“Have I got a second series?” he dared to ask. Well, yes! A massive improvement on the first season, the second season of This Time with Alan Partridge is the best that the Partridge character has been since the heyday of the late 1990s and the early 2000s. Channelling the absurdities of conventional news programming, perfectly realising the conservative caricature that forms the character and providing an incredible variety of laugh-a-minute comedy, it’s Steve Coogan at his awkwardly calamitous finest.
The narrative feels more focused and developed in the second outing, an upgrade that enhances every aspect. A hybrid between serialised and episodic TV formats, the writing team of Coogan and both Rob and Neil Gibbons land a perfect balance to craft some of the best comedy that Britain has produced in recent years. Mixing slight pieces of fan service with a continuation of recent narrative developments it works serviceably both binge-worthy television. The most significant entry into the “Partridgeverse” of Coogan’s career-defining role. It is the culmination of its predecessors while also being a show for Partridge purists and newcomers alike, a testament to its all-round quality.
This Time with Alan Partridge‘s second series is accommodating and bound to have something for everyone. The typical bumbling character humour is, of course, present. It is as audiences would expect, whether it comes solely from Coogan or off the back of a dynamic relationship with Tim Key or Susannah Fielding. That style demonstrates the quality of writing and the staggering brilliance of its cast. Audiences are invited to laugh at the obnoxious media personality. Alternatively, there’s more low hanging fruit with puns and one-liners. Conceptual sketches and visual humour are utilised too.
Key and Coogan are almost telepathic in their dynamic, mirroring the partnership that made Mid-Morning Matters such a successful web series when that aired almost a decade ago.
Individually, however, this is the finest hour for Coogan, both in and out of his best-known creation. Perhaps a little less subtle than what audiences have seen from him before as Norwich’s finest, but that decision to play the character as openly centre-right and a loud projecting snob works, and even more so in the context of This Time with Alan Partridge’s premise. Making him hard to work with and painting Partridge as a dinosaur plays on the tragicomedy aspect with an ironic twist. It successfully turns over a new page for the long-running character.
The supporting cast make for excellent foils. Key is complimentary, but Fielding is the show’s lifeblood. The consummate professional to Partridge’s man out of time, their clashing gives us a strong narrative line. Contrasting personalities and reporting styles form a turbulent working relationship. It allows for the off-air, behind the scenes sequences to work and offers a different brand of performance-driven comedy, away from the more absurdist material that is commonplace throughout the Partridge persona.
This Time with Alan Partridge’s second series is a return to form for the man behind the character. Refining the foundations that made up its maiden voyage and adding to that base with an incredible amount of substance. High-level television that packs some interesting promises for the series moving forward, rejuvenating Coogan’s legendary Norwich-based wannabe starlet.