The Wrong Mans
is a 2013 dark comedy / dramedy made for The BBC
, which focuses on two well-meaning idiots who end up entangled in a world of crime. The protagonists are Sam Pinkett (Mat Baynton
), an unambitious office worker in Berkshire County Council; and his friend Phil Bourne (James Corden
), who works in the county building, but not for the county. Both of their lives take a turn for the interesting - yet also perilous - when Sam picks up a ringing mobile phone, and answers it, which serves only to draw him, and his friend, into a massive conspiracy of kidnapping, murder and sushi.
A second season has been ordered by BBC Two; Filming
began in August, 2014, as James Corden has a new job
in America starting early next year, and both episodes aired in December 2014.
This show provides examples of:
- Mistaken for Badass: The team of mercenaries that break out Sam and Phil in the second series think that they are a pair of expert bomb-makers. In reality, the two bomb-makers were moved to somewhere else in the prison for their protection.
- Mistaken Identity: Hoo boy, where to begin...
- Mood Whiplash: Being a dramedy, this happens a fair amount. It's particularly jarring in the first series, but the second manages to make it less so.
- Mugged for Disguise: A cleaner in episode 3. However the agent is already mostly in disguise and only takes their hat.
- Neck Snap: Paul Smoke finishes off a mook this way. This prompts his brother to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Needle in a Stack of Needles: In episode 4, the music box has been placed in a room full of music boxes. It's not intentionally hidden, but as Phil has no idea what the music box he's seeking looks like, it may as well be.
- No Communities Were Harmed: Inverted. The series is set in the very real Berkshire area of Bracknell but was actually filmed in neighbouring county, Surrey. It should also be noted that Berkshire hasn't have a County Council since 1998.
- Oh, Crap:
- The third episode when Scarlett realises that her husband sold a music box of vital importance.
- The duo have this reaction when the mercenary team that break them out have nothing to do with Espinosa.
- Police Are Useless: While the titular duo end up doing a fair bit, this is averted at points. A pair of police officers save Sam and Phil from a car bomb in the opening of the second series, the service manages to catch Kalil with some help, and then a random officer tasers the Russian in the back, before he can shoot Sam. They also have a role in taking down Espinosa.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: In the second series, Nathan Cross is a Neo-Nazi and proud of it. Phil lampshades it and uses it as reason to advocate his potential murder.
- Prison Rape: Discussed seriously in the second series, when the duo end up imprisoned in Texas, USA, on suspicion of being willing drug mules.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- Cox, while a classic case of Good Is Not Nice, is not entirely heartless and is willing to listen to an argument if lives are on the line. When she forces Sam and Phil to relocate to Texas, she at least gets them in a job that they can survive in and has an agent drop off things from home they might be missing, such as tea and biscuits.
- The police officers in the second series save Sam and Phil from a car bombing. Later, they notice the fact that the two are in the city centre despite being legally declared dead, save Sam again and buy him ample time to escape, so he can return to life as normal.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After Phil gets to the operating table just in time, he gives an incredible speech to the doctors who nearly amputated Sam's leg which nearly makes the situation seem serious for a brief moment.
- Running Gag:
- Phil's insistence on CPR even when it becomes clear that the victim is too far gone for it to be any use.
- Phil doesn't work for the council, he just works in the building.
- Sequel Hook: The car bomb at the end of series 1.
- Slashed Throat: How Nathan Cross dies in Series 2.
- Snow Means Love: Phil's relationship with his new girlfriend Rosa gets cemented when she contacts him at the end to tell him she never believed his lies but loves him anyway and it starts snowing on his end of the phone call (though not on hers because she's in Texas).
- Taking the Bullet: Sam does this for Phil in the final episode of Series 1, though it turns out that Phil was wearing a bulletproof vest.
- Title Drop: In the finale of the second series, the brother of the unnamed mook in Series One asks Sam if he is "the wrong mans", in this case referring to who the real killer is.
- Took a Level in Badass: Sam and Phil. Pretty standard for this type of plot. By episode 6, they have beat up several people, dodged numerous bullets, escaped pursuits from several spy agencies, leapt onto a moving train, and taken out an assassin on a motorcycle—just to name a few. They manage to look badass even with go-carting apparel on when they walk into the Black Tie event.
- Vast Bureaucracy: The two protagonists work in Berkshire County Council (now fictional; it split into six unitary authorities in 1998). This works against them when they hide a hostage in a large, rarely used room; a meeting is held there later that day which neither of them are aware of.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Well, "saccharine" would be the wrong word, but the villains are still taken rather seriously, even by Black Comedy standards.
- Wham Line:
- "This isn't my phone", from the first episode.
- The end of the first half of the second series has "Who the hell is Carlos?"
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Even by the end of the second series, what happened to the Triads is not fully addressed.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: This actually becomes a plot point in the second series, when one part of the Big Bad Ensemble turns out to be the brother of the mook that had his neck snapped courtesy of Paul Smoke. When he finds the person that he believes to be responsible, he furiously asks why they did what they did. In an ironic twist, he actually killed the person responsible right at the start.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Cox is furious when she discovers that Sam and Phil are trying to use a potentially lethal chemical as leverage to make sure they can return home. The two are by this point so angry that they call her out in turn and point out that, all things considered, she's not one to talk.
- Working with the Ex: Sam and Lizzie both work at the Berkshire County Council. It is made even more awkward when Lizzie is also introduced as Sam's boss on the Bracknell project.