Press clippings Page 2
Gemma, the titular Mrs Jones (Coupling's Sarah Alexander), edges further towards an intergenerational clinch with new lodger and her son's friend from travelling, Billy, the dreamy Robert Sheehan from Misfits. Of course, things couldn't go to plan - and a dustup ensues at a school play, doing little to temper Gemma's perpetual state of flustered embarrassment. The only effective way to distinguish whether Me And Mrs Jones is supposed to be a comedy or not would be to add a laugh track as a rough guide. There are few clues otherwise in this mirthless dreck.Ben Arnold, The Guardian, 15th October 2012
Me and Mrs Jones and Friday Night Dinner are both comedies of domestic life, both of them making an appeal to a sense of shared experience. And one of them works and one of them absolutely doesn't. The one that doesn't is Me and Mrs Jones, which is odd really. It's written by Oriane Messina and Fay Rusling, who have Green Wing and Smack the Pony on their CV, and its comic premise is perfectly workable - a single mother who finds herself falling for her oldest son's best friend. You can play this cross-generational attraction for anguished drama - as ITV's Leaving did recently - but its embarrassments obviously have comic potential too. So why doesn't it bite?
My own explanation would centre on something Gemma's daughter says to her as she drops her off in the playground, after a flustered school run full of slightly effortful blunders: "Stop being a geeky loser." You've hit the nail on the head there, kid, I thought. That, or something like it, is what's written in Gemma's character notes, and it's why we've already had to endure one of those unconvincing scenes in which someone stammers and over-protests after being misheard. Is she really this dim, you think, or is she just written this way? The question doesn't go away as Gemma is forced through a number of over-familiar comic set-pieces - the clumsy answerphone message, agonising over what to wear for a date - all the time behaving not as if she's directed by a recognisable inner psychology but by the need to appear as ditzy as possible. At times, it's desperate, as when Gemma appears from a changing room having tried a dress on over what she's already wearing. Sure. That happens a lot.
Even more problematic is her inconsistency. Gemma is flustered when she really doesn't need to be, but unperturbed when awkwardness might actually make some kind of sense. "Uh! I feel like a teenager on her very first date," she confides, as she gets ready for a night out in front of her son's handsome young friend. A couple of lines later she's blithely explaining to him how she'll use her unshaved legs as contraception. So she's reduced to gibbering silliness by a man she doesn't appear attracted to and coolly overshares with one who notionally has got under her skin. I've never been a single mother in such circumstances, it's true, but I'm still not convinced that's how the world works. The casting doesn't help either. Sarah Alexander looks far too young to be convincing as the mother of a grown-up son and isn't the kind of comedy actress who can finesse the thing into caricature. But the real problem is a script that repeatedly requires her to behave with wild improbability. "I may have slightly over-reacted," she says at one point. Just a bit, Gemma, just a bit.Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 15th October 2012
Meanwhile on BBC One another family based sitcom had just begun, and while this series should be a hit, for some reason it feels a little... drab.
Me and Mrs Jones revolves around divorced mother of three Gemma Jones (Sarah Alexander), who is trying to raise two daughters, while her son has just returned from China to 'find himself'. Gemma not only work and family issues, but also has to deal with her ex-husband Jason (Neil Morrissey), who's now going out with a younger Swedish lady.
In terms of the cast, it looks great. The writers, Oriane Messina and Fay Rusling, worked with Alexander on Smack the Pony and later on one of my favourite shows, Green Wing. And Alexander as well as Morrissey are both established sitcom actors. But I just didn't find this show very funny.
Don't get me wrong, there are some laughs, such as the scene when Morrissey is at a children's football match and celebrates one of his daughters scoring a goal - unaware his face is covered in lipstick. However, most of it felt flat.
It could the fact that I'm familiar with their past work; I was expecting something more surreal and unusual from the writers. Not only was this not surreal enough, it wasn't as grounded in reality as either Friday Night Dinner, which also features a Green Wing actress in the form of Tamsin Greig, or the forthcoming Hebburn.
The show also featured the two daughters vomiting a lot, which was slightly off-putting. Personally, I feel that vomit and 'sick humour' are best applied under the "Elizabeth Mainwaring" rule - it's much funnier when it isn't shown, because the image in your head is much better than the one on screen.
Then again, it could just be that this episode had to follow perhaps the most awkward and unfunny episode of Have I Got News for You there's been in years. So in hindsight, Me and Mrs Jones probably deserves a second chance. Another viewing after a more joyful atmosphere may improve the output. At least I hope so.Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 15th October 2012
Me and Mrs Jones opens with a goldfish in a toilet bowl. I can only guess that the goldfish took one look at the script and attempted to escape before his television career suffered irreparable damage.
Of the many unkind epithets suggested by Roget's Thesaurus, 'excruciating' is the one that best describes this show. Until I watched it, I did not realise it was physically possible to grit one's teeth, curl one's toes and clench one's sphincter all at the same time. And stay that way for half an hour.
Purportedly a romantic comedy, it is about as light and fluffy as a breeze block. Not the most sparkling of analogies, I grant you, but better than anything the lazy and witless script of Me and Mrs Jones had to offer.
"Houdini would have trouble getting out of this dress," grumbles our scatty, sexy heroine Gemma, as she writhes around in a store changing room. Houdini? The escapologist who died 88 years ago? Watch out for further thrillingly contemporary references to the general strike, Irish home rule, speakeasies and the disappearance of Amy Johnson.
Where the show strives to charm, it succeeds in irritating. I am a fan of Sarah Alexander, who plays Gemma, but here I found her wackiness so mannered as to be unbearable.
But the worst thing about Me and Mrs Jones is that no part of it rings true - not the characters, not the relationships and definitely not the dialogue. Romantic comedy needs to appear effortless, but every minute of this contrived, constipated monstrosity screams with the strain of it all.
A solidly dependable cast, including Nathaniel Parker and sitcom stalwart Neil Morrissey, tries so desperately hard to unearth humour from the barren comic landscape that I actually began to pity them. This is particularly true of Jonathan Bailey, lumbered with the Herculean and ultimately futile task of lending sympathy to Alfie, Mrs Jones' unremittingly loathsome eldest son, just back from his gap year abroad. Apart from a big mouth, an overinflated ego and a penchant for harassing women on public transport, Alfie also has a best mate in tow, who just might hit it off with his mum over the next five episodes.Harry Venning, The Stage, 15th October 2012
No one actually behaves or speaks like these sitcom people.Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, 13th October 2012
Slow start to comedy about yummy mummy with love troubles.Veronica Lee, The Arts Desk, 13th October 2012
The opening scene of BBC1's new Friday night sitcom Me And Mrs Jones featured a goldfish swimming around a toilet bowl. Fortunately the goldfish was quickly rescued. And it wasn't the only lucky escape it had.
Thanks to its seven-second memory, it will have no recollection of the ensuing half-hour of clunking, cliché-ridden comedy...Ian Hyland, Daily Mail, 13th October 2012
This surprisingly standard-issue sitcom from the Green Wing team stars Sarah Alexander (Coupling) as Gemma Jones, divorced from Jason (Neil Morrissey) and juggling maternal duties with an attempt to kick-start her love life. It's the candidates jockeying for boyfriend position who provide the thrust of the action, with safe choice Tom (Nathaniel Parker) vying for pole position with toy boy Billy (Robert Sheehan).Carol Carter, Metro, 12th October 2012