Saturday TV includes ‘Friday Night Dinner’

The latest comedy import from England sets its sights on a traditional but not strictly observant Jewish family who get together each Friday.

Each family has their quirks and this one has a lot of them. The dad, played by Paul Ritter likes go to around shirtless, won’t part with his old science magazines and picks food out of trash. Mother is obsessed with “MasterChef,” the two grown boys, returning to the family hearth, revert to their own petty skirmishes.

“Friday Night Dinner” (BBC America, 11:30 p.m.) features a couple of British comedy stars familiar from their other work, particularly Tasmin Greig from Showtime’s “Episodes” and the put-upon straight man of Simon Bird, fresh from another season of “The Inbetweeners.”

I asked Bird how the character of Adam Goodman differs from his schoolboy role of Will McKenzie.

“Well, I think they’re quite different,” Bird said.
”Adam is a lot less pretentious and pompous than Will in ‘The Inbetweeners.’ And I think you’re seeing Adam at home with his family where he’s a lot more relaxed than what you see of Will who’s often with his friends and trying to impress people, and, you know, constantly trying to be cool.

“The whole point of ‘Friday Night Dinner,’ I think, is that people behave differently around their parents and they sort of revert to this slightly more immature state. And so I think that was the difference. I’m just trying to do a character that was much more sort of comfortable in his own skin.

“Certainly both characters are socially uncomfortable. I think that’s sort of the basis of any comedy, especially British comedy, that plays a lot on awkwardness. And I think most of the characters are uncomfortable in some way.”

British or not, there are plenty of relatable moments in the amusing series that begins with a neighbor who is afraid of his own dog who keeps coming over to borrow the restroom.

The premiere of “Friday Night Dinner” follows the debut of another new comedy import, “Outnumbered” (BBC America, 11:30 p.m.).

“The Inbetweeners Movie” is due out in theaters Aug. 19.

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