Review- Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special
It's hard to believe it has been a decade since the last episode of Gavin & Stacey and even more unbelievable how it all came together and managed to come back on full form. I had no nerves going into this episode, Ruth Jones and James Corden have been very open about their failures when trying to craft a script worthy of a Gavin & Stacey return to the TV so when it was officially announced, I had full faith in their decision to come back.
Upon watching the episode, it only proves that they know exactly what draws their audience in and what makes every episode special. From the first panned shot of a street in Barry to the cast and dynamics, everything feels familiar. The characters seem unchanged. The first scene is one we have seen numerous times, a simple phone conversation between Gavin and Stacey, this time discussing a WiFi dilemma followed by some debacle over Christmas gifts. This episode reintroduces us to every character perfectly. Pam panicking and overpacking for the Shipmans’ two day Christmas stay in Barry with Mick questioning her decisions about items such as insect spray in her suitcase. Even Smithys reintroduction is the classic song and dance we expect, and it truly feels like Gavin and Stacey haven't missed a beat.
Amidst the familiar faces however, there are new ones. The children that were babies when we last saw them have now reached double digits. Neil the baby is hilariously still referred to as Neil the baby, and the influence Nessa has had on his upbringing is immediately obvious. We are first introduced to him glueing down pennies in the slots and every time he speaks, he is heard often saying catchphrases that have become popular because of Nessa.
This is brilliant casting as when we see Neil the baby stood next to his on-screen dad, Smithy, they weirdly look alike. Gavin & Stacey now have three children and the first major plot of the special revolves around their marriage and them 'losing their spark'. This plotline resolves itself quickly, however, with the clever decision to have Stacey take not only Gavin, but for the whole audience down memory lane reciting well-known scenes to remind us just how special this show is.
Stacey stands in the spot where Gavin first told her he loved her before detailing multiple memories, some of which were new to us. The scene evoked tears around my household and was acted superbly. The whole cast seems to have dived back into their characters with ease and even ten years on, they know exactly how these characters should act. There was a touching tribute to Doris due to real-life actress Margaret John sadly passing away a few years ago.
In one scene in Essex, the doorbell rings to reveal a distraught Dawn who believes her marriage is over due to the fact Pete presumably being a drug addict. She reveals a joint she has found in his glove box and in typical Dawn fashion, she completely overreacts. Pam and Mick laugh it off before Pete shows up annoyed to only pull off the classic Pete and calm her down by telling her 'she's the only drug he'll ever need' and 'If you fall I will catch you'. The incredible cheesy nature of Pete is one many fans love and the decision to include a scene with the both of them was a wise one. The resolution of the scene is four of them dancing around whilst smoking weed with a confused Smithy and Gavin barging into the room looking on confused.
One of my personally most missed characters is Bryn and thankfully, in this special Bryn is more Bryn than ever; checking oven dimensions, running walkie talkie drills, begging the question whether this is the man who should be in charge of cooking dinner for 'over thirteen people!' Miraculously, minus some panicking and typical Bryn stress, the dinner is cooked without error.
Bryn and Nessa also have a singing duet which is easily on par with their previous efforts. Following the dinner scene, we are introduced to Sonia, Smithy‘s new girlfriend. Nobody has met her yet which is strange considering they've been dating eleven months but we soon discover why.
Sonia brings out a very different Smithy. One that's new to not only the characters but to the audience also. Smithy isn't even Smithy to Sonia, he's Neil who uses an extended vocabulary and refers to everybody using their full names. I wasn't keen on the character but I believe this was the intention. It stole time away from typical Smithy antics but it was refreshing to see James Cordon play the character in a new light. The way he acted around her was truly hilarious to see but if there was a follow up to this special, I hope Sonia doesn't have too much involvement.
There are little pieces of this show I have missed the most. The little talks of Gavin and Smithy, the well-known quotes and sayings Pam always manages to get wrong such as 'I could see them in my minds aisle' instead of the mind's eye. Gavin & Stacey is a show that can fill screen time with long discussions on service stations and turn minor dilemmas such as forgetting Christmas puddings into big stories and still manage to remain entertaining and keep an audience engaged.
With the tease of the infamous fishing trip and Nessa dropping a bombshell only for the credits to roll immediately after, it looks as if more Gavin & Stacey is confirmed. I won't reveal what happened exactly as this is a moment you need to witness rather than read about, but let's just say, it was very left field. The episode didn't lack in any area, the writing was top-notch, the cast seemed to delve into their characters without fault and all the elements we know and love were executed flawlessly.
Sure, it's familiar and despite a few new faces there's nothing 'new' about Gavin & Stacey after a decade away, but that's the charm. It's the relatability and how it doesn't attempt to go beyond real-life possibilities. Gavin & Stacey is back and it managed to recapture the magic of its original run and I'm not going to lie, getting one more series to overindulge in all these characters would be crackin'. The Christmas special was simply; “tidy” and just like Christmas dinner, I crave for more, sooner rather than later.