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New ‘Love, Lies & Records’ Takes Drama Above Soap
November 16, 2017  | By David Hinckley

If you like This Is Us, you might take a fancy to the import series Love, Lies & Records.

Love, Lies & Records, a joint production of Acorn TV and BBC One, premieres Monday on Acorn, a day and a half after it premieres in Britain.

Ashley Jensen (top) stars in the six-episode series as Kate Dickinson, a woman who doesn’t have quite enough time either for shepherding her family at home or working in the town registrar’s office.

That doesn’t stop her from trying to devote full attention to both, with results that swing, sometimes quickly and wildly, from comic to poignant.

Things could easily descend into soap opera here, as Kate juggles her long-time live-in policeman boyfriend Rob (Adrian Bower, left) alongside office friends like James (Mark Stanley) and Rick (Kenny Doughty).

Just to keep things lively, James announces in the first episode that he is transitioning and evidence of Kate’s ill-advised quickie with Rick in a supply room at the last office Christmas party resurfaces at an awkward moment.

That quickie was caught on a security camera, unfortunately, and the footage saved by Kate’s office rival Judy (Rebecca Front, below), who is deeply resentful that Kate got a promotion Judy had been coveting.

You see the potential problem here. You also see the potential soap.

Soon, however, something startling happens. The registrar’s office, which sounds like the most mundane part of the whole show – there’s a reason more shows are not set in registrar’s offices, right? – turns out to be a great incubator.  

Taking advantage of the fact that people go there to mark the milestones of their lives, like births, marriage and citizenship, Love, Lies & Records latches onto small dramas that viewers can recognize from their own lives and circles.   

Where many shows shy away from what might sound mundane, this one reminds us the mundane stuff can define our lives. Boring? Not here.

Okay, it’s not all exactly routine.

In the first episode, we meet Simon (James Burrows), who wants to register the birth of his son and laments that he and the infant’s mother never got to get married.

Seems she was diagnosed with cancer early in the pregnancy and refused treatment because it might harm the baby. While they planned all along to get married, they just never found the moment to do it.

This becomes the emotional centerpiece of the episode, while the other mini-dramas and subplots swirl around, weaving in and out.

Jensen provides a strong anchor as the imperfect mother and imperfect employee who sometimes gets by on sheer will power. She takes both those roles with dead seriousness, which nicely sets up the frequent moments of inadvertent humor.

The name Love, Lies & Records still sounds like it should be setting up a drama in a music shop, if music shops existed anymore. The registrar’s office turns out to be a solid Plan B.

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