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23rd December 2012 09:00:00
Posted by Nick Bryan

Four Festive Comedies Before Christmas

Preview of upcoming Christmas comedies, including Him & Her and Outnumbered from BBC, and Peep Show and Friday Night Dinner from Channel 4.
We've had comedy Christmas specials before, but this year, they're really dominating my personal TV landscape. Outside of Doctor Who and Merlin, most of the Christmas shows that interest me are sitcom episodes, and they're all on before the day itself. I admit, this may be because I'm not watching most drama specials due to my already-blogged problem starting unfamilar series, but that's not the point.

Which is: there are some interesting comedy episodes in the next few days (mostly Christmas Eve), from Him & Her to Peep Show, Outnumbered to Friday Night Dinner, so I've done a quick round-up.

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Him & Her is comparatively easy to write about, because I've already seen it on preview. After the good-but-not-great third series, they've done a straight Christmas special, as newly engaged layabout couple Becky & Steve sit around and enjoy Christmas with their friends and family. Yes, you could argue that nothing really happens.

But if you're bothered by "nothing really happening", I'm not sure why you'd be watching this show in the first place. It's a sweet half hour romp, a pleasant reminder of why we like these people, unconcerned by storylines or drama. Becky and Steve as a couple have some charming scenes, and I teared up towards the end. Also might be good gentle family viewing, as they've kept the gross-out toilet moments down for once. See it on BBC Three at 10PM on the 23rd. (Yes, that's tonight.)

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Outnumbered returns for another Christmas special, after their successful effort last year. We haven't heard from them since then, but a fifth series is underway for next year, and this special is welcome in the meantime. The premise of this show (family + chaos) lends itself pretty easily to Christmas disasters, and they've got Mark Heap this year, who is always great - more about him later.

I know some find Outnumbered unwatchable due to the constant high pitched child-whine - my mother hates it, so I may watch in private this. And very few comedies, to be honest, produce their best work in one-off Christmas specials, but I like the series enough to tune in and hope for a few big laughs and heart-warming scenes. And that's Christmas Eve at 9:35PM on BBC One - in fact, all of these are on Christmas Eve now.

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Peep Show, the most awkward television series in the world, has its series finale on Christmas Eve, and unlike Him & Her, this really is the end of the run - the synopsis suggests no festivity at all. So, will Dobby ever move in with Mark? Will someone finally stop Jeremy from life-coaching before his first client suicide? Good questions, and I'm a little scared to find out the answers.

The series to date has a decent reception - I thought that paintballing episode was hilarious, but will concede the Mark/Dobby plotline slightly rehashes his later years with Sophie. Still funny though, and Jeremy as a life coach is masterful, so looking forward to seeing how they tie it up. That's Christmas Eve at 10PM on Channel 4, and remember the penultimate episode is tonight. Or it's already on 4OD if you can't wait.

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Friday Night Dinner, only in its second year, but already cementing its place as one of the great Channel 4 comedies, even channelling Peep Show at times for the awkwardness crown. The second year had many winning episodes, and concluded with the always-welcome sight of Mark Heap covered in paint. Much like Outnumbered, the premise of centreing every episode around a dinner makes it fairly easy to go into a Christmas special, so this really should be good. Possibly my most anticipated of the four comedies on this list.

And, helpfully, it airs last as well - 10:35 on Christmas Eve on Channel 4. In fact, if you're willing to make use of 4+1 and iPlayer a little, you could have a great Christmas Eve just blasting through all these shows.

So, are you excited for these Christmas sitcom presents? Or is it Doctor Who or nothing for you?