Nighty Night [TV Series] (2004)

Sub-Genres - Sitcom [TV]  |   Run Time - 30 min.  |   Countries - UK  |  
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This dark British comedy drama earned a devoted cult following in America when it premiered on the Oxygen cable network in summer 2004, just months after making its bow on BBC3. On first glance, Nighty Night's peculiar tone, grotesque pathos, and uneasy humor might seem like a strange fit for the Oprah network -- but only if one assumes that all women's television must pander to the Lifetime movie-of-the-week mindset. In fact, the premise of Nighty Night might almost work as a Meredith Baxter vehicle: attractive, fortyish blonde finds out her husband has cancer. But in the twisted world of Nighty Night creator/star Julia Davis, this well-worn situation provides the jumping-off point for a delicious case study in how to turn other people's sympathy into an unlimited license for bad behavior. Davis portrays Jill Tyrrell, a West Countries hairdresser who sees husband Terry's cancer scare as an excuse to reinvent her life. Despite every indication that Terry (Kevin Eldon) will respond to chemo, Jill ensconces him in a hospital, announces his death, and begins a ferocious quest to win the heart of Don (Angus Deayton), the middle-aged doctor who just moved in across the street. Unfortunately for Jill, Don is trying to revive his failing marriage to dour, MS-stricken Cathy (Rebecca Front). Undeterred, Jill installs herself as Cathy's involuntary best friend and tries a number of devious schemes to undermine the couple's reconciliation. Whether comparing her nether regions to a "cat's anus," "jogging the grief off" in high heels and lingerie, or telling cancer-stricken Terry that there's "no sense in us both being depressed," Jill hides her monstrousness behind a soft-spoken demeanor and a firm conviction that the world owes her, well, everything. Though its laugh track-free setup and subtly over-the-top tone blend the sensibilities of Absolutely Fabulous and The Office with the plot of Fatal Attraction, Nighty Night achieves a singular voice of its own in just six 30-minute episodes.