(Originally posted 12th July 2016)
I must admit my expectations were lowered by the trailer, not to mention the poor quality of the most recent specials. And as we talked about in the podcast, the nature of the programme does not particularly lend itself well to a feature length format. With that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised by the end result. It was entirely in keeping with the tone of the show and of a quality that lined up comfortably with the mid-nineties era episodes.
Structurally, the plot device gave just enough narrative to hold it together without being a distraction from the character based shenanigans that make Ab Fab what it is. It could easily be seen as a few different episode ideas strung together (fight with another PR over a famous client; travel to old stomping ground in search of a rich husband; Patsy is a man) but they were strung together well enough. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the conflict between Saffy and her now teenage daughter, reflecting what we saw as the original mother-daughter relationship back in the early episodes. It's certainly in there, but doesn't get the chance to be developed as it's a secondary element. If there are further episodes in the future, I'd love to see that progress.
The other lacking element that surprised me was not really acknowledging the 20+ years of established history of the characters. In episodic sitcom, we always want to revert to the status quo by the end of the half hour but with this being the big screen outing, I thought we would see something... Deeper, perhaps? Or maybe just wider? But no, you could take Eddy and Patsy from the film, place them directly into a 1994 episode and it wouldn't be any different. Even the jokes regarding their age have always been there (Eddy freaks out about turning forty in episode 6).
It was great to see how many of our predictions actually came to pass, and I think that says a lot about how they did not stray far from what the audience expected. The cameos were numerous and gratuitous (Lulu showed up in the first twenty seconds) and all your old favourite characters turn up in completely unnecessary bit parts. There's even a modern pop cover of Wheels on Fire over the end credits (Adele obviously wasn't available).