Binge Guide

Weekly Binge: The Wrong Mans

by | August 14, 2014 | Comments

James Corden
is not exactly a household name in America…yet. As the frontrunner for the Late Late Show gig when Craig Ferguson steps down in 2015, and with an upcoming role in Into the Woods
, Corden is about to become a lot more familiar. He is already a huge celebrity in the UK (just take a peek at his 4.3 million Twitter followers) and in 2012, he won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play with “One Man, Two Guvnors,” beating Philip Seymour Hoffman, James Earl Jones, Frank Langella and John Lithgow.

So, to introduce you to this triple threat from across the pond, we bring you the genre-bending slapstick comedy/spy thriller The Wrong Mans, a tidy little binge co-produced by BBC and Hulu.

The Wrong Mans

The Wrong Mans

What’s the premise? After answering a phone found on the side of the road, Sam (Mathew Baynton), an unwitting office drone, gets sucked into a thrilling kidnapping mystery, bringing his co-worker Phil (Corden) along with him.

What’s it like? The high production values on The Wrong Mans makes it feel more like an action film in the realm of Wanted than a 30-minute British TV series. Slick and moody, the show takes the classic “wrong man” tale made so famous by Alfred Hitchcock and serves it up as equal helpings of parody and spy thriller.

Where can I see it? The complete first season is available on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as streaming on Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, iTunes, and Hulu.

How long will it take? As far as binges go, this one’s a cakewalk. With one season of only six half-hour episodes, The Wrong Mans is the same level of commitment as watching a three-hour movie.

What do the critics think? Season one is Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer at 90 percent. Critics praised the fast-paced action of The Wrong Mans as well as its laugh-out-loud comedy. Melissa Maerz of Weekly wrote, “Just as adept with suspense as slapstick humor, it’s both a piss-take of action dramas and a strong action drama in its own right.” And most of the critics call out the comedic chops of both Corden and Baynton as a reason to watch The Wrong Mans. Brian Lowry of Variety said, “Corden and Baynton bring considerable charm to their broadly drawn roles, and have the natural rapport necessary for any odd couple pairing.”

Why should I watch this? The Wrong Mans feels like a show that will eventually be re-made into an American series, so you may as well get in on the ground floor. The onscreen chemistry between Baynton and Corden makes for a fun, life-affirming bromance, while the fast clip of the mystery keeps you enthralled for the full three hours. The plot is overly complex (on purpose), but delivers suspense and a satisfying resolution. Simply put, The Wrong Mans is a lot of fun.

What’s my next step? Fans of Corden and Bayton should definitely check out their British sitcom, Gavin & Stacey, which ran for three seasons on BBC 3 and won a BAFTA in 2008. Also, it’s impossible not to compare The Wrong Mans to Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. To see the masterworks of the mistaken identity genre, start at the source with Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much from 1934, his own (even better) remake of it from 1956, North By Northwest (1959), and, of course, The Wrong Man (1957). For a parody of the genre, check out Bill Murray in The Man Who Knew Too Little. What it lacks in taut mystery, it makes up for with Bill Murray’s funny performance.

Are you ready for an adventure with The Wrong Mans? Tell us why

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