Can Sky One’s new comedy “Starlings” fly above the rest? Or has it fallen out of the nest?
On paper Starlings looks a promising new comedy with a great cast including Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey) and Lesley Sharp (Scott and Bailey), and wriiten by Steve Edge and Matt King (who also star.) My immediate reaction thinking; “Sky are onto a winner here!” When I sat down poised for what could possibly have been the new “My Family”, or even the “Royle Family,” what I got didn’t quite come up to knee height of the aforementioned. Having said that, it’s a well placed Sunday fare programme, placed in the 8pm slot, and a family orientated view that does well on a Sunday evening. Think Heartbeat, Larkrise To Candleford and your on the right track with the pace; just less so with the quality of story and humour.
We open with the birth of a new-born baby; an expectant father doing everything by the book (while getting on Bell, the pregnant daughter’s nerves), and the rest of the family on tenderhooks waiting for the new arrival. So far so good, you might think. Works for One Born Every Minute. Except this is missing the warmth and emotion of the event. The overcrowded house of family members and distant relatives Fergie and Loz serve to supply the shenanigans; Gravy (who we’re yet to learn why he’s called that) loses his spider, granddad’s talking in his sleep and keeping teenage Charlie awake when she’s forced to share a room with him (due to the new arrival), and dad Terry (Coyle) making mysterious phone calls to hide the money worries from his wife Jan (Sharp). It’s all rather well…domestic!
Speaking of Lesley Sharp, I’m a huge fan of her work, never done a bad project as far as I’m concerned, but in this series opener she was woefully underused, as we focused pretty much on Terry, Bell and her ex Reuben. And did the wardrobe department get a deal on garish printed silk dressing gowns for the cast?
There’s nothing wrong with Starlings in general. It’s a pleasant enough programme with likeable characters; it just lacked anything to coerce me to want to spend my time week in week out. The comedy – well wasnt comedy, the domesticness of the situation; was too close to real life to be entertaining. I’m all for realistic, but where the Royle Family was genius at making the mundane and domestic hilarious, Starlings made me focus on my own domestic chores, looking at the clock and wondering what to have for my dinner instead. Not what I watch TV for.
I shall watch episode two, to see if it picks up the pace and story, but it would need to seriously shift in gear to make me want to spend my time each week.
Starlings, like its namesake travels in a flock, however fails to evoke the personality to fly above its competition.