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CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews weekend TV

Outlaw

Evaluation:

Top of the line

Evaluation:

Writer Kay Mellor, who passed away last month, made it look easy. His comedic dramas, such as Girlfriends and The Syndicate, weaved thrilling action around cleverly linked characters.

When the technique works, the result is addictive viewing. . . but it’s almost impossible to be right. And The Outlaws (BBC1) proves just how messy it can get when the format gets it wrong.

The comedy in The Outlaws is too broad, the action too brutal, the feeling too spongy, and the dialogue too scatalogical.

We don’t cut between the characters, we waver.

One minute, the show’s lanky creator, Stephen Merchant, performs an overlong gag, as he stands up in a nightclub booth and gets his head stuck in a chandelier.

Next, a drug gang informant gets stepped on and his leg broken.

The show’s biggest name, Oscar winner Christopher Walken, is back for a second series, though he might as well have stayed in New York and phoned in for his performance.

Lovers Rani and Christian (Rhianne Barreto and Gamba Cole) slept together for the first time, snuggling up in a sleeping bag. “Worth the wait,” she whispered.

Meanwhile, Special Constable Diane (Jessica Gunning) was describing in pornographic detail, to three men she had just met, exactly what she was and wasn’t ready to do in bed.

Surprises and unexpected twists are good. But these swings were so extreme that my stomach kept churning.

The show’s biggest name, Oscar winner Christopher Walken, is back for a second series, though he might as well have stayed in New York and phoned in for his performance.

Half the time he looks exasperated by the laziness of the writing. For the rest, he is bored. And you can’t blame him – he had to explain twice how money laundering works, using the same words in two separate scenes, and he asked three different people, “What are they taught you in school?

The only bright spot in The Outlaws is Eleanor Tomlinson, who gives it her all as Lady Gabby, the wealthy influencer who has nothing real in her life except her cocaine problem.

It’s such a shame that we’ll never see her in a Kay Mellor drama series. Chris Harris, Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff got into their own drama as they boarded an RV in Florida, on Top Gear (BBC1).

The only bright spot in The Outlaws is Eleanor Tomlinson, who gives it her all as Lady Gabby, the wealthy influencer who has nothing real in her life other than her cocaine problem.

The only bright spot in The Outlaws is Eleanor Tomlinson, who gives it her all as Lady Gabby, the wealthy influencer who has nothing real in her life other than her cocaine problem.

“Fred, this looks like a crime scene,” Chris muttered.

He hadn’t been wrong: the last time we saw such a crummy RV, Walter White was using it as a crystal meth lab in Breaking Bad. They were in the United States to get a taste of America’s unique motorsports, including “donks” – i.e. drag racing in limousines – and the “Dirty Thirty”, a rally of stock- cars in Ford Crown Victoria police cars.

A showdown with monster trucks and a dive into the Everglades for swamp buggy trials filled the hour. The trio took a while to gel but the BBC gave them time and their yelps no longer felt forced.

Their gags are more good-natured than in the days of Jeremy Clarkson.

But sometimes Laddish jokes get too real.

During a game of Frisbee in a church parking lot, Chris tripped and ended the episode on crutches.

It’s him and tennis star Alexander Zverev, two elite athletes who twist their ankles playing high-level sport in a weekend.

What are the chances?

Quick weekend outing: In the Canary Islands, Chris Horsley and his film crew watched in awe as an eruption on the Exploration (Dave) volcano. The next day, they had to collect their gear and flee their rented villa, as the lava changed direction. It’s time to check!