Blightyvision: “Whites”

Directed by David Kerr
Written by Matt King and Oliver Lansley
Starring Alan Davies, Darren Boyd, and Katherine Parkinson

How Hulu chose to take me from last week’s frankly embarrassing “Green Wing” to the short series “Whites” is beyond me.  There’s a possibility that, despite its insistence on showing me baby food commercials, it does have at least a vague memory of what things I’ve marked as relevant to my interests.  Other than country of origin, billing as a comedy, and the presence of a color in their titles, the two shows couldn’t be more different.

Thank God. Because I needed a breather after last week, and that’s what I got here.

The most recent Alan Davies vehicle since “Jonathan Creek” is now for special occasions only, “Whites” is a short-and-sweet 6×30 series about Roland White (Davies), the head chef at a posh hotel.  Though he’s supported by a middling-sized ensemble cast, he isn’t so much surrounded by idiots as he is surrounded by snarks of equal value.  His sous-chef, Bib (Boyd, of “Dirk Gently” and the aforementioned “Green Wing”) finds himself constantly at odds with his own assistant Skoose (Stephen Wight), leading to back-room sniping and name-calling on a regular basis.  Meanwhile, Roland has a tinge of unrequited feeling for restaurant manager Caroline (Parkinson, easily recognizable from her time on “The IT Crowd”), which he manages to muck up daily by making her job nearly impossible.

The humor in “Whites” is almost entirely dialogue-dependent, and though it’s not award-winning genius turns of phrase, there are a few laugh-out-loud moments with the rest being quiet chuckles.  Any kitchen-related jokes are easily accessible, thankfully.  I’m sure if you’ve worked in a big kitchen you catch more, but as it was I could appreciate the majority of the jokes.

It rarely gets serious — the notable exception being the last episode, which isn’t so much dark or emotional as just a bit more low-key for a few minutes.  The half-hour episodes suit the plot progression just fine.  As enjoyable as I found it, hour-long episodes could easily have become tedious, given the limited locations and smaller cast.

When I was discussing “Jonathan Creek” with a friend after I’d reviewed it, he described it as being “All right, but a bit Alan.”  Anyone who’s watch Alan Davies in more than one thing can likely understand; he’s got his own pacing and his own style, and writers write to fit that.  Much as with his “QI” cohort Stephen Fry, if you’re watching a show starring him, you’re likely watching it for him.  If you’re not a fan of Davies, I don’t see this changing your opinion of him.

I, however, am, and I found watching “Whites” at one go to be a pleasant little afternoon’s activity.  It didn’t do well enough to warrant a second series, but to be honest, I’m fine with it as is.  I’m not sure the characters — as entertaining as they are — could have held out for a longer-running show, despite the sweet bromance-y moments between Roland and Bib at the end.  It feels best as a short subject, with the majority of the characters being oddly sympathetic (Skoose is just a jerk, but a funny one).  It may be too slow-moving for some people’s tastes, but that’s why I say it’s good for a laid-back afternoon.

“Whites” is available to watch on Hulu.  Also, I’m sorry for using the word “bromance.”  It won’t happen again … at least until I get around to reviewing “Merlin.”

2 Responses

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  1. Written by Trisha Lynn
    on September 10, 2011 at 05:02
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    My boyfriend and I just watched the first episode and found it to be as wonderful as you say it is. Inevitably, I’m going to end up comparing this to “Kitchen Confidential” in my brain, but I do say that I like Roland White much better than Jack Bourdain as far as TV depictions of chefs go.

  2. Written by Chris
    on September 12, 2011 at 11:36
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    Enjoyed it. Thanks

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