In its quivering excitement last week’s Radio Times didn’t seem quite sure if it was advertising the American remake of this comedy (picked up by Funny Or Die and set to star Will Ferrell) or the Australian original. Happily for UK viewers the accents gave us a clue. No Activity sees three pairs of colleges all trapped in classic sitcom situations, cleverly linked to create something much funnier than the sum of its parts. And those parts are pretty funny to begin with. There’s a clever use of the classic cop show opening credits – it looks like it’s going to be dark, tense and packed with bad-ass action. But from the title we know that’s not going to be the case.
On a stakeout outside a suspected drugs warehouse is Detective Hendy, a young and ambitious chap and his senior Detective Stokes, who seems a bit of a bumbling dreamer. They’ve spent far too much time together and will discuss just about anything that pops into their mind. The chief concern in episode one is the plaster dolphin statue in the back seat that just might stand out to any watching crims, but Stokes couldn’t bear to leave it sitting there on the street for the binmen. Their later chat about how Stokes has a vasectomy face made me laugh out loud.
Chatting to Car 72 is a team of radio dispatchers including Carol and April. It’s April’s first day and she and Carol aren’t exactly hitting it off. There’s an excruciating conversation about Carol’s teenage son Lachy and his physical needs which are satisfied at the moment with Carol’s laptop and private bathroom time. It’s revolting but somehow it’s April told off for inappropriate workplace conversation.
And inside the warehouse are to guards who would be easy to cast as dumb and dumber. Certainly Bruce seems as dumb as a box of rocks but the younger man Jimmy is a frustrated thespian with his crazy-eyed Mel Gibson impressions and his homily on the three par structure of good storytelling. The ongoing search for his biological father is proving harder than he’d ever imagined, frustrated by his mother’s unique energies – so far he’s met 67 men who ‘knew’ his mother.
No Activity‘s very simple paired structure weaves together beautifully. And it’s extremely funny moments. While we wait to see what Will Ferrell will make of it see the original first on BBC2.
The first two episodes are on iPlayer now. Episode three is on Sundays at 10:30pm.