'Man Vs Bee' review: It's a case of Bean there, done that

Only now did Trevor understand the phrase, 'And if you gaze long into a bee, the bee will also gaze back into you.' Photos: Handout

Why a bee, for crying out loud, that most useful and least aggressive member of the yellow-and-black-striped abdomen set?

Wouldn't we all sympathise more with Trevor Bingley (Rowan Atkinson), the "man" in Netflix's new comedy series Man Vs Bee, if he were to spend all nine episodes trying to squash, say, a loathsome cockroach? Particularly one that flies?

There's something to be said for this show's choice of nemesis, actually, that plays quite well into the parallels between Bingley and the rest of us.

Reuniting Atkinson with his Johnny English scriptwriter William Davies and his Johnny English Strikes Again director David Kerr, MvBee has a simple setup.

'To quote another famous Brit, things just got... out of hand.''To quote another famous Brit, things just got... out of hand.'

Trevor is a professional (heh!) house-sitter hired to look after the high-tech mansion of crazy rich couple Nina (Crazy Rich Asians' Jing Lusi) and Christian (Julian Rhind-Tutt) while they go on vacation.

A bee enters the home at the same time Trevor does, and refuses to leave.

Worse still, it defies all of his efforts to shoo it away or kill it off, leading to Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie-level mayhem.

And that's really why we all came here in the first place, right – the Mr Bean-style slapstick for which Atkinson is most famous, in spite of his far more subtle and layered turns in Blackadder and Not The Nine O'Clock News (and even the Johnny English movies).

Trevor is a lot more than just an articulate Bean, though, and a distillation of Atkinson's greatest hits.

He's all of us too, the ones who get distracted so easily from the task at hand by faint buzzing noises (like stupid statements by public figures – erm, I mean, insect sounds) to the point of obsession.

'Ooh don't mind me, I'm from the Ministry of Silly Walks. On vacation. But we're never really on holiday, right?''Ooh don't mind me, I'm from the Ministry of Silly Walks. On vacation. But we're never really on holiday, right?'

Until a humble bug takes on the proportions of a veritable Mo-bee Dick, and all sense of priority is lost.

And as Trevor's insecticidal efforts intensify, our sympathies gradually shift from man to bee, occasionally to dog (yes, there's an adorably frisky and destructive Lhasa Apso in the mix), and sometimes, they teeter on the border.

Sure, Trevor gets fleshed out a little as we see that he's trying to be a good dad to a daughter who adores him (while his ex-wife certainly doesn't) but his obsessiveness veers back into frame just as we start to warm to him.

In that sense, he's both wildly different from and yet quite similar to Bean; and the end result is equal parts amusing (though never hilarious) and cringeworthy, with more "OMG Noooo!" foreshadowing thrown in than you would find in a Stephen King novel.

Still, MvBee, is an evening's easy binge with episodes that average out below 15 minutes and end just before they start to grate.

And in the real world, Atkinson is fronting a bee conservation campaign to mark the release of the show, so life is certainly not imitating, uh, art.

More surprising, though, is the buzz that a second season is in the offing. Seriously? Well, to quote The Pollinator: I'll bee back.

All nine episodes of Man Vs Bee are available on Netflix.

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Oh, beehave. 'Man Vs Bee' is vintage Rowan Atkinson,

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