Frank Of Ireland (3 stars)

Frank Of Ireland

Daftness conquers all in a sitcom that shuns all subtlety

Channel 4 has a long and rich history of Irish sitcoms, with Father Ted and Derry Girls leading the way for different generations. Merging the slapstick quasi-surrealism of the former with the familial hang-ups of the latter is Frank Of Ireland, a six-parter that does a decent job but is never likely to be spoken of with the same hushed tones of respect. Penned by its two starring Gleesons (Brian and Domhnall) and Michael Maloney, the show revolves around an uneven relationship between Frank (a failed thirtysomething musician played by Brian) and Domhnall's human doormat Doofus (who more often than not lives up to his name).

Frank's on-off relationship with Áine (Sarah Greene of Dublin Murders fame) is further complicated by her connection to a philandering doctor (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) while Doofus gets involved with an active member of the mixed martial arts community (Liz Fitzgibbon). These core relationships form the cornerstone of the mad goings-on that ensue with episodes featuring a terribly cute dog (also called Frank), an am-dram all-female version of 12 Angry Men, and a birthday party which turns into an intervention.

Subtlety is at a premium here as defecation, erections, flatulence, pubic hair, and anal sex all take a bow, while there's an over-reliance on close referencing Hollywood canon fodder such as Misery and Taxi Driver. In contrast to many sitcoms of our day, Frank Of Ireland eschews pathos in favour of straight-down-the line daftness. The Gleesons clearly had fun creating this as well as transposing their daft thoughts into daft performances, while no prizes are on offer for guessing the identity of their final episode's cameo turn.

Channel Four, Thursday 15 April, 10pm; all episodes available on All 4 at 10.30pm.

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