Three Plus Four Equals Two New Seasons of ‘Coupling’
LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) – For those with BBC America on their cable systems, the fourth season of the BBC’s saucy romantic comedy “Coupling” just launched on Sunday, June 6, at 9 p.m. ET. For the rest, the third season was released on DVD by BBC Video on June 1.
Star Ben Miles, who plays the womanizing Patrick Maitland, is busy looking for ways to spend his “Coupling” cash.
“I’m just browsing e-Bay,” he says, calling in from the U.K., “and thinking I should be doing something more useful.”
Last fall, NBC tried to launch its own version of the show — which charts the interlocking lives and loves of six sex-obsessed thirtysomethings — which landed with a resounding splat and was quickly yanked from its coveted slot on the network’s Thursday-night schedule.
Apparently this hasn’t hurt writer Steven Moffat’s original version on the BBC.
“It’s not so much a monster hit,” Miles says. “It’s kind of a small beast. It’s going from strength to strength. It’s strange, but the last time it aired, they repeated all three seasons, and we got more recognition for that than we have over the whole four years it’s been on TV.
“It’s been a slow burn, ‘Coupling,’ and everybody knows about it and likes it.”
He thinks the failure of the American version may have benefited its predecessor.
“Once people got to hear about the American version not working,” Miles says, “some sense of pride in their own product came from somewhere. People started to like it who maybe weren’t so sure about it before. But those poor guys — I saw a documentary on it, and they were just under the screw from day one. It was a high-pressure situation.”
The beginning of season four (or series four, as it’s called in the U.K.) finds confirmed commitment-phobe Patrick in a serious relationship with confirmed neurotic Sally (Kate Isitt).
“Patrick matures [this year],” Miles says. “He can’t get any less mature. His story is, he’s struggling with the idea of monogamy. He’s struggling with what it’s like to be in a relationship with one person.
“And it’s with Sally, the maddest of all people, the most insane, insecure, neurotic person you’d ever hope to meet. But she’s mad enough to get Patrick, and Patrick is mad enough to get Sally. So, this series is really about Patrick struggling to find the right tools for the job, the right emotional equipment …”
But, fans might say, according to Patrick’s ex-girlfriend Susan (Sarah Alexander) — who described him to Sally as “a tripod” — Patrick has all the equipment he requires.
“Yeah, he does,” Miles says, “in that department, and he thinks that’s all he needs. But Sally keeps pestering him and telling him he needs to talk and tell her what he thinks – you know, your average male blindness. So he’s becoming sort of a 20th Century person.”
That’s good, considering it’s the 21st Century.
“Give him a chance!” Miles says. “He’s only just started. A few more seasons, he might be in the 21st Century. The show is written really nicely for me and Kate. There are a lot of situations based on that very simple comic line of, this is unfamiliar territory to them. How do people do this — particularly these two people.”
Of course, playing Patrick in earlier seasons as a man about town did allow Miles to live out a male fantasy — and it appears that has not come to a screeching halt.
“Series four started,” he recalls, “our first day of filming, I was driving a brand-new BMW convertible, very quickly, down a runway, in an homage to ‘The Prisoner.’ They had me speeding up and down this runway all day, and I thought, ‘This is one of the reasons I took this job. It’s just superb.’
“And then the afternoon was spent at a carwash surrounded by girls dressed either as policewomen or nurses. So it was a better than average day at the office.”
Asked if he feels the need to live up to Patrick’s example, Miles laughs. “If I did live up to Patrick’s social life, I would probably be in bed right now. No, my social life is very different from Patrick’s, but it’s a delight to be able to dip into that world via the mad scripts of Steven Moffat.”
Miles has also learned a little something from his alter ego. “I’ve learned to be aware when I’m about to engage my mouth without putting my brain in gear. It helps to do both, but Patrick is so good at just opening his mouth and talking stuff that gets him into trouble.
“But maybe it’s a bit of what you should to in this so-P.C. world. Patrick is a little bit of a hero to most men in a small way, because he’s still flying the flag of ignorance and belligerence — and enjoying himself.”
For the DVD, Miles and his fellow cast members recorded audio commentaries.
“God knows who’s going to find it interesting,” he says. “It’s just us sitting in a booth, looking at ourselves, telling each other how good we think we are. It’s a crazy existence.
“Then you forget you’re on mike, and it’s going out to the world, you have a chat about things, talk about stuff completely unrelated to ‘Coupling,’ what you’re going to have for lunch.
“What people will get from that other than the fact that we’re a bunch of self-interested narcissists, I don’t know, but it was fun.”
Three Plus Four Equals Two New Seasons of ‘Coupling’