Warning. This review may have been influenced by the fact that I am a massive Nick Frost fan. From the early days of Spaced to the more recent days of The World's End I've always been a big fan, so I was really hoping (for his sake, and mine) that Mr. Sloane was good.
Good news Frost fans... it is. Earlier on this week I was invited along to BAFTA to preview the first episode of Mr. Sloane and can't remember the last time I laughed so much at a screening. Which is unusual for a comedy which starts with the main character, Mr. Sloane, attempting to hang himself in his own house.
It's no surprise really that Mr. Sloane made me laugh as much as it did, because aside from great on-screen talent, the talent off screen is just as good. Mr. Sloane is the creation of Robert B. Weide, who brought us Curb Your Enthusiasm, and speaking at BAFTA earlier on this week, Weide spoke about how the idea for Mr. Sloane came whilst he was "driving down the freeway in Los Angeles one day, and caught a glimpse of a guy who looked a bit like Nick Frost, if he had been an accountant during the Mad Men era."
He then went on to reveal that as soon as he caught a glimpse of that guy he began talking into his phone trying to flesh out his character and that the very same recording is still sitting on his phone today.
Mr. Sloane is set in the 1960s, and Nick Frost plays the title role, Jeremy Sloane, an accountant whose wife has left him and is trying to get a job as a schoolteacher. Basically, he's a man in a crisis.
It's 1969 and between his failed attempts at marriage, career success and even suicide, it's fair to say that it isn't shaping up to be the best of year's for Mr. Sloane. There's a great moment in the first episode, where it seems as though Jeremy's life may be about to get better as he's offered a job teaching in a school, but let's just say he reveals a little too much (no, not like that) to his class and instead a career in teaching appeared to be over, before it had even really begun.
But Mr. Sloane isn't all about Nick Frost (although he does play the lead) there's also a great supporting cast involved, including Peter Serafinowicz who plays Ross, Jeremy's best friend and leader of a group consisting of three childhood friends who meet every night in their local.
You've got to feel sorry for his son, who spends most of his time either at the back of the pub or stuck in the car waiting for his dad to finish having a good time.
I've always admired Peter Serafinowicz's work and it's a shame he's not on telly more often. Luckily Ross is a big enough role to allow him to shins and for me some of the funniest scenes come from the conversations he has with Jeremy and their other friends, Beans (Lawry Lewin) and Reggie (Brendan Patricks) - who are both just as funny.
For example, there's one scene in the first episode where the four of them are sat together talking about where nuts come from and debate whether or not they have seasons? No, seriously. The results are hilarious.
And in fact whilst speaking at BAFTA about that particular scene, writer and creator Bob Weide revealed how it was born out of an actual thing that happened to him in an aeroplane once where they ran out of peanuts and he thought - "No peanuts on an aeroplane?! ...oh, maybe they're out of season. " - "This was years before I had the idea for the show (Mr. Sloane) but I figured that's the kind of crap that guys talk about."
It's not all about the men either in Mr. Sloane as there are two very good leading ladies in this played by Ophelia Lovibond and Olivia Colman. Now when you see Colman's name attached to a show you can be 99.9% sure that what you're about to watch is excellent. After all she didn't win Leading Actress at the recent BAFTA Television Awards for nothing.
In Mr. Sloane, Colman plays Janet, Jeremy's wife. Never one to disappoint, Colman delivers yet another brilliant performance in Mr. Sloane and regularly appears in Jeremy's flashbacks as he looks back on their relationship and how they met. So how did the meet? Well, they met on the tube and despite getting the same train as one another for a while, it took a rather embarrassing moment between Jeremy and a woman carrying a bit of extra weight in which Jeremy offered the woman a seat which is when he realised the extra weight she's carrying isn't a baby.
It's not all about the flashbacks, there are his fantasies as well, in which Janet returns and admits she made a mistake by leaving him. She's a charming young woman, full of hopes and dreams, who married Jeremy when they were very much in love but as the dreams they used to talk about fade, so does their relationship.
Janet soon realises that a world of routine and monotony isn't for her and she leaves Jeremy in order to get more from life. So whilst she may not be there in the present there is plant of Colman on screen to sit back and enjoy.
The other woman in Jeremy's life is Robin, played by Ophelia Lovibond. They meet at a hardware store in the first episode and it's not long before Jeremy sees here as a potential new love interest.
And who can blame him? There's only so long one can go around using the "She's visiting her sick mother" excuse to anyone who asks about his missing wife, not least his rather nosey next-door neighbour.
Ophelia is one of the UK's most exciting new actresses, and she's great at playing a free-spirited young American in Mr. Sloane and I hope this is the start of many more roles for her. With or without an American accent!
I've only seen the first episode but I've loved what I've seen so far and think Frost was the perfect choice to play Jeremy Sloane and with a supporting cast including Serafinowicz and Colman, what's not to love? Also did I mention that it's really funny? Because it is, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how the story develops and whether life gets any easier for Mr. Sloane? My gut feeling is no.