There aren’t a lot of comic actors who can create repugnant TV characters that are at once hilarious and endearing. Most recently, Ricky Gervais’s David Brent, Steve Carell’s Michael Scott, Larry David as himself…and who else?
Definitely Alan Partridge. Created by comic genius Steve Coogan, Partridge is a fatuous, self-absorbed, rude, mindless, pitiable TV talk show host. A huge phenomenon in Britain in the ’90s and early ’00s, Coogan’s character appeared in a string of one-offs and series, including I’m Alan Partridge (newly available in the U.S. on DVD).
The genius of this show is its Seinfeldian nothingness: No epic plot twists during the six-episode Series 1 story arc — just Alan whiling away his days annoying the staff at the bland Linton Travel Tavern, where he lives in exile not only from his marriage but from his failed TV career (he’s temporarily sidelined as a pre-dawn radio DJ).
Coogan makes Partridge’s dreary distractions — disassembling a trouser press out of boredom, hooking up with a deranged fan (in a pitch-black, laugh-out-loud-funny sex scene), shopping for windshield-wiper fluid — into comedy for the ages.
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