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8 'Peep Show' episodes to endlessly rewatch before it returns

The classic British comedy "Peep Show" begins its final series Wednesday, if only in the UK. But Americans can tide themselves over with these eight classic episodes (or, you know, all of them).

If you live in the UK, congrats! Wednesday night you can legally start watching the ninth and final season of “Peep Show,” the long-running Channel 4 comedy about odd couple friends/now-former-roommates, uptight Mark (David Mitchell) and nincompoop Jez (Robert Webb). Since its debut 12 years ago, the two have been locked in crippling co-dependency. The last episode, which aired three years ago, found them finally on the outs, though we knew they’d come grumpily together.

RELATED: "Peep Show" coming back in November makes everything better

But viewers in America waiting to legally watch it can tide themselves over. The whole thing resides on Netflix Instant, after all. And “Peep Show” — whose gimmick is that’s shot entirely in POV shots, with accompanying, often grouchy narration beamed from our antiheroes’ deluded brains — has high rewatchability factor. Like “BoJack Horseman,” it’s fun (if you will) to stew again and again in Mark and Jez’s failures, including, but not limited to, their inability to form lasting relationships apart from each other. As such, cobbling together a heaping handful of favorite episodes is not a bother.

Here, then, is our highly subjective (though totally spot-on) list of picks for “Peep Show”’s eight best episodes:

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Series 1, Episode 4: ‘Mark Makes a Friend’

Any show takes awhile to find its voice, and though “Peep Show”’s inaugural three are very funny — the one where Mark and Jez go to a party and Mark winds up on a date-of-sorts with a goth teen is a real keeper — it didn’t all click into place until the fourth. Here, Mark, ever the modern-day keeper of the repressive Old Britannia torch, finds himself in love — yes, with long-time crush Sophie (Olivia Colman), but perhaps moreso, for a spell, with cocksure corporate shark Alan Johnson (Paterson Joseph).

Peak moment: Mark would never cop to his prodigiously buried homosexual leanings, but he does tiptoe just this once, at one point renting hardcore gay porn before quickly finding it “too rich for my blood.”

Series 2, Episode 2: ‘Jeremy Makes It’

Again, Mark’s combination of loneliness and antisocial behavior provide high comedic fodder, this time with him actually making a new friend (Steve Edge)…who turns out to be a racist. Mark’s attempts to dump him go about as swimmingly as expected. The Jez plot is nearly as strong, with the aspiring (and bad) musician worming his way into recording the score for a short film being made by an old schoolmate, with weirdly violent results.

Peak moment: It’s a tie, really, sort of. First, there’s maybe the greatest scene in “Peep Show” history: the one where Mark “tries out” racism while couch potatoing with Jez, rattling off bigoted terms before being reminded that even the not-very-enlightened Jez thinks “It’s not on.” But we’d be remiss in not mentioning the maybe ever greatest moment involving ever-reliable reprobate friend Super Hans (Matt King), when he takes his first of many casual puffs of crack at a nice engagement party. (Jez: “What are you smoking?” Hans: “Just a bit of crack.”)

Series 3, Episode 3: ‘Shrooming’

There are two great, very different drug episodes in the third season. The first finds Jez trying to throw a mushroom party while Mark is supposed to be on a business trip. When Mark is too sick to go and returns home, Jez overdoses him on cold medicine and locks him him in his room so the party can rage. Add a broken bathroom door that hasn’t been properly repaired and this leads to a grisly conclusion.

Peak moment: Super Hans freaking out in the bathroom when the door sticks and kicking it down like a Robocop is tempting, but we’re going with Mark’s monologue into a mirror when Jez, unwilling to let him out to do some sick poo in the toilet, slips a bag under his door and asks him to go in that. (“Can I do this? If I do this, even if I end up marrying Sophie and we live in a detached house in Surrey and we buy a holiday home in Umbria, our children will always look up at the face of a man who once crapped in a takeaway bag.”)

Series 3, Episode 5: ‘Jurying’

The second drug episode of the season again finds Mark put in an uncomfortable, grumpy spot, though this time it’s merely that he winds up reluctantly on the town with Sophie, who’s finally agreed to be his official ladyfriend, and doing ecstasy (what the kids called Molly back then). Only Mark doesn’t take ecstasy; he just pretends he did, and does quite a bad job of it.

Peak moment: Mark asking Jez for tips on how to appear that he’s rolling on E then telling Sophie he’s come down with “the famous munchies” is an obvious one, though there’s also the smaller moment of Mark reminding Jez that he’s so slow he can’t even follow “Ocean’s Eleven.” (“It’s a complicated film.” “It really isn’t.”)

Series 4, Episode 6: ‘Wedding’

The finale of the third season ended with Mark accidentally engaged to Sophie after he realized he wanted to break it off, all because she stumbled upon his engagement ring and put two and two together. So rather than confess his feelings, Mark has decided to spend the rest of his life in a lie. And so he soldiered through the entire fourth series while spinning his wheels, waiting to maybe (but definitely not) call it quits. By the wedding in the series ender, he was a total wreck, trying to find ridiculous ways out, including walking in front of a moving car in a parking lot. (Unfortunately the driver hits the breaks.)

Peak moment: Again, it’s so tempting to go with something big, like Mark whimsically asking a random coffee shop barista to marry him instead. (“Just one more thing: Will you marry me?” “Well…no.” “Oh.”) But let’s go with Mark belatedly discovering, mid-ceremony, his about-to-be-bride’s middle name. (“Hortensia? This is a f—ing disaster!”)

Series 5, Episode 2: ‘Spin War’

Mark and Sophie did part ways, if in the car bearing a “just married” sign moments after they were wed. It took till the second episode of the next series for both to return to work — since they’re employed at the same place; don’t date coworkers! — at which point Mark absorbed untold verbal abuse from his colleagues…but also met Dobby (Isy Suttie), an IT droog who’s even dorkier than him but also more forthright. We’ve been highlighting Mark a lot here, but the Jez plot is also bangers: He and Super Hans rope Sophie’s meek, awkward little brother to join their band, only to find that he’s significantly, significantly better than both of them combined.

Peak moment: Again, a tie! Mark and Dobby’s leftfield supply closet tryst is weirdly actually erotic, but even better is Mark running into Sophie and smirking arch-nemesis Jeff (Neil Fitzmaurice) after. Their taunts at his, er, wet pants can’t get him down, though: “I win because they all think I pissed myself, when they have no idea I came in my pants!” The other peak bit was Jez and Super Hans’ inadvertently philosophical discussion after hearing Sophie’s brother’s music and realizing it sounds just like they thought they were always trying to do, and concluding that he’s effectively, in a way, ripped them off. “Sometimes it’s just really hard to do your ideas,” Jez muses.

Series 5, Episode 5: ‘Jeremy’s Manager’

Road trips are always good for “Peep Show,” and much as we love the one where they go to a university and Mark pretends to be a student (under the tutelage of future Malcolm Tucker and Doctor Who lead Peter Capaldi), or the one where they go to Sophie’s parents’ country cottage and Jez bangs her mom, or the one where they go on a stag trip on a boat and wind up eating a dead/burned dog, we’re going with this one. Here, Jez and Super Hans score a comely manager (Nicky Wardley) who drags them to a Christian music festival with no drugs. She also takes an inexplicable liking to Mark, but that can’t last.

Peak moment: So many great bits here, but the one where Mark agrees to fake-believe in the power of crystal skulls so that his new gal pal will sleep with him is beautiful. (“Sorry, science. Sorry, logic.”)

Series 7, Episode 6: ‘New Year’s Eve’

The seventh series was stocked with episodes set at one location or hooked to a specific day: Sophie giving birth to the child who may belong to Mark or Jez; the one where Mark and Jez find themselves trapped in an apartment building with a funky front door lock; a predictably disastrous Christmas Day. But the New Year’s Eve episode is a rollicking, crazy ride, with Mark and Jez (and occasionally Super Hans) crashing party after party looking for Dobby.

Peak moment: At one point they wind outside an apartment party recommended by Super Hans, only to find Super Hans outside, actually ashen and saying it was too much even for him. Jez braves it, only to return moments later, shaken and not wanting to talk about it. It’s like the black box containing a secret kink from that scene in Luis Bunuel’s “Belle de Jour”: anything a writer would come up with could never top simply never knowing what lurks inside.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge
 
 
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