Gavin & Stacey Review, by Brian Lowry of Variety


Gavin (Matthew Horne), from Essex, has spent months chatting over the phone to Stacey (Joanna Page), who lives in Wales, and they've finally decided to meet in London. Both are filled with anxiety at the prospect, so they bring along their plus-sized mates Smithy and Nessa (writers James Corden and Ruth Jones), respectively.


Both Gavin and Stacey have clearly endured their share of disappointments (there's even a bit about her having been engaged several times before), but the encounter comes close to love at first sight, albeit after months of disconnected bonding. Yet the courtship's rapid advancement toward commitment and the altar leads to inevitable complications -- most involving those surrounding them.


Jones and Corden work a little too hard at rendering those secondary characters quirky, whether it's Gavin's ditsy mother (Alison Steadman) -- who inexplicably feigns being a vegetarian to impress her son's future in-laws -- or Stacey's daft uncle (Rob Brydon). Although the cast is uniformly strong, the more the zany relatives are involved, the more ordinary it all becomes.


Fortunately, the series never veers terribly far from the central duo, each of whom -- to borrow a bit of vernacular -- is played in cracking fashion by Horne (from "The Catherine Tate Show") and Page ("Love Actually"). Nor are the impediments thrown at them overblown, establishing a genial tone throughout the first six installments.


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