A couple of cops on an all-night stakeout, two lieutenants coordinating the operation from the station switchboard, and a pair of crooks, all of them waiting to “jump into action”, are our six protagonists in this HBO MAX original production sitcom Sin novedad, premiering on December 19 in what can be best described as a worthy heir to some of the best comedy from the popular hit TV show, Camera Café.
Whereas Camera Café narrated the day-to-day goings-on in a dysfunctional office, Sin novedad, which also stars Arturo Valls in one of the leading roles, transfers the anecdotes and utterly absurd dialogues to the dark underbelly of police surveillance operations of the criminal underworld in and around the so-called ‘Operation Crouton’. A sting operation mounted to intercept the arrival of a shipment at the dry port in Madrid containing coffee capsules… yes, that’s right, coffee, albeit mixed with amphetamines. A full-blown police surveillance op, apparently routine, and as such, with plenty of wee hours down time filled with bizarre dialogues and plot twists from left field.
The cast brings together some of the best-known names on the Spanish comedy scene today, including Arturo Valls and Carlos Areces on the graveyard shift in their patrol car, the latter playing the alpha machito, while the former portrays a cop currently experiencing a “new phase” of sexual experimentation. Toni Acosta and Omar Banana respectively play a hit woman come animal lover and a rookie aspiring criminal as the mafia’s connections on the ground to receive the drugs. And Pilar Castro and Adriana Torrebejano coordinate operations from the police HQ, Castro in the skin of an ex-beat cop, now restricted to desk duty and removed from the streets, mother to a porn-addicted teen; and the second, nicknamed ‘Charlie horse’ after displaying a trigger-happy tendency when it comes to unholstering her taser to subdue suspects.
And it’s during these long, boring graveyard shift hours on watch when our six incorrigible characters, a Motley crew if ever there was one, break the silence, filling the void with storytelling and sharing personal anecdotes, thus winning audiences’ hearts and minds. The policeman who doesn’t know how to run properly, becoming the brunt of mockery among his workmates and who penetrates the world of sexting with elderly men… The hitmen, more overexploited than any rider in a food delivery company, rehearsing aloud the punchlines they’ll use before snuffing out their victims candles… And the police lieutenants back at the communications center in the police station, as they share jokes over bedside frolics and any other humdrum issue they can think of to kill time.
Indeed, the key to getting audiences hooked and making this simple, yet hilarious set up work is the brilliant performances from our six protagonists. The project draws on a blend of well-established names with revelation actors, like Omar Banana, discovered by ‘Los Javis’, and who is proving to be a genuine diamond in the rough with every role he embodies, just as true in Veneno, as it was in Reyes de la Noche and again here.
With a very simple, no-frills approach, Sin novedad is the ideal dose of fun-packed entertainment for these pre-Christmas times of marathon platform sessions, capsule-like brevity of the episodes and fast-paced comedy gold in at the three locations where the action takes place, with the added attraction of several cameos and special appearances by other comedians, including Rober Bodegas, from Pantomima Full; in the role of a security guard, gung-ho to prove his worth in the eyes of law and order; or the great Goyo Jiménez, playing a cop who did his training in the US with none other than the LAPD.
Sin Novedad is an adaptation of the Australian format No Activity, directed by Rodrigo Sopeña (La hora de José Mota, LOL) and co-written with Álex Mendíbil, another graduate from the Camera Café academy. Produced in Spain by Warner Bros., the show has already been successfully adapted in other countries including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the Middle East.