TV review: Flowers, Season 2, Channel 4 (4 stars)

TV review: Flowers, Season 2, Channel 4

Second series of Will Sharpe's dysfunctional family comedy-drama – starring Olivia Colman and Julian Barratt – ramps up the mayhem

In the meditative final episode of Flowers' second series, Japanese illustrator Shun gets stuck high up a tree in a secluded wood. An innocuous passage, perhaps, but highly symbolic of the Flowers universe where almost every character appears to be one false step away from total calamity. While the first series from 2016 focused on the depressive mental state of Maurice Flowers (Julian Barratt), he seems to be getting a reasonable grip on his sanity while everyone else around him is sliding slowly towards the abyss.

As with the opening series, the early moments of willful, slightly irritating quirkiness are replaced by something containing much more heart as big emotions and small gestures come to the fore. Daughter Amy (Sophia Di Martino) takes most of the psychological heat across these six episodes, convinced that some strange ancient curse is imposing its will on the family while her only saviour comes in the form of an ageing priest and ex-junkie Hylda, played as superbly as you'd have expected by Harriet Walter.

With everyone wracked by some manner of guilt and shame (Olivia Colman and Barratt as the collapsing married couple expertly display this in their verbal ticks and subtle expressions) most of the comedic flourishes are provided by Daniel Rigby as Amy's constantly furious brother Donald, now trying to reinvent himself as a moustachioed super-plumber self-dubbed The Pipe Man.

Taken as a whole, the second bunch of Flowers turns out to be a finely balanced six-parter, though large chunks of the frenetically filmed and wildly scripted show (written and directed by Will Sharpe who plays the sad Shun) are likely to cause migraine symptoms in some viewers. Without giving anything away, a third series is not outwith the bounds of possibility and in the context of the patchy comedy and drama output on Channel 4 these days, this would be a welcome development.

Episodes watched: six of six

Flowers is on Channel 4, Mon 11–Fri 15 Jun, 10pm.

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