What would you do for love? Sky Comedy kicks off the new year with this comedy-drama starring Romesh Ranganathan and Katherine Ryan as married couple Deacon and Allison, who have faced multiple devastating failed IVF attempts, and are now going the extra mile (to say the least) to give it one more go.
Deacon and Allison open the show via a heist-style montage involving an internet cafe and a triple-booked meeting room in the estate agency where they both work. They reveal that they’ve finally executed their plan to steal £50,000 worth of bitcoin from their sleazy boss, Alfie (Johnny Vegas) so they can pay for a private clinic for another insemination attempt.
But cracks begin to form when we see that Deacon may have taken a little more from Alfie’s account than initially agreed, and Allison’s eagerness to flaunt their new cash comes to light. The pressure increases when Alfie becomes agitated, worried about the company’s spending.
What start out as small hitches in Allison and Deacon’s masterplan eventually, inevitably, stack up and begin to spiral. First a little white lie here and there, then Alfie asks a few too many favours at work, then Deacon’s ‘uncle’ is not quite as helpful as they originally thought he might be. The couple have to scramble to keep their secret, all the while trying to complete their IVF treatment.
Despite its likeable cast and promising premise, however, Romantic Getaway lacks spark – and finesse. Every thought process is laboriously explained, every convenient plot detail shoehorned in.
An excessive use of lengthy flashbacks in the opening episode – including a peek into their fallout following the final failed IVF attempt with the NHS – undermines any potential for subtlety in the script, and the performances lack enough nuance to paper over the problem. On top of that, the combination of Deacon and Allison’s seemingly normal lives contrasted with a cartoon-like villain in their boss Alfie (who never gets the opportunity to exhibit any depth) only emphasises the lack of commitment to a single comedic style.
It is, at least, watchable; the story is easy to follow; the plot tensions as cliché as they come, which is perfect for a casual weekday evening browse. After a clunky start, the show finds its footing and gets in a few good laughs, and the charming Ryan and Ranganathan are a pleasant pair and reliably funny – though their romantic chemistry leaves much to be desired.
When it comes to the heavier subjects, Romantic Getaway plays it as safe as it can. The emotional turmoil of IVF treatment is well acknowledged, showing how painful the process is not just when it goes wrong, but also when there’s hope that it’ll work. Yet while these scenes give some breathing room for a shift in tone, they can’t resist a quick and easy joke to move things along.
The action sequences, too, start out with unrealistically low risks and are even more unrealistically easily escaped – if all it took to avoid getting your bag checked at customs was having a lovers’ tiff in front of the staff, then I’d have swanned through more times than I could count. This is no Ocean’s Eleven.
For those looking for a hungover New Years Day watch, Romantic Getaway will hit just enough of the marks to keep you entertained as you peruse the menu of your local Chinese takeaway. If you’re looking for simplicity, then simplicity is what you’ll get – but if you’re looking for anything more, then you may find yourself switching channels by the time your food’s at the door.
Romantic Getaway will air on Sky Comedy on January 1