From Britain with love

arcs | RAPIDFIRE PRESS
A cover of the DVD of the TV series. (Amazon.com)

Toast of London
Created by Arthur Matthews and Matt Berry
A review by Jovidel R. Tabuena

(WARNING: Some spoilers may be discussed in detail.)

Steven Toast has survived practically everything — divorce, plane crash, attempted murder, and even a bad beat during a poker showdown with Andrew Lloyd Webber (in which he promptly loses his shoes).

And that’s just during the first season.

You name it, the struggling, middle-aged actor (played by Matt Berry) has lived through it.

If you think Kimmy Schmidt is unbreakable, then you better brace yourself for the eponymous lead of Toast of London, a British comedy series that’s streaming on Netflix (and by the way has spawned its stateside equivalent: Toast of New York, what else?)

But that’s another continent.

Despite critical acclaim, Toast of London only lasted until the third season but has developed something of a cult following, thanks to the charm of its protagonist, a washed-out thespian who’s down on his luck and is reduced to doing ridiculous voice-overs just to keep body and soul together.

As a result, to express his angst at the absence of a decent break, the onset of midlife, and the lack of a suitable girlfriend, Toast is prompted to break out in song on occasion, several performances of which may seem out of place. On this note, the production should have just stuck to the script (and its memorable theme tune, which, like the other songs, were composed by Berry). Save for a few, the songs are awkward and forgettable, performed by those whose talents lie in acting (not necessarily singing).

Happily, this musical indulgence — which may be intentional — doesn’t ruin the series.

After all, every episode’s plot is brisk, helped along by its cast, such as Clem Fandango (Shazad Latif), a studio worker whose exchanges with Toast, while repetitive, have become — pardon this Internet metaphor — something of an epic meme; and Ray Purchase, Toast’s archrival whose entrance is always accompanied by a jaunty, soundtrack. Special appearances were also made by Jon Hamm (Mad Men’s Donald Draper) and singer and actor Michael Ball, who plays a part in one of its funniest episodes that pays tribute to the world’s most famous secret agent.

But enough raving. Next time you’re on the hunt for a decent comedy series on Netflix, just remember the name: it’s Toast, Steven Toast.

Jovidel R. Tabuena (@_ourdailybrad on Instagram) works part-time, reads books full-time, and is half-asleep most of the time.

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