Star Rating:

Man Vs. Bee 12

Streaming On: Watch Man Vs. Bee on Netflix

Actors: Rowan Atkinson

Release Date: Friday 24th June 2022

Genre(s): Comedy

Running time: 100 minutes

No matter what way you slice it, 'Man Vs. Bee' has all the hallmarks of a good idea turned bad by the requirements of a streaming service.

Carved up into fruitless ten to fifteen-minute episodes, 'Man Vs. Bee' marks an inauspicious return to television for Rowan Atkinson after 'The Thin Blue Line' ended its run in 1997. Before this, you had classics such as 'Blackadder', 'Not The Nine O'Clock News', and of course, 'Mr. Bean'. What's fascinating about 'Man Vs. Bee' is that it's effectively 'Mr. Bean' without the costume or the consistency of comedy.

Consider 'Blackadder' for a moment. Even though Atkinson's bitingly sarcastic creation is the central character, his best work is done alongside Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Miranda Richardson, Tony Robinson, and the late great Rik Mayall. 'Mr. Bean', likewise, worked when you had the silly man to bounce off any number of straight people in the vicinity. 'The Thin Blue Line' was an ensemble comedy, much like sketch show 'Not The Nine O'Clock News'.

The same goes for his movies, too. 'Rat Race', or to a lesser extent, 'Johnny English' only worked when he had someone to bounce off here. Even though 'Man Vs. Bee' does bring in some supporting cast like Julian Rhind-Tutt, it's mainly Atkinson versus the titular bee trying to keep the comedy going over nine episodes.

Atkinson is able to catapult himself across screen, land his face in dog poop, have his arse bitten by said dog, pull all sorts of contortions on his face, but it all feels so stifled and unnecessarily fussy, much like the house his character is babysitting for rich tosspots Julian Rhind-Tutt and Jing Lusi. You might yourself gasping at one or two moments out of reflex, but for the most part, 'Man Vs. Bee' feels like it's a thin concept flattened out even further by being a series and not a movie.

It's so obvious that 'Man Vs. Bee' was originally conceived and most likely filmed as a movie to be watched in an uninterrupted fashion. You could probably sit and watch the whole series in one sitting, but truthfully, the constant reminder that it's a series just feels like it's an opportunity to turn it off and watch something better.