna's full attention. But it was her look at the yucky Richard over her cereal bowl while the gent tried to leave the premises unseen after his night with Donna that was so precious, a hysterical moment delivered without uttering a word.' Her attempt to pick up a guy at the local DVD parlor - which she's been advised to frequent to keep away from the booze by Anna - fails, sending her on another bender that matches her up with…Richard, with disastrous results for all. As for the undersexed Louise, It turns out that Oleg lives with his brother and friends in a cramped room typical of the conditions newcomers must find in London, so Louise's plan to have him bring her home for sex falls through. When she brings him home to her place Oleg surprises Louise by asking her to wait, explaining: "I want to get to know you better" before they have sex. "What about your brother?" she asks plaintively as he leaves. There are plenty of laughs here, lots of good acting, and the hand of Harry Thompson, the late UK comedy genius who also created Have I Got News For You and They Think It's All Over, among others. While it may lack some of the zing of Sex and The City, watching the craziness of the UK dating scene on Pulling will provide a few lighter moments and plenty of situations young women looking for Mr. Right will recognize ring true. Pulling airs Sundays and Mondays on HOT Channel 3 at 10:15 a.m. and 5:20 p.m.