Last night I finally finished watching "The Night Shift" on BBC iPlayer. Although I was aware that there was an Icelandic (black) comedy series running on BBC4, I hadn't made any attempt to watch this and it was only thanks to the always wonderful Rachel that I discovered a rare gem.
Næturvaktin (The Night Shift) was not so well received by British media critics, but has gained a small but very devoted fan following. It is not a conventional comedy series in any sense - no irritating laughter track for example, and documentary-style camera work - in the beginning I thought it owed a lot to the brilliant "Flight of the Conchords" with Georg as a more extreme version of band manager Murray, who never takes responsibility for the consequences of his actions. (Some critics also compared the show to "The Office" although I can't comment on that one, as my extreme aversion to Ricky Gervais means that I've never been able to sit through more than one episode of that particular show).
Every great comedy series has well-rounded characters with particular traits and Næturvaktin already established these in its first 30 minutes: manager Georg Bjarnfreðarson - a Sweden-obsessed Marxist with (count them) five university degrees (including that all-important pedagogy!) and an obsession for making money out of recycling cans; Ólafur, the likeable but extremely gullible wannabe band manager who is always the butt of Georg's wrath; and Daníel, the new employee, an anxious college dropout who develops a growing relationship with Ylva ('kiosk girl' as she's known over at Digital Spy!). And let's not forget the emotionally abused Flemming Geir....
Of course every great comedy series needs its catchphrases and this one's no different - Georg's "personnel on the forecourt!" and "it was just a misunderstanding" may not sound obviously funny but you have to watch it to understand. Georg is a classic, grotesque, memorable character and this is one of the best TV series I've seen in years. Now all they need to do is release the DVD over here, failing that I'll just have to do what everyone else has done and buy it on import!