Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Dry Mangan Follows Quirky Lisa Kudrow into the Therapist's Chair

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Dry Mangan Follows Quirky Lisa Kudrow into the Therapist's Chair

Article excerpt

Byline: Guy Pewsey The Viewer

Hang Ups Channel 4, 10pm HAVE any of the six main cast members of Friends topped the performances they gave in those 10 years of light comedy? I'd argue that one has: Lisa Kudrow, who played the eccentric Phoebe Buffay. Her depiction of Valerie Cherish in The Comeback, a comedy about an actress struggling to stay relevant in Hollywood, was uncomfortably self-referential and painfully funny, earning her two Emmy nominations. But she also created and starred in Web Therapy as a self-serving and emotionally stunted therapist who dealt with her patients via webcam.

Short, sharp and full of A-List cameos from Meryl Streep, Meg Ryan, Lily Tomlin, Gwyneth Paltrow and, erm, Natasha Bedingfield, it went relatively unnoticed internationally. No wonder the Brits thought it ripe for a recycle.

So now we have Hang Ups, an inoffensive and pleasant new offering cowritten by Stephen Mangan. He plays Richard, a therapist who decides to start counselling his patients via the internet. For the most part this is where the comparison to the original ends, and this is an intelligent move. The most effective adaptations of screen gems are not afraid to make changes the US versions of The Office or Shameless, for example, used the spirit and concept of the originals without being too rigid and, therefore, created something new and interesting. Hang Ups does this in spades but maybe went a little far in its defection from its source material.

Web Therapy's episodes were each a few minutes long, presenting a webcam conversation between Kudrow's Fiona Wallice and her latest client or family member. Hang Ups is a full half-hour and the therapy sessions are mere interludes between scenes of Richard's family life with his wife Karen (Katherine Parkinson) and his criminally cliched teenage children whose equally annoying friends never seem to leave. …

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