Dead Boss - In The Press

Fox has handed a put pilot commitment to single-camera prison comedy Dead Boss, from Warner Bros TV and Aaron Kaplan's Kapital Entertainment.

Written by Nellie Andreeva. Deadline Hollywood, 9th September 2013

This show isn't terrible, but I often had the feeling that the production was doing its utmost to hide weak scripts and sign-posted jokes. The exuberant piano-based soundtrack became intolerable by Episode 4, and I wasn't a fan of how broad everything was played. It was too much of a cartoon for me, really.

Written by Dan Owen. Dan's Media Digest, 13th July 2012

Dead Boss comes to the end of its run and it's all change at the prison. Helen is moved to a new wing, where she finds a confidante in the shape of guest star Miranda Richardson. But creepy Christine makes every effort to maintain her friendship with her former cellmate, offering a unique take on bonding over arts and crafts: "Slasher bit the head off a sparrow and we're doing potato prints with its blood." Meanwhile the murder case becomes clearer - but only enough to allow for a second series.

Rebecca Nicholson, The Guardian, 11th July 2012

Tony Blackburn is set for some romance as he guest stars in tonight's comedy murder mystery Dead Boss.

The Sun, 5th July 2012

Eight weeks into her term and with her lawyer unwittingly working against her and fiancé entirely intentionally seducing her sister, Helen still labours under the misapprehension that people on the outside care about her when it's really her fellow inmates who are willing to put themselves on the line for her. Although Top Dog's newly defected but long defective posse prove to be of limited use as she resolves to fight her own cause. Some crafty sight gags and game performances (especially Jennifer Saunders in the Matt Berry role of the psychologically suspect big cheese) aside, Dead Boss is still pulling its punches a little, lacking the iron-fist-in-velvet-glove smarts of Porridge while pulling back from the sort of genuine depravity that could really mark it out. Enjoyable enough, though.

Gabriel Tate, Time Out, 28th June 2012

The murder case rumbles on, and suspicion begins to spread through Entirely Tiles as Mrs Bridges' reign of non-Nespresso terror continues. Mary uses her unlikely "very sensitive bitch-dar" to probe the lottery situation, with Henry's help. Meanwhile, behind bars, Top Dog ditches her posse after a cigarette racket throws up a menthol ("a pudding fag"), causing the bereft gang to latch on to Helen. She's using her prison time to learn about the law, mostly from reading John Grisham novels, but with Jennifer Saunders's governess otherwise occupied, things don't look too hopeful.

Rebecca Nicholson, The Guardian, 27th June 2012

BBC3's Dead Boss sees Holly Walsh move behind the camera on a show she co-writes with Sharon Horgan. Keen to find out more about the show, Giggle Beats caught up with an exhausted Holly Walsh to find out if everything had gone according to plan...

Written by James Harle. Giggle Beats, 25th June 2012

Confession time. I didn't review Dead Boss (BBC3) when it began last week. Here's why. I'm a big fan of Sharon Horgan, who co-wrote and stars in it. Pulling, which she also co-wrote and starred in, was fabulous, one of my comedy highlights of recent times. But this was pretty lame - and tame - in comparison. I wanted to like it, but couldn't.

So I ignored it. Perhaps it needed time to bed in (pah!), and would get into its stride in week two. I told myself I was giving it a chance by deferring judgment, when of course I was really simply bottling it.

This episode is maybe a bit better. There are some nice lines: "Mia casa, tua casa, is that German, erm, mein Kampf is your Kampf?" Horgan's character Helen tells her new prison exchange cellmate Gertie (played by Anna Crilly, whose German accent is pretty much the same as the indeterminate eastern European one she has as Magda in Lead Balloon). And some nice performances (Emma Pierson's stands out, as the dead boss's widow). But, let's be honest, it's not good - neither wonderfully anarchic nor wonderfully rude, as Pulling was. It lacks that conviction and confidence. It's old-fashioned, unadventurous and, more serious still, unfunny.

Oh God, my confession gets worse, it was a bigger bottle even than that. Sharon Horgan follows me on Twitter. I was like an excited little boy when she did, given that I don't just follow her, I practically stalk her. Now I'm like someone who's pestered her forever for a kiss, she's finally relented (out of pity), and I'm running around saying her breath stinks. Let's face it though; it does. Not literally, but her sitcom does.

I say she follows me, I'm sure she doesn't any more. Oh well. Nothing - and no one - comes between me and critical integrity ... Yeah, shush now.

Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, 21st June 2012

Good ol' Sharon Horgan. She so rarely puts a foot wrong that it's a wonder she isn't representing Great Britain in the Olympics balance beam event. Nothing changes as we reach the third episode of Dead Boss, where she continues to ring up the laughs with a performance alternates between flustered, histrionic and deadpan. Tonight, Horgan's character, Helen, is lumbered with a new cellmate as part of a prison exchange with Germany: Gertrude (Anna Crilly), 'a 46-year-old widowed cannibal'. Helen's charged with the task of going to 'show her where she can get a souvenir tattoo done - that sort of thing' by the warden. Helen can't fail unless she wants her legal aid application quashed. Sounds hackneyed. Actually, it's anything but. Very funny.

Alexi Duggins, Time Out, 21st June 2012

Helen Stephens, falsely imprisoned for murder, is forced to share her cell with a German cannibal on a prisoner-exchange. Played by the splendid Anna Crilly (of Lead Balloon), even she can't rise above the jokey German accents and weak gags in this curious misfire from Sharon Horgan.

There are good moments, just not enough. In this third episode they belong to Edward Hogg as Henry, a workmate with an unfortunate centre parting who is secretly obsessed by Helen. He can't quite keep a lid on his feelings during a prison visit, telling his beloved that her shampoo makes her "smell like the inside of a taxi".

Alison Graham, Radio Times, 21st June 2012

If the second part of last week's double bill seemed slow, here's a cracker of an episode to drive the series along. Anna Crilly (Magda in Lead Balloon) steals the show as German cannibal Gertrude Wermers, who comes to the prison on an exchange programme, much to Top Dog's delight. In the office, there's more news about the mystery of the lottery syndicate, and Mr Bridge's widow makes her presence felt by removing the Nespresso machine.

Rebecca Nicholson, The Guardian, 20th June 2012

Sharon Horgan returns to the always slightly dodgy world of the BBC Three sitcom with this new series about a woman wrongly sent to prison for murdering her boss.

In Dead Boss, innocent convict Helen Stephens is trying her best to overturn her conviction, which is not easy, as seemingly everyone around her is keen on her staying banged up. Her unhinged, arsonist cellmate Christine (Bryony Hannah) doesn't want her new friend to leave her; Governor Margaret (Jennifer Saunders) can't be bothered with the paperwork; the prison's reclusive "boss" Top Dog (Lizzie Roper) once was Stephens' bullied substitute teacher whose taunts leader her to murder her own husband; and former co-worker Henry (Edward Hogg) may seem keen on getting Stephens out, but he is a obsessive stalker who wants her to relay only on him.

The show began with a double-bill, which seemed like a good move, given that the second was clearly the stronger of the two. Both had their moments, but the first seemed to be concerned with setting up the situation more than the actual comedy - which is to be expected, really. The second episode, in which the prison runs a quiz where the top prize was five years off winner's sentence, had the better plot and, on the whole, was lots of fun.

I know some critics have been likened it, unfavourably, to Porridge, which was inevitable I suppose. However, both shows have major differences in terms of content, casting, and studio audiences (Porridge had one). It might even be better to think of Dead Boss as a comedy drama rather than a straight sitcom. Oh, and stop comparing the two.

Then again everyone else will probably be saying the same thing: "Why did they cancel Pulling?"

Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 18th June 2012

The premise of new BBC3 murder-mystery sitcom Dead Boss, co-written by and starring Sharon Horgan, is that Helen Stephens (Horgan) has been wrongly convicted of murdering her employer, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Further conspiring against her are a useless solicitor, her venal sister, a sinister prison governor (Jennifer Saunders, left) and a script that displayed recidivist tendencies to criminal one-liners. Perhaps the series will settle, and the actors take a cue from Bryony Hannah's quirky turn as Helen's pyromaniac cellmate.

Mike Higgins, The Independent on Sunday, 17th June 2012

I realise BBC3 comedies are not aimed at the more considered grown-up, but nothing will stop me from saying: "Dead Boss? Dead loss, more like." This was a prison sitcom, with one normal person (Sharon Horgan as a woman wrongly convicted of murder) surrounded by pantomime fools. The stars of Porridge will be turning in their graves. Admittedly, Jennifer Saunders was good value as the governor and there was the odd decent line (a misunderstanding involving "cellmate" and "soulmate" made me laugh), but the overall effect was flatter than a long stretch in Norfolk. It had one of those ill-advised plinky "light" jazz scores (think Dirk Gently) designed to accentuate the absence of laughter. By the end of the second episode, I was rattling the bars myself.

Phil Hogan, The Observer, 17th June 2012

The funniest new show of the week, possibly the year, was BBC3's prison-based comedy Dead Boss starring Sharon Horgan.

It's easily the most amusing thing I've seen behind bars since Jeffrey Archer. It has a sharp script, a great cast and some beautifully worked set pieces. Plus, for those who care about the finer details, Emma Pierson from Hotel Babylon guest stars in it wearing one of those dresses she likes to wear.

Ian Hyland, The Daily Mail, 16th June 2012

Forget cosy Miranda, Sharon Horgan is the funniest woman on TV for viewers who prefer their comedy with a murky twist. With two new shows on air, she tells Gerard Gilbert this is a golden age for female-led sitcoms. Here, we introduce five of the best.

Written by Gerard Gilbert. The Independent, 16th June 2012

I'm not a fan of the trend to air double-bills of new sitcoms, but in the case of Dead Boss is was a godsend. The first half-hour wasn't terrible, but it was fighting a losing battle. The second episode was definitely stronger.

Written by Dan Owen. Dan's Media Digest, 15th June 2012

We're glad that the first two episodes were shown together, as Dead Boss feels like it's a grower more than an instant hit. Episode 1, while rapid and amusing, isn't the strongest start. However, by Episode 2 the pacing feels tighter, the plot more coherent, the characters more defined, and as a result the jokes land better.

Written by Rob Smedley. Cult Box, 15th June 2012

At the start, this looked like another trying-hard-to-be-wacky-without-actually-being-very-funny BBC Three comedy, but by halfway through the first episode it got into its stride, with succinct characterisation, sly humour and a winning main character.

Written by Terry Ramsey. The Daily Telegraph, 15th June 2012

I'll reserve judgement on Dead Boss, Sharon Horgan and Holly Walsh's comedy about a woman wrongly convicted of murder. First episodes are often awkward affairs, and this one didn't break the rule. But I liked the dodgy solicitor who offered a "no win, some fee" service and there was a nice moment when Horgan's character found her cocky insults about a prison tough and her cronies being repeated to them by a guilelessly supportive cell-mate. "I have been completely taken out of context," she stammers, raising the question of exactly what context would take the sting out of "mentally stunted trolls". Give it time.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 15th June 2012

Dead Boss was enticing enough with its stellar cast, excellent writing credentials and intriguing premise, but in the event, this début episode was more Dead Loss than anything else.

Written by Keith Watson. Metro, 15th June 2012

It apparently took Sharon Horgan and Holly Walsh several years to bring Dead Boss to screen and it seems it was certainly worth the wait as all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode. But the fun didn't stop there... oh no...

Written by Elliot Gonzalez. 14th June 2012

Well, if you find modern sitcoms too boring and cringe-based, Dead Boss is one of the best straight-up wacky efforts I've seen in a while.

Written by Nick Bryan. The Digital Fix, 14th June 2012

Sharon Horgan shines as usual but this is an ensemble piece and everyone gives an equally strong and memorable performance.

The Custard TV, 14th June 2012

Sharon Horgan seems to have randomly plucked her new sitcom out of the air, says Jack Seale.

Written by Jack Seale. The Radio Times, 14th June 2012

Older Press Clippings