The British comedy Gates, starring Welsh actors Tom Ellis and Joanna Page, recently began streaming in the US. Is it a must-watch or a maybe-one-day show? Read on to find out.
The five-episode Gates revolves around Mark (Tom Ellis, Miranda, The Fades) and Helen (Joanna Page, Gavin & Stacey, Breathless) Pearson and the awkward situations they get into with fellow parents at nine-year-old daughter Chloe’s (Mari Ann Bull, Framed) new school.
It’s the first day of school in the series opener, and Helen, well-schooled in the troubles that lurk by the school gates (“These gates are a jungle!”) from parents who are over-eager to get other mums and dads involved in school-related activities, attempts to educate Mark in her parents-avoidance strategies. He thinks she’s taking all this too seriously, but she knows better as she…
Whoops! Too late. The obnoxiously cheerful Australian mum Mia (Ella Kenion, Hardware) is already at the window of Mark’s work van, welcoming the newbies and chatting a mile a minute about the imminent parents coffee do.
Clearly Mark is a nice guy but not a quick learner, as it takes mere minutes for him to get roped into giving a talk to the students about his job as a builder, as well as hosting the now-rescheduled coffee do at the Pearson home after school, (no) thanks to Mia and the eager-beaver artist mum Sarah (Catherine Shepherd, Cardinal Burns).
Sounds like it could be a half-hour series with a fair number of laughs, right?
Um, no. Not really.
Gates is like Outnumbered meets Rev. meets (with a bit of a stretch) Teachers, but without the stuff that made those shows multi-season hits. (By the way, Hulu streams all three.)
I had high hopes for Gates, what with Ellis and Page leading the cast, and the talented Sue Johnston (Waking the Dead) costarring as the alcohol-inclined teacher Miss Hunter, Tony Gardner (Last Tango in Halifax) playing Sarah’s prat of a husband Aiden, and William Andrews (Broadchurch) as the young headmaster Mr. Gould.
But I found Episode 1 to be meh, with nary a chuckle to be had. While Mark came across as a relatively sympathetic character, pretty much every other was irksome (even Mark, sometimes), and the situations felt over-the-top contrived (even for a sitcom), so I didn’t bother watching the rest of the series to see if it got better.
I get that viewers who relate to the Pearsons and their situations might find Gates hilarious. That’s cool. The thing is, neither I nor anyone else should have to relate to either in order for a comedy to deliver consist laughs. Millions of people have lol’ed plenty to brilliant comedies such as Outnumbered and Rev. — without being parents or vicars.
But check it out for yourself. Gates is streaming in the US exclusively at Hulu Plus.