Not Going Out



Airdate: 8:40-9:20 p.m. Tuesday, May 20 (BBC America).

If nothing else, “Not Going Out” is a step toward international reciprocity and righting the balance of trade.

Among the three leads in this Britcom is American actress Megan Dodds, who plays one third of an offbeat romantic triangle. Considering the number of leads claimed by Brits and Aussies in new U.S. series this past season, Dodds’ appearance here barely nudges the scales of trade. Still, it’s a start.

Actually, it’s more than that. “Not Going Out” is full of wit and charm and hilariously improbable situations that occur everywhere from clown school to the neighborhood shopping mall. Each of the six episodes in the first season moves at a frantic pace, packed with stories and wordplay. (The show’s second season follows immediately after the first.)

In the series, Dodds plays Kate, a California health nut who works for a British publisher. Kate shares her apartment with Lee (Lee Mack), who, despite Kate’s prodding, is happy to move from one menial job to the next.

The third side of the triangle is Tim (Tim Vine), Lee’s best friend and Kate’s boyfriend until she caught him cheating with a younger woman. It’s a mistake that Tim regrets, but Kate won’t forgive him, though he asks her to at least once each episode. Meanwhile, there are vague undercurrents of sexual tension between Kate and Lee.

Mack and Vine starred in “The Sketch Show,” and their chemistry continues to be just as strong in this series. Vine, by the way, holds the Guinness Book record for most jokes told in an hour (499), though it seems from “Not Going Out” that Mack could have accomplished that feat as well. For American viewers, that just means it’s OK if a few zingers cloaked in British accents go by undetected. There will be more momentarily.

Surprise twists and turns and the dearth of sexual tension suggest the influence of “Seinfeld,” but “Not Going Out” has its own style and pace, which is worth staying in for.

Cast: Lee Mack, Megan Dodds, Tim Vine, Alexandra Gilbreath, Angela McHale. Production: Avalon Television. Executive producers: Lee Mack, Jon Thoday, Richard Allen-Turner,Sally Debonnair. Producer: Alex Hardcastle. Director: Nick Wood. Teleplay:Lee Mack, Andrew Collins.