It’s almost too often that we see a show that got cancelled for just reason (lack of ratings, or buzz) live on a little bit longer for no particular reason other than a network is out of ideas, or just looking to cash in on the small, but passionate percentage of people who still want to walk around the world this series brought to life. It happened with Arrested Development, which was amazing for three seasons on network TV and mediocre at best on Netflix. It’s could very well happen when Twin Peaks returns–after over twenty years!–on Showtime in 2016. But it’s certainly not the case with Hello Ladies: The Movie.
On a base level, we have to face the facts and admit that Hello Ladies wasn’t nearly a smash hit, only getting a couple hundred thousand viewers for its first and only season, including a few of us filles. But as any of those couple thousand fans know, unlike Arrested Development or Twin Peaks, this show ended without a real ending, leaving more than a few loose ends dangling, particularly a major one involving lead character Stuart (creator, EP and irresistible dork Stephen Merchant) and his unconsummated sexual tension with roommate Jessica (Christine Woods). In other words, this is a show that actually deserved to be brought back, or rather, to be finished, even if just for a little under an hour and half on a Saturday.
Sure, it’s a bit upsetting that Hello Ladies: The Movie is getting relegated to a late-night broadcast (10 p.m. ET/PT) on a weekend night, but on the plus side, this scheduling provides the perfect in for hosting a viewing party. And having seen the whole thing earlier this week, we can safely say that this is one you’ll want to watch with fellow fans of the show, so you can revel in the greatness that was, and still is, Merchant’s comedic style, chemistry with Woods, timing with on-screen bestie Nate Torrence (Wade on the show), and choice in theme song.
As with the series, Hello Ladies: The Movie centres around Stuart heading to glamorous-seeming L.A. parties hoping to bag himself a model girlfriend for the night. There is even one involving a surprise guest star who fits in well with the tone of the show without taking the spotlight away from Merchant. But perhaps what’s even better than those moments are the quieter parts with Stuart hashing out his issues with the opposite sex with Wade and Jessica, and–just maybe–coming to some new, improved conclusions.
This being the wrap-up movie, there is a lot of emotional exposition as Stuart builds to some realizations about himself and his awkward behaviour around women, and most of it is done with the same brand of effortless, dry-humoured charm that Merchant cultivated working on The Office. One at-home moment between Jessica and Stuart is a stand-out, but as are some latter scenes with Stuart, Wade and Wade’s new lady, the perfectly cast and ridiculously adorable Allison Tolman. It’s really a shame that Torrence and Tolman didn’t get to spend a season being the cutest couple to never grace TV, but at least they are given pretty decent screen time here, almost as to prove a point to viewers and to Stuart that while sex is great, love can be even better if you can bring yourself to let it in.
It will always be too bad that more people didn’t get a chance to love Hello Ladies, the show, but at least this film gives those who did the proper send-off, capturing the same feel of the series while also adding some new, needed and poignant final notes. If this is goodbye, the real goodbye, Ladies, we’ll certainly miss you, but man, did you go out in the very manner the Stuart we met on the show would have wanted you to, basking in the afterglow of a perfectly timed and satisfactory climax.
Hello Ladies: The Movie airs this Saturday, November 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Canada.