MEDIA: Six Feet Under - An Expert's View. Felix Pearce loved HBO's offbeat comedy which reveals a fresh take on those dealing in death

In the boozer the other night, I mentioned to my footy-mad pals that I had turned over from World Cup Match of the Day to specifically watch a new drama about a dysfunctional family of undertakers. They looked at me as if I'd gone stark raving bonkers.

When I described how within five minutes the father gets killed in a massive side-on collision with a truck, totalling the new hearse, the eldest son gets busy in an airport loo with a complete stranger and the youngest daughter smokes her first crystal-meth pipe, my friends seemed more interested.

American Beauty writer Alan Ball's new comedy drama, Six Feet Under, is brilliant TV. The Fisher family in their LA funeral home are just as dysfunctional as the Osbourne or Simpson families but there is something uncannily real about them. The mother, Ruth, confesses to a long-running affair in the ante-chamber at her husband's funeral. Nate, the eldest brother, has massive commitment problems. David, his younger brother, bears the weight of the family business while desperately trying to keep his gay relationship with a local cop a secret. Claire, the youngest and only girl is a moody and angst-ridden teenager.

Six Feet Under provides a view of life from an odd angle, but it does so in an intelligent and realistic manner. I don't suppose this pitch-black comedy will have you rolling in the aisles, but it will leave you with a wry smile on your face. The mock ads dotted throughout promoting such macabre products as "wound filler and "embalming fluid are a great touch.

Channel 4 has again showed its commitment to bringing us distinctive drama of a very high quality. This is another cracker from HBO which ranks up there with The Sopranos and Sex and the City. My only qualm is that it's scheduled too late. If, like Sir Bob and me, you don't like Mondays, 11pm is past bedtime. Ten o'clock would be a better slot.

The first couple of episodes of Six Feet Under will be competing with the World Cup highlights but we should see a slight jump after that. I can't really see the Newsnight audience turning over to watch, but Johnny Vaughan's talk show on BBC1 might suffer. It will certainly be watched by both sexes avidly which should ensure that it gets talked about over time.

The repeat of Six Feet Under on E4 at nine on Wednesdays will mean that those in multi-channel households will have a more sensible time to watch.

I predict that Six Feet Under will create a buzz that has been lacking in drama for a while. It already has the spot buyers excited, which will mean appropriate brands clambering for position. Book early to avoid disappointment, and prepare to get hooked.

Channel: Channel 4
Frequency: Mondays at 11pm, repeated E4 on Wednesdays at 9pm
Audience: 1.8 million
Advertisers include: Samsung Mobile, Orange, Heinz, KFC, Finish, Abbey
National, Land Rover

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