It's a common sitcom mis-step: relocate the action to a more glamorous setting and lose the "com" inherent in the "sit" along the way. The Wrong Mans (BBC2), which has moved stateside for a second series split over two hour-long episodes, makes a rare exception to that rule. This action-comedy caper was always based on the juxtaposition of ordinary characters and extraordinary circumstance.
Sam (Mathew Baynton) and Phil (James Corden) are now "Ian" and "Terry", living under assumed identities and working at Gopher Distribution, a haulage company in the middle of the dusty Texan desert. It's an amusing reversal of the situation at Berkshire County Council, where we were introduced to this pair at the beginning of the first series. Phil/Ian is still an enthusiastic organiser of team-building trips, but this time everyone else is keen too. Everyone except Sam/Terry who's homesick for his old life and particularly Lizzie (Sarah Solemani), the girlfriend he'd almost reconciled with before they went on the run. Now Sam's the one giving the cliché-laden motivational speeches: "We've got to cross a lot of bridges, jump a lot of hurdles and I need to know I'm with someone who's prepared to roll deep." Fortunately Phil was on the same page: "But, that's how I roll!"
They may be more experienced as action heroes these days, but our "mans" can still be relied upon to go wrong when the show's comedy element requires it. Phil's attempt at an American accent at the airport passport control – "You're goddamn right I did! I put my clothes all up in that suitcase!" – was so bad it eventually landed them in a US prison. Not a great place for two weedy Englishmen to be, as anyone who has seen The Shawshank Redemption might imagine. It did, however, offer a whole new sub-genre of movie conventions for the director, Jim Field Smith, to try his hand at.
Our boys from Bracknell were also well-placed to infiltrate the white supremacist gang headed up by a one-eyed Nathan Cross (a brilliantly unexpected cameo from Babylon's Bertie Carvel). When Sam worried that his nerve might fail him, Phil had these words of comfort: "We don't have to be racists, we just have to hang out with some. It's like watching Top Gear." Quite.Reuse content