We’ll get it. You don’t care about James Corden. You think he’s throwing sulfur eggs at the waiters, soiling his big diaper. You suspect that in the dark of the night, as soon as he has closed the bedroom door in his ice cream palace, he cackles like a goblin and pulls off his friendly mask, revealing the grotesque and warty face of a troll. And in a sense, it would be difficult to refute any of this.
But here’s the thing, and here’s what the “Mammals” show to the delight of the jury: James Corden is a good actor. The weight of a six-part series created by Jez Butterworth, the man who wrote Jerusalem, in some ways both the best and the funniest play of all time, fell on his shoulders. There is no pressure on Corden, and he doesn’t look like a mediocre talk show host trying to regain his former glory; he really looks like one of the best actors on British television in the last 15 years.
It won’t be news to people who remember that Corden was great in “Gavin and Stacey,” but we forgot about that, didn’t we? Amid the egg scandals and the shameless theft of Ricky Gervais’ materials, we forgot that Corden, left to himself, can behave like a rabid. Mammals give him the opportunity to experience the whole gamut of emotions, his socks fly off everywhere when he plays a man betrayed and humiliated by his wife Amandine (Melia Kreiling), the most French woman of all time.
But, my God, it’s a strange sight. Tom Jones appears in the first episode —and it cannot be overstated—for absolutely no reason; Sally Hawkins, who plays Liu, the sister of Corden’s chef Jamie, spends most of her time living the imaginary life of Coco Chanel; there is a ridiculously insane episode involving a colossal whale.
But that’s fine. Uneven, yes, but great because it’s so different. Individual creative solutions cling to each other, often causing sighs of disbelief. Butterworth may have been given too much leeway, he rides like a rich horse, but risk is such an exciting thing to see on screen, and it’s easy to forgive.
After a lot of billion-dollar dragon and elf series, it’s delightful to watch a little human drama (not a comedy drama, whatever its poster might try to tell you) about people who burn with red eyes in London pubs. Everyone in “Mammals” is torn apart by those shortcomings that annoy real people who are tired of their fate.
Note that no one has ever created the first series, which so shamelessly appeals to the second. Ambiguous climax in mammals is both a disadvantage — without permission — and a blessing — without permission! – and probably will annoy those people who buy already chopped mushrooms. To be honest, rushing through such an unusual series is an excitement. And, if Corden can behave so well all the time, he can throw as many eggs as he wants.
“Mammals” is currently being broadcast on Prime Video