A man and his marriage on the verge of a hilarious meltdown
How do you know when youre having a midlife crisis? Maybe its when you cant remember exactly where your wife works - or whether she works at all. Or when your children have a more active sex life than you do. Or maybe its when you start to hear the unspoken thoughts inside other peoples heads.
Hugh Laurie (House) stars as Paul Slippery, an anxiety-ridden British doctor suffering from all those symptoms and more. His wife (Anna Chancellor, Four Weddings and a Funeral) has embarked on a new career and perhaps an extramarital affair or two. His three oversexed sons mock him without mercy. And at work hes tangled in red tape and tormented by a flaky colleague.
Guest stars include Stephen Fry, Lauries partner-in-comedy from shows such as A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Jeeves and Wooster, and Blackadder. With its delightful cast and zany repartee, Fortysomething turns the fears and foibles of middle age into high comedy of the kookiest kind.
, starring the ever-engaging Hugh Laurie (House M.D.
, Jeeves and Wooster
), is far more intriguing and peculiar than its generic title suggests. Paul Slippery (Laurie) wakes up one morning and can't remember the last time he had sex with his wife Estelle (the lovely Anna Chancellor, finally getting a sympathetic role after years of being the woman no one likes in Pride & Prejudice
and Four Weddings and a Funeral
). Paul's midlife crisis takes forms both fantastic (he thinks he can hear his wife's thoughts) and prosaic (he's baffled by the romantic entanglements of his three sons, two of whom keep trading partners with a pair of vivacious sisters). Estelle, for her part, is anxious about returning to work again after many years as a mother and housewife. One of Paul's coworkers tries to lure Estelle into an affair and Paul finds himself experimenting with herbal aphrodisiacs and dressing in an Islamic chador to get into an woman-only seminar. This tale of middle-age frustration skirts cliche but is rescued by off-kilter humor, whimsical digressions, a superb supporting cast, and smart writing, but above all by the rapport between Laurie and Chancellor. The warm yet combative chemistry between these two is perfectly suited to a couple who haven't fallen out of love but have lost their spark. A few plot elements of Fortysomething
go awry--when Estelle tries to arrange a reunion with old friends and Paul thinks she's having an affair, the episode never quite transcends the overfamiliarity of the setup. But by the end, you'll be sorry to lose the company of this charming family. Laurie also directed three of the series' six episodes. --Bret Fetzer