Intelligence, Sky One
- Brian Donaldson
- 24 February 2020
David Schwimmer stars in an enjoyably silly spy sitcom
With news that Friends will reunite for a one-off HBO special (fans will hope that it's a far cry from the 2016 red-sofa cringefest featuring five-sixths of them), their individual outputs since 2004's finale will come under the microscope once again. Some folk will maintain that David Schwimmer's finest post-Central Perk moment was his 2018 parody of the doppelganger who stole beer from a Blackpool store. This is being slightly unfair to a man who directed an acclaimed sex-abuse drama Trust, portrayed a convincing Robert Kardashian in The People v OJ Simpson, and played an uptight though ultimately endearing version of himself in the Curb Your Enthusiasm season which focussed on Larry being cast opposite Schwimmer in The Producers.
And here he is cropping up in Intelligence, a new workplace sitcom (the locale being GCHQ in Cheltenham) written by Nick 'Mr Swallow' Mohammed who also appears as Joseph, a naïve, starstruck and largely hopeless data analyst who fails to master the most basic of cyber-surveillance tasks. Schwimmer is cast as Jerry Bernstein, a sharp-suited egomaniac drafted in from the NSA to stabilise relations between the US and UK's spying businesses. Schwimmer channels a little bit of Alec Baldwin's Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock and adds some dashes of every delusional sitcom figurehead from David Brent to Basil Fawlty with his amusingly over-exaggerated lack of tact allied to an utter inability to consider anyone else's point of view. Bernstein sees himself as a troubleshooter, but his scattergun ineptitude reigns supreme across six fun episodes.
The laughs aren't exactly constant or especially loud, but Schwimmer is as enjoyably daft as the rest of the cast which includes a starchy office manager Christine (Sylvestra Le Touzel) and nervy middle-aged virgin Mary (Jane Stanness) who might not be all she appears on the surface. A second season has already been commissioned so the barmy misadventures of these security-minded losers get a further chance to infiltrate our affections.
Episodes watched: 6 of 6
Intelligence airs on Sky One, Fridays, 9pm; all episodes available on NOW TV.