'Bloods,' streaming, Hulu
NEW YORK (CNS) -- "Bloods," a comedy series about London paramedics that debuted on the British premium channel Sky One in May, is now available on Hulu. Belabored and in questionable taste, the show airs in six half-hour episodes.
Samson Kayo, who takes one of the program's two starring roles, also co-created it with fellow actor Nathan Bryon. It's directed by William Sinclair and written by Bryon and Paul Doolan.
The plot kicks off with a breach between Kayo's character, Maleek, and his partner, Kevin (Kiell Smith-Bynoe). As the two successfully attend to the victim of a car accident one rainy night, Maleek inadvertently shocks Kevin with a defibrillator.
The EMT's reaction is understandably severe. "You're the worst partner I ever had," he tells Maleek. "You nearly killed me."
In real life, of course, such an incident would likely have cost Maleek his job. Instead, Bryon and Doolan use his mistake an opportunity to explore an overly familiar sitcom trope: the odd couple.
After his parting of the ways with Kevin, Maleek expresses a preference for working solo. For good reason, however, his supervisor, Jo (Lucy Punch), takes a dim view of that idea. So she pairs him with recent divorcee Wendy (Jane Horrocks) who is, both racially and by background and temperament, the yin to Maleek's yang.
A native of rural Nottinghamshire, Wendy is not only overly sunny and solicitous but seemingly naive as well. Thus, when she gives a sizable handout to crack addict John (Dustin Demri-Burns), ostensibly to enable him to purchase a harmonica, Maleek is dismayed. Yet Maleek eventually comes to respect Wendy and the story line charts their deepening bond of friendship.
"Bloods" not only touches on topics such as substance abuse, Alzheimer's disease and suicide, it also includes a fair amount of unnecessarily crude language. Even adult viewers will likely be put off by its clumsily salacious dialogue, moreover, and by the cavalier manner in which it depicts Wendy's use of the casual hook-up app Tinder.
Along with its coarse tone, the series suffers from overly broad performances on the part of its leads. There's a manic, strained quality to the acting as though the principals were working overtime to elevate the weak material with which they're burdened.
At least one running gag, for example, is remarkably derivative. This concerns the partnership of EMTs Darrell (Sam Campbell) and Darryl (Kevin Garry), the former white, the latter black.
Perhaps this is meant as an homage to the 1980s CBS show "Newhart," which famously featured a trio of backwoodsman brothers, two of whom were named Darryl. If so, it comes across as lazy writing rather than a clever tribute.
Aesthetically as well as morally, in short, "Bloods" is dead on arrival.
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Byrd is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.