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Coupling: The Complete Seasons 1-4 (2001-2004) – DVD Review

Coupling: The Complete Seasons 1-4 DVD cover art


Written by: Steven Moffat
Starring: Jack Davenport, Gina Bellman, Sarah Alexander, Kate Isitt, Ben Miles, Richard Coyle


  • All twenty-eight episodes to date of the series
  • Interviews with the cast and crew
  • Photo shoot
  • Outtakes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Running audio commentaries on select episodes with cast members and crew
  • Featurette: The Making of Coupling from script to screen
  • Photo Gallery
  • Cast Bios

Released by: BBC Home Video
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Buy it and laugh a lot.

[ad#longpost]Steve (Davenport) and Susan (Alexander) get interested in each other and while they’re trying to get a relationship started, a few roadblocks pop up–which are the usual roadblocks when it comes to relationships–their friends and exes. On one side of the extremes surrounding the budding couple are their insecure best friends, Jeff (Coyle) and Sally (Isitt). Jeff is obsessive and extremely anxious in intimate situations, and is constantly coming up with crazy theories (my favorite being the sock gap: the theory that if you don’t get your socks off before your trousers while undressing before sex, you are suddenly just a naked man in socks and will probably not get any) and scary lists about anxieties. Sally, Susan’s best friend, is a woman with a mission: never to age. To achieve this, she worships moisturizer and claims to only smile at single men, as they are the only ones worth the risk of losing elasticity through a facial expression.

On the other side of the coin are the happy couple’s confident exes, Patrick (Miles) and Jane (Bellman). Patrick, Susan’s ex, is a very physically well-endowed gentleman whose blood flow rarely makes it up to his brain. Jane is the woman with whom Steve happens to be in the middle of a liaison when he makes a date with Susan. She is incredibly self-involved and very manipulative, with the ability to see through anyone she deems unattractive. The characters’ relationships with each other evolve quite a bit over the course of the series. During season four, Jeff leaves for the island of Lesbos, however, and a nervous yet cute guy named Oliver (Richard Mylan) rounds out the cast to a total of six again. He takes a fancy to Jane, and she just can’t seem to shake him. Even if these characters don’t remind you of your friends, you know someone like each of them, which makes them so believable. Watching all of them interact is quite a wild ride.

I don’t normally like sitcoms, and I was skeptical about this one even though friends had told me how funny they thought it was. Surprisingly enough, they were right—this show is downright hilarious. Packed with lots of sex and British humor, the show is well written and rather addictive. Unfortunately, American viewers try to compare it with Friends or Seinfeld, but it’s a different animal. It feels much more polished than any American sitcom I’ve seen, standing on its own with finely crafted farce and a much different pace than either of those series from this side of the pond.

Jack Davenport makes a discovery in 'Coupling'

The show does well primarly due to the writing. Steven Moffat based the series on the experiences of himself and his wife, Sue Beryl (who produces the show), dealing with their friends and exes during their courtship and marriage. His dialogue is sharp and incredibly blunt about all kinds of subjects that most series (in America, anyway) would consider taboo, or at the very least, an advertising deathblow. He doesn’t appear to be writing these things to shock, but instead to be genuinely funny, which they are.

Aside from the content and quick, racy dialogue, Moffat is also a master of farce, a style that is rarely done correctly. Think Moliére for the 21st century: there is a unique formula to the misunderstandings, double-entendres, and tiny lies that get out of hand in this show, and it works well. However, the clever writing would be useless without good actors who can pull off all of the gags, which they do. They also have a good director to lead them; the scenes and flow of each episode are finely crafted. Farce, even excellently written farce, does not work without the visual gags that accompany it, and it’s clear that helmer Martin Dennis knows how to put it all together.

Steven Moffat, writer of Coupling

The set is also stacked with features. Each season’s discs have different bits, which is nice because a lot of the content, in the interviews or commentaries, is specific to the individual season instead of the series as a whole. Considering they were all originally released as season sets, this only makes sense. This gives you an idea about the evolution and direction of the series instead of just an overview with no other earlier perspectives. Each interview (some with cast members, some with producers or writer Moffat), gives some interesting behind-the-scenes information rather than fluff like “it was really interesting making the series…”

The commentaries (which appear on episodes from the last three seasons with various members of the cast and crew each time) tends to be very light and full of jokes between the participants. It mainly focuses on an analysis of the details within the episode, whether it’s the meaning of what was written, what wardrobe choices were made, or the particular experiences of the actors. But rather than sinking into a collection of inside jokes and useless banter between cast and crew, you actually are left with an impression of what was going on behind the scenes during the episode and, in some cases, throughout the series (the commentaries seem to have been made during season 4). The outtakes, deleted scenes, and photo shoot are cute enough, but they’re the closest thing to filler on the discs. The featurette, interviews, and commentary are the gems of the features.

Jack Davenport being interviewed, from the Coupling DVD set

If you enjoy good comedy, pick up this set. There are rumors that there may not be a season 5, so run out and get the whole box so you can enjoy what’s already been shot.

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