Friday, Dec. 17, 2004

Nighty Night (Oxygen)

It was a good year for British imports and collaborations (see Nos. 7 and 8), but this darker-than-black comedy was the most delightfully alien to American sitcom sensibilities. Julia Davis wrote the six-part series and starred as Jill Tyrell, a dim, self-involved hairdresser who sees her husband's looming death from cancer as a chance to upgrade her life. She insinuates herself into a friendship with a disabled woman, then tries to steal her husband. (To win their sympathy, she pretends her own husband is already dead, then tries to hide the evidence when he maddeningly gets better.) Jill is captivatingly selfish and feral (she's more like a mildly intelligent wolverine in a miniskirt than a human being) and her baroque schemes to prey on her meek neighbors make for a hilarious comedy of bad manners.