Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

A review of "The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin" - a comedy by Noel Fielding that feels like a robbery in broad daylight.
Culture TV and Radio

A review of “The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin” – a comedy by Noel Fielding that feels like a robbery in broad daylight.

‘England, 1735” reads the opening caption. A second adds “Just before bedtime”. With that, plus the title The Completely Made Up Adventures of Dick Turpin and the knowledge that Noel Fielding is playing the eponymous role, we should all know exactly where we stand and what is likely to be delivered. Slightly chaotic whimsy, sweet silliness and a vague air of “Will this do?” hanging about the place.

This illustrates that Fielding’s divine silliness makes him the ideal whimsically foolish aspiring thief, whom we initially encounter hesitantly following in his father’s path as the local meat seller. Dick, of course, abstains from consuming animal products. His cousin Benny (Michael Fielding – Noel’s sibling, and Naboo in The Mighty Boosh) possesses his own collection of blades and is prepared to assume control, prompting Dick to gather his sewing gear and lavender-colored footwear as he embarks on a quest for a new direction. “He won’t survive past the end of the week,” comments Benny.

This almost becomes reality when he encounters the notorious local thief Tom King (played by David Threlfall) by chance, unintentionally kills him, and ends up taking over his grateful Essex Gang, who never truly respected their leader. The Essex Gang includes Moose (portrayed by Marc Wootton), a large figure who is a mix of Friar Tuck and Little John (don’t worry about historical accuracy or separating folklore characters too strictly here), Honesty Courage (played by Duayne Boachie), who quickly becomes devoted to Dick, and Nell (played by Ellie White, who also portrayed Beatrice in The Windsors), who has convinced the gang that she is a man named Nicholas by wearing trousers and drawing on a mustache above her upper lip. Dick and his sewing machine quickly give them a new look – pleather (parsnip leather) pants, capes, and a more comfortable smock for Moose to allow for better movement. And who are we to disagree?

Exciting escapades occur, though they are relatively minor in nature, such as encountering a haunted coach that possesses whoever attempts to steal the small but valuable emerald known as the “monkey-fist” (a subject of many repetitive jokes). It is revealed that the deceased Tom King had an agreement with a thief-catcher named Jonathan Wilde (played by Hugh Bonneville) in which King would inform Wilde about coaches without the cursed emerald, and in return receive 95% of the profits. “It’s like robbing in broad daylight!” exclaims Dick, as it becomes clear that much of this adventure relies on Fielding’s charm. Dick ultimately refuses to continue the arrangement, making the gang the top target of the thief-catcher and setting the stage for even more exciting exploits.

There are repeating jokes (such as Linda, the dog walker who passes by all of the gang’s hideouts), clever and ironic jokes, silly jokes, as well as hit or miss ones that span across different genres. The show has garnered a lot of praise, similar to the 2018 production “The Witchfinder,” which featured talented comedians like Daisy May Cooper as a supposed witch and Tim Key as her hapless finder. Dolly Wells portrays the pamphlet writer who turns Turpin into a legendary figure, while Tamsin Greig plays Lady Helen Gwinear, a crime boss. Asim Chaudhry takes on the role of Craig the Warlock, who has yet to pass his warlock exams, and Mark Heap plays the Turpins’ father. The show also features guest appearances from well-known actors such as Jessica Hynes, Greg Davies, and Diane Morgan. Furthermore, child actor Kiri Flaherty deserves recognition for her portrayal of Little Karen, the confident barmaid at the local tavern who delivers every line like a seasoned professional.

However, The Completely Made Up Adventures of Dick Turpin shares a similar feeling with The Witchfinder in that it appears to be a result of a group of friends doing a favor for someone rather than a genuine attraction to the material. Like The Witchfinder, it also struggles to come together and fully take flight. Despite this, I believe that the entirety of the second episode is worth watching solely for Mark Heap’s portrayal of Dick’s butcher father. His inexplicably Mark Heap-esque plea for his son to return and work for him adds a unique touch to the show. It’s hard to describe, and if anyone were to try, they should begin with Heap’s genius. I recommend watching at least until this scene to form your own opinion, if only to have someone to discuss it with.

Dear user,

Bypass the promotion for the newsletter, user.

  • The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin is on Apple TV+.

Source: theguardian.com