Have you watched the sitcom Life Of Riley on BBC1? Seriously, have you watched an entire episode? tvBite has. It's got Caroline Quentin at her most patronising, the new Barnaby from Midsomer displaying the comedic personality of a funeral, and some stage school kids. Now it might not sound very good, but it's actually much worse than that. It's an achievement of sorts, but it is somehow worse than the sum of its appalling parts. And it is now on its third series.TV Bite, 27th April 2011
I think some enterprising media student should do some work on the centrality of the live-in kitchen in the contemporary sitcom. Think how often you see them in domestic comedies (My Family, Outnumbered, Absolutely Fabulous, Lead Balloon), in part, I guess, because they provide a reasonably plausible intersection for every generation of a family. The sitting room, intriguingly, is more frequently used for quieter scenes between just a couple of characters, suggesting that it has taken on the role of an Elizabethan "withdrawing room" (which, as Dr Worsley explained, was the origin of the drawing room). Beyond that, I'm not sure I have a lot to say about Life of Riley, a blended-family comedy that stars Caroline Quentin and Neil Dudgeon. It offers some funny moments and a masterclass in comic acting from Marcia Warren, but it too often goes for retreads of over-familiar jokes, such as a daughter-mother reversal in respect of sexual censoriousness. It's the opposite of Marmite. If you like it I reckon you're going to like it in a take-it-or-leave-it kind of way. And if you don't, you're going to find it tricky to get heated about the fact. It does include a rather sweet baby, though, greeted with a collective crooning "Aahhh!" by the studio audience every time she appears. Which tells you quite a lot about the programme, actually.Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 14th April 2011
To the near-universal bewilderment and depression of TV critics who must feel that their job is a futile one, Life of Riley returns for a third series and a run of eight episodes. The sort of sitcom you'd rather hoped they'd ceased to produce in this more naturalistic age, it sees Caroline Quentin and Neil Dudgeon preside over their combined brood of sons and daughters of varying ages and do battle with their neighbours, with substantially less than hilarious consequences. Tonight, Maddy braces herself to meet her mother's new boyfriend.David Stubbs, The Telegraph, 13th April 2011
It's the set-up for some shameless over-acting as well as a bit of comedy-by-numbers where staples like a puffy bridesmaid's dress and putting a pair of red pants in with a white wash can be expected to get big laughs.
There are some flashes of originality too - like when Maddy tries to persuade her mother not to go through with her wedding and then has to back-track several times.
There's also a lovely scene where Maddy and her husband (Neil Dudgeon) imagine how their lives would be without each other.Jane Simon, The Mirror, 13th April 2011
BBC1's controller recently announced he was axing middle-of-the-road sitcom My Family "to make room for new comedies". Yet here we have Caroline Quentin and Neil Dudgeon as harrassed mum Maddy and stoical dad Jim in a third series of the comfortable, middle-of-the-road, extended family-based sitcom. Like My Family the gags are heavily signposted yet gently delivered, and it's to the credit of the cast if you find yourself chortling. Quentin in a flouncy pink bridesmaid outfit is a vision I'll long remember. But while this has its wittier moments, it's fundamentally designed to appeal to everyone and offend no-one. Sounds familiar.Jane Rackham, Radio Times, 13th April 2011
The Caroline Quentin comedy vehicle returns for a third run. She stars as a middle-aged, multi-tasking mother struggling to cope with her dysfunctional brood. Her stoical husband is played by Neil Dudgeon - aka the new Inspector Barnaby on Midsomer Murders. Perhaps he can investigate the dying jokes here and how this My Family-style sitcom got recommissioned. Tonight, Maddy (Quentin) meets her mother's new boyfriend. But her attempts to talk her out of the relationship lead to wedding plans and Maddy in a big, pink, puffy dress. My Family, incidentally, will air its final series later this year.Michael Hogan, The Telegraph, 12th April 2011