What to Watch on Netflix: Scrotal Recall (2014)

Netflix: Scrotall Recall

Created by: Tom Edge
Starring: Johnny Flynn, Antonia Thomas, Daniel Ings

I have a confession: This is not an objective critique.  I want you to watch this Brit-sitcom.

Scrotal Recall, the latest original Netflix show to catch my attention off the scrolling banner, has the sentiment, humour and charm of the best British romantic comedies.  But we can only indulge in one, six episode season.  At roughly 20 minutes an episode, it simply isn’t enough for me; especially given the beautifully heart-wrenching and all-to-abrupt finale.

Don’t let the abrasive title fool you.  Recall isn’t an overblown sex romp. It has warmth and tenderness while being funny, even, at times, hilarious. Think New Girl rather than It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Here, series creator Tom Edge manages to create something new out of a genre that has failed miserably at being itself for a very long time.

What I liked: The premise offers a candy jar of material: Dylan, a 20-something still trying to figure it all out, contracts chlamydia and must revisit each of his previous sexual partners to let them know the bad news; and there’s a list of them.  The structure is concise: each episode revolves around the memory of an original sexual encounter with each former partner.  However, the writing does not limit itself to the structure or the premise. Dylan runs through his list alphabetically, not chronologically, so many storylines overlap out of sequence and are carried out over numerous episodes allowing for surprises in a genre whose plot is predetermined.

The actors are perfectly cast: Johnny Flynn (Song One) is sympathetic, if detached, as Dylan and serves as a  reliable, thoughtful narrator; Antonia Thomas (Misfits) is heart-wrenching as Dylan’s tortured best friend Evie; and Daniel Ings, now on my radar, shines as Luke, the womanizer of their bestie triad. He manages to deliver predictable lines to hilarious effect and most of my laughter generated from him.  In an early episode, a line as simple as “Oh F*uck OFF” at a three course dinner party had me busting a gut simply because I felt Luke’s genuine frustration; and I laughed harder and louder with each subsequent episode.

What I didn’t like: The show is a bit choppy at times and there are emotional moments that rely too much on the strength of its actors rather than the buildup, but it still works; and if we feel we have missed part of the story, we can hope that they will come back to it in future episodes.

There also isn’t much new here.  It’s a testament to the directors and the cast that they have elevated sitcom tropes, almost all of them, to something better; something charming, heartfelt and even moving. Episode 1 is thoughtfully reminiscent ofFour Weddings and a Funeral and Recall, as I’ll refer to it in polite circles, subsequently lives up to the standard, likely because it still feels fresh.

There is no word yet on whether the show will be picked up for a second series or if people have responded to Netflix’s recent push to watch.  I hope it has because it’s worth it.  That’s my campaign.

imdb: 7.7   netflix: 3.8 stars