The Persuasionists, it's fair to say, has had attracted a very vocal response from readers of this blog.
One of its stars, Adam Buxton (seen playing Greg, who does not have a beard) was away during transmission of the first episode, but now he responds with this special video.David Thair, BBC Comedy, 27th January 2010
The Persuasionists is a series whose sadness is deepened by beginning a week before the return of Mad Men for a third series next week. Like Mad Men, it is set in an advertising agency; unlike Mad Men, it is forced and fevered, as well as being fantastically, ferociously, un-funny. The first episode, built round the attempt to construct a campaign to sell a Cockney cheese, showed the formula: a scriptwriter, Billy, acts as the ironic foil for a variety of would-be lunatics, absorbed in their idiocy - the aggressively Cockney manufacturer of the cheese, the sadistic Australian agency boss, the daffy blonde who sleeps with the client, the office Lothario who parades about with a huge pencil, which he says is a stand-in (so to speak) for his penis.J Lloyd, The Financial Times, 22nd January 2010
Episode two of The Persuasionists (BBC2) did not reward the theory that this new sitcom needed time to bed in. It's set in an advertising agency and features a talented cast (Adam Buxton, Simon Farnaby, Daisy Haggard) you have probably seen being funny in other things, but if you laughed at this, I'd like to try a handful of whatever pills you're on. Actually, I did laugh once, when a character tried to encapsulate Australian culture with the words "Have you ever worn shorts to a funeral?" but, had I not been watching in a professional capacity, I would have switched over long before that point. It's hard to locate exactly what went wrong with this project, so I'm recording a verdict of death by misadventure.Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, 21st January 2010
Never let it be said I don't give things a chance. The second episode of The Persuasionists was marginally better than last week's yawn-fest, mainly because there was more going on, but "The Handsomeness" was still a laugh-free zone for the most part. Things perk up whenever Daisy Haggard or Simon Farnaby are around acting silly, but it's otherwise a waste of time and talent.
The plot this week involved a campaign for beauty cream "Night Gak", being modeled by bimbo popstar Victoria (Kelly Adams), who revealed to Greg (Adam Buxton) that she's looking for an "ordinary" boyfriend, prompting him to demonstrate his innate facileness in order to woo her. Meanwhile, Emma (Haggard) was given a position of power that led to her quarantining all the ugly employees in the agency's boiler room.
Look, there's definitely potential in an advertising agency sitcom with an episode focusing on beauty, but The Persuasionists is too daft to land any insightful blows, and its surrealism isn't clever enough to feel inspired. The IT Crowd does a far better job of skewering workplace/pop-culture targets via oddball, larger-than-life comedy. Here, you just have Iain Lee acting like he's still reading The 11 O'Clock Show's autocue, and Jarred Christmas bellowing.Dan Owen, Dan's Media Digest, 21st January 2010
HHH&H Head of Strategy, Keaton Flassbender, discusses the strategy behind a famous campaign: Dove - Real Beauty...Keaton Flassbender, BBC Comedy, 21st January 2010
The Persuasionists is a sitcom set in an advertising agency and all I can say is hats off to whoever sold this pup to the BBC.
Episode one saw the creative dynamos of HHHH&H attempting to market Cockney Cheese, brainchild of a tediously stereotypical East End entrepreneur.
Cockney Cheese was a sludgy brown, whilst his follow up product, Cockney Chocolate, pursued the scatological theme and was yellow. "It smells awfully familiar," observed the team, turning up their noses. Uncharitable viewers may be tempted to think a similar smell was emanating from the programme.
In the spirit of constructive criticism, let me say that The Persuasionists isn't as bad as the recent Amanda Holden debacle Big Top. Which isn't saying much, but is indicative of how low the sitcom bar now rests.
The Persuasionists is a mess, infused with that embarrassing mania that invariably takes hold of sitcoms free from humour, plot or characterisation. There is quite a zany foreigner called Keaton, but he is such a shameless - and pale - imitation of Kramer from Seinfeld that he doesn't really count.
The programme's only redeeming feature is Daisy Haggard as odious rich girl Emma. As all around her overact, shout and try out funny accents with increasing volume but to diminishing effect, Haggard somehow fashions a funny performance from the flimsiest of comic material.Harry Venning, The Stage, 19th January 2010
Advertising sitcom The Persuasionists was so imbecilic, you had to see it to believe it. Episode one centred on the marketing campaign for "Cockney Cheese" and the slogan "Cockney Cheese. Leave it aaaaaat !"
"If he's a Cockney man, strolling along in Cockney London," pointed out their client, 'Cockney Jim'. "He wouldn't be surprised to find some Cockney cheese ? Would he ?"