Max & Paddy's Road to Nowhere Review
Peter Kay has something that most comics would love to have - universal appeal. He can make everyone laugh - no matter who they are. This is quite a gift considering his humble background and the working class characters he portrays, however this is probably one of the reasons for his success. He has kept his feet on the ground and makes jokes about everyday observations that everyone can relate to, whether it be on his sell-out stand-up performances or as here, in his TV vehicles. He rose to prominence with That Peter Kay Thing back in 2000, where he demonstrated his gift for character acting by playing numerous roles in faux documentaries about various larger than life Bolton characters. It was very similar in style to Steve Coogan's “Coogans Run” or Roland Rivron's “Set of Six” before that. Among some of the gems, we got our first sight of Brian Potter, the wheelchair-bound tyrant whose antics fuelled two series of the spin-off Phoenix Nights. This show was massively popular and was also a big seller on DVD. Max and Paddy were the bouncers who worked the door at The Phoenix. Within the show they had a few adventures of their own and although perhaps not the funniest characters from that show, their back story was probably the one developed enough to warrant another spin-off show and so we have Max and Paddy's Road To Nowhere.
Max (played by Kay) is the mature (relatively speaking!), serious one of the pair who's desire for something more in his life inspired his purchase of a Motor home (in Phoenix Nights) and this series sees he and his sidekick, Paddy (Patrick McGuinness) leave The Phoenix and set off on a series of adventures spread over 6 episodes. I don't want to spoil the plot for those who haven't yet seen it but each of the 6 episodes, whilst self contained to an extent do have a common thread and a bigger story running through them. Max and Paddy isn't all slapstick comedy - as shown with the Marc Park or Leonard episodes from That Peter Kay Thing or Brian Potters attempts at love in Phoenix Nights, Peter Kay has a deft touch with comedic drama also. Max has more dimensions than at first meets the eye and makes a nice contrast to the rather unsophisticated sex-mad Paddy. Paddy provides most of the laughs however and is played with great vigour by Patrick McGuinness. The two of them do make a good comedy duo, although it remains to be seen whether their popularity will support further series.
I am a big fan of Peter Kay and own all of his previous DVD's, however when I watched this when it was first broadcast, I was slightly disappointed. It is still better than most of its peer comedies, but compared to Kay's own high standards it didn't appeal to me quite as much as I'd hoped it would. Having said that, with this DVD you are now able to watch all 6 episodes in closer succession and this enhances the story that runs through it, helping you to keep track of the various goings on as if it were a movie. Comedy is such a subjective matter it is hard to quantify what makes one more successful than another, so all I can say is that Max and Paddy didn't make me laugh as much as Phoenix Nights, but then I prefer the mix of characters and the darker side of Brian Potter than the more conventional duo of Max and Paddy. This is only my taste in relation to Peter Kays other work though and compared to the erratic output of rivals such as Steve Coogan, Max and Paddy still offers more than most.