The Great British Sitcom: The Fenn Street Gang

Discussion in 'Notable TV' started by Mel O'Kalikimaka, Sep 17, 2016.

  1. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Baroness Benjamin appeared in the final episode of the first series. Sans Humpty, sadly, but never mind. Seeing her takes me straight back to childhood, and it felt almost wrong to see her playing a bit of a goer who kept getting discovered in bed with Susan's brother Winston. They were both fully clothed, but still...

    This is one of the examples that shows how relaxed and relatively liberal the series' attitude is towards sex. Like we know that Susan and Thomas lived together for some time before getting married. And we've heard about Thomas's previous girlfriends, with the implication that they've been sexually active. Even Susan's Mum Matilda has related the story of a woman throwing herself at William. William eventually brought the woman home, took her into the bedroom and invited her into the bed... with Matilda still in it. There's no big deal about it here. Just frank, open conversations and a lack of tweeness and inhibition. There are no twin beds here, and - flu notwithstanding - when Thomas and Susan go to bed, it's rarely to sleep or read.

    This relaxed attitude serves to reinforce the uptightness of the older generation. It's amusing to see Thomas's parents Annie and Edward at the housewarming party looking completely out of their comfort zone, surrounded by younger people dancing to mid tempo music, swigging from beer cans and smoking pot. Both of them gawping at Boycie from Fools And Horses (credited here as "Man in robe"). Edward's face a mask of horror on realising that Thomas has gay friends.



    Oh my stars!

    I do enjoy a good audio commentary. Even if I'm not too familiar with the original material. And this seemed like a fun one.
     
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  2. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm happy to report that this has most definitely been the case. Certainly by the latter part of Series Two, the output is, up to a point, more standard fare. Which sounds like a bad thing, but I think it's a really good sign that the novelty of the premise has worn off with the writers.

    In a previous reference to the series I mentioned warmth, and I feel that's grown to become one of the hallmarks of this series. From the catchy theme through to the harmonious freeze frame at the end of each episode (which, happily, frequently capture the couple's loving acceptance of their dysfunctional extended families), this is clearly a sitcom, not separated from its peers, but with its own unique tone which feels like it's grown out of the sum of its parts. The ending to series two, with the families learning of Susan's pregnancy is a great example of this. It subtly shows an acceptance amongst the parents of a situation they would have each found very difficult to fathom in the early days of Series One. There are still concerns, of course. But they're aired with a gentleness that shows the forward momentum.

    It's important, of course, that the series keeps acknowledging and honouring its characters' ethnic background, but it's equally important that it's done in an organic way. In the first few episodes, I was concerned that there were just too many one dimensional gags about race. To the detriment of character. That seems to be happening less now. Thankfully, from the beginning, Thomas and Susan's relationship has been one that recognises their different ethnic backgrounds but also celebrates it.

    There are still characters for whom the racial divide is more prominent. They're very necessary to this setup. There needs to be a degree of conflict, division or whatever you care to name it. Mrs Beasley, the nosey neighbour, is a key example. Still counting the black faces going into the flat and panicking if they outnumber the whites. Her concerns are usually dealt with by Aunt Dorothy delivering one of her sarcastic acid put-downs.

    Thomas's Mum's concerns are shown to stem from an insularity and lack of worldliness. Her faux pas stem from a belief that British people of different ethnic backgrounds live in a dramatically different way to the one she's familiar with. And so come the "foot in mouth" questions to Susan and Matilda. Tellingly, the questions or the answers she receives often relate to use of colour. Such as asking about funeral customs (Matilda wearily comments that black people wear white to funerals), or baby clothes (she asks if "you people" do pink for a girl and blue for a boy). They're quite revealing about how Annie categorises by colour and is comfortable with these things in their simple boxes. She'd probably feel as threatened at the thought of a newborn girl wearing a blue babygro as she does about her white son marrying a black woman.

    Both fathers are still clashing nicely, but there's more respect between them. There's male ego involved and a great deal of pride. They're essentially schoolboys playing top trumps, each desperate to prove that the cards they hold are good enough. The topic of race still comes up between them, but it's just one of the categories on the cards, and each tries to spin it so that theirs is the winner.

    In situations away from their competitive duels, they're shown to be more reasonable. In my first post on this subject, I described Edward as intransigent. It was heartening and quite moving to watch one of the first episodes of Series Three in which he proved me wrong.

    The scenario had Edward in full Colonel Blimp mode when going on holiday with his wife, son and daughter in law. Of course, he insisted on holidaying in the UK, at the most British establishment he could think of. Only to get there and find to his horror that it had been taken over by Italians, with the hotel overrun with German, Spanish, French and American tourists. There was a skit where he was trying to order a drink, only to find that he couldn't order a bitter, but only German or Dutch lager (cue the "we didn't fight them on the beaches to end up drinking their foreign beer on our holiday" type remarks. Asking for the most British drink they had, he was steered towards Scotch whisky, only to then be asked if he would like Perrier water with it ("No I would not. I will have it with some good British water from a good British tap. You do have British taps, don't you? Or have you got a direct line from Paris?" Or words to that effect). All very reminiscent of that Kenneth Williams Buy British sketch from the Peter Cook revue One Over The Eight.

    On going to check out of the hotel early in disgust, Edward met another Blimp who'd just done the same. Excited to find a kindred spirit, Edward agreed enthusiastically as the second Blimp raved angrily about all the points to which Edward had already taken umbrage. And then came the clincher. The second Blimp seethed to Edward that the hotel was letting a black girl stay at the hotel. And not just that, but she'd been seen holding hands with a white man. And what terrible, namby pamby parents must that young white man must have. And it's then that Edward did what he could never have done had he been in conversation with William (and probably not even Thomas). He admitted that the other man had taught him a lesson. And then he ordered the desk staff to take his cases back to his room so he could complete his holiday. It's a small step, but incredibly significant and it was very touching to see it play out.







    I woke up this morning with the song in my head. It's far too catchy and I dare say it will still be rattling round my head long after I finish watching.
     
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  3. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Something I forgot to mention:

    The "progressive" angle of the series is certainly there. We've had the mixed marriage and the gay friends. Now we've had the evil reverend who hassled the families on their doorstep to push for his jumble collection. Discovering that a valuable tchotchke of William's had been accidentally donated, he then held it for ransom until William bought it back at a price he was happy with.

    Such a delightful change from the usual syrupy reverence with which men of the cloth are all too frequently treated on screen.
     
  4. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    After a week and a half of enjoyment, Mixed Blessings drew to a close last night.

    There were a few tweaks for the third series. There was a little more ebb and flow in the families appearing, and some episodes in which one side of the family didn't appear at all. But absence makes the heart grow fonder so all's well there.

    Other than an episode involving a court appearance, Winston's role in particular seemed to diminish and the bubble burst completely with his final appearance midway through the last series. In his initial series three appearances I thought they'd recast. He looks very different with the dreads. I've only today realised that he's Carmen Munroe's son in real life as well as onscreen.

    One of the last episodes did the obligatory "trapped" episode with both families snowed in at the flat. There's an inherent cosiness to this setup: whether it's the Grace Brothers staff forced to camp out at the shop; Jessica Fletcher stuck in a diner with dead bodies and an unknown murderer; or the Ewings held at gunpoint during a hurricane (it works in print as well... long before any of the aforementioned events, Agatha Christie trapped her characters on an island). The Mixed Blessings episode not only used some of the cliches... it had fun with them. Cue Thomas's fake histrionics.

    The final episode had a nice sense of event by marking a significant milestone for everyone with the arrival of Thomas and Susan's baby. The concerns over race, which have mostly been moved to the periphery of the series, were more prominent here - particularly the new grandfathers' anxieties over what skin tone the baby is going to have ("Could we see a colour chart?", quipped Aunt Dorothy at one point). It was gently done, and gave the episode both a sense of coming full circle and a suggestion that the family squabbles will continue. Which proved very satisfying.

    The three series went by far too quickly and was very easily to digest. I could probably happily have watched another few series without becoming tired of it, but I'd take quality over quantity any day. The series was fluffy but, despite my reservations at the beginning, it was quality fluff with a likeable cast, a little bit of pioneering and some good, gentle laughs. I left it smiling.
     
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  5. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Next up, a series that began the year after Mixed Blessings ended...

    [​IMG]

    It Takes A Worried Man is new to me. I don't even recall it being advertised when I was young, while I have fond memories of the same creative team's Shelley which aired around the same time.

    I went into this knowing that the lead actor is also the creator and writer. This isn't an easy thing to pull off, so I had my concerns going in. I've only watched two episodes, but I'm very much enjoying the tone of the series. The humour is dry, observational and more than a little bitter.

    Peter Tilbury is a great everyman... his world weary hatchet face feeling very fitting for the lines coming from Philip's mouth. His acerbic delivery reminds me of David Mitchell - someone I can't help but find endearing. So that's helping.

    There's a naturalism to what's on screen that gives the series a "grown up" air. There's been talk of sex and genitals. There's the getting ready for a blind date, with talc in all the required places. And then the chat in bed after a hook up (I have a feeling the critical and needy posh woman in question is going to play a key role in things. At least from the DVD cover). And there's been one "shit" thrown in, which raised my eyebrow as it was not the norm during the early Eighties. A British man having an analyst at this time seems almost exotic - at least on paper. The way it's played is as downbeat and unglamorous as the rest of the series (even the synthesised theme music sounds depressingly half-hearted). There's also - at least so far - some nice continuity between episodes.

    Christopher Benjamin as "the old man" - Philip's boss - was an instant hit with me. His potato face gives him such a great character look, and he knows just how to deliver a line to get the biggest smile. And the rivalry with his colleague from "the open plan" is very enjoyable.

    So far, so good. I think I'm going to enjoy this one.
     
  6. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm thoroughly enjoying It Takes A Worried Man... The dialogue is so peppy. I just wish I had a better memory for one-liners and quips because there have been some absolute gems in this series. They're all the more funny because they're embedded in reality. When characters in this series make observations about life, people, work, relationships or whatever it's like they're saying exactly what I'd thought and been too lazy to say.

    The long scenes, limited locations and sharp dialogue give the series a stagey air that rings of quality. Had Coward or Wilde written an Eighties sitcom this is very close to how I'd imagine it.

    I'm nearing two thirds of the way through the entire series now. Sue Holderness as Liz, the new love interest for series two is very likeable. Not that likeability is a requirement for this series. But it does help. Nicholas Le Provoust as the world's most inappropriate analyst is great. He has a uniquely British eccentricity to him and this seems very much like the kind of role that would become Hugh Laurie's forte just a few short years afterwards. I didn't think I recognised him, but his IMDb CV is very impressive indeed and I've certainly seen him in some things over the years. Some of them quite recently (The Bounder). I see he was also in Shelley, so in addition to Peter Tilbury's writing that's another reason to (re)visit that series sometime soon-ish.
     
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  7. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    And so after exactly two weeks of on/off watching, It Takes A Worried Man... has come to an end. In-keeping with the series itself, the end was low key, slightly downbeat and with little sense of closure.

    For some reason I'm finding this a difficult series to comment on. Or at least I'm conscious that my comments don't do justice to its quiet genius. I haven't managed to capture the appeal the series holds for me in the last few posts and I feel a little overwhelmed at the idea of doing so.

    So I'll just say that I've laughed regularly. The sort of laugh that usually only emerges when I'm around friends with a particularly acerbic wit. A laugh that comes from finding both truth in humour, and the relief that someone else has said it. Like the curious uplift that is occasionally to be found when in proximity to a squabbling couple exchanging barbs while you're quietly enjoying a cup of tea.
     
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  8. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Already I'm two thirds of the way through my next Britcom sojourn.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    At only six episodes long, plus an unaired Pilot episode, this falls into the category of hidden gems. What grabbed me was that it's written by Jack Rosenthal... a name I've long associated with early Corrie. And with me enjoying The Lovers so much earlier in this very thread, taking a gamble on this one during one of Network's sales seemed a no-brainer.

    The opening narration had me a little worried. But it turns out that this series is in many ways a fitting follow-on from the mundanities of It Takes A Worried Man... In common with that series, Sadie mines the prosaic for gold in dialogue that is, at times, poetic. Such as Sadie's visit to the doctor, her nerves in shreds:

    Sadie is in many ways a prototype for Butterflies' Ria. A frustrated housewife, her weariness growing by the day. Her fantasies holding her afloat. There's also a hint of Reginald Perrin to the tedium of daily routine. There are catchphrases used in the series, but Sadie is even weary of these, giving an autopilot reply to her husband's greeting of "It's that fella you married", and sighing when having to flatly explain to her husband his relationship to Marilyn ("Your daughter. She's got fat legs and a deep freeze the size of our kitchen and nothing in it") or Mrs Bellamy the neighbour ("She's lived next door for nineteen years. She's got blue hair and two poodles called Mike and Bernie. They've got blue hair as well").

    Rosemary Leach - a familiar face, though I'm not sure from what exactly - is both endearing and funny. A winning combination. Bernard Hepton bumbles nicely. All the chemistry is good. I'm already feeling a little sad that there are so few episodes to enjoy.
     
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  9. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Sadie's flying visit is over. A very watchable series, with an enjoyably cynical bite that worked for me.

    The final scene seemed to acknowledge the series ending. Whether or not the ending was known to be permanent is a bit of a mystery, but it gave a kind of closure to proceedings.

    I rounded things off by watching the unaired Pilot episode, of which it seems the first regular episode was a word for word remake (with Birds Of A Feather's Dorien replacing Fran from Brookside as the stroppy cashier). The remade episode was slicker and had a better energy, but the Pilot had superior opening and closing titles and theme. The main series used a cheesy uptempo instrumental riff based on Baby It's Cold Outside playing over the lead characters humorously failing to cross the road while dropping shopping everywhere. The Pilot's music was more melancholic and downbeat, and it featured photos of Sadie and Norman through the course of their relationship. In my opinion it better captured the tone of the series and looked far classier.
     
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  10. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Next up is yet another "new to me" British sitcom...

    [​IMG]


    Paula Yates has been a familiar recurring face through my sitcom visits of recent years. Most recently (by my watching order) in The Lovers, in which I enjoyed her performance very much. Christopher Beeny has been another, between In Loving Memory and Last Of The Summer Wine. Here's one that pairs them up as neighbours (and possibly the couple that isn't yet that the audience is meant to root for).

    Even more than Mixed Blessings, the premise seems less bold today than it would have been on its first airing over four decades ago. This is evident from the slightly nervous audience laughter on seeing a pregnant woman describe herself as "Miss". And from the reactions of mothers in neighbouring beds on the maternity ward, all of whom have their horses and carts in the expected order. There's a hint of female empowerment to the proceedings, and it's clear that Elizabeth has every intention of living a full life even with a baby. Already she's dealt with sexual harassment from a would-be employer and attended a dinner party hosted by Alma Barrie. And that's in addition to giving birth, naming her baby and fending off overprotective parents.

    It's early days, but with likeable characters and a pleasant vibe it does feel very easy to step into. By the time Roger Webb's jaunty theme tune is halfway through and the opening cartoons play out one can't help but feel a bit brighter. I see the first episode aired on a Monday, and it does have the perfect tone to make Mondays feel a bit less Monday-ish.
     
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  11. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh - Paula Wilcox! I always want to write Yates, but I'm usually better at checking myself.
     
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  12. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    After a formulaic-but-highly-enjoyable series of episodes in which Elizabeth flapped about hiding either her baby or her marital status, the fifth episode got delightfully soapy.

    As young Roland's Christening approached, Liz was contacted by Roland's dad-who-doesn't-know-he's-the-dad, Alan, who told her he and his new wife were expecting a baby (he's hoping for a boy). We learnt about the new wife in the first episode, so it wasn't a huge surprise.

    But then Alan showed up unexpectedly on the day of the ceremony, and through speaking to another friend of Liz's, deduced that neighbour Geoffrey is neither Liz's husband nor Roland's father (both of which she'd convinced him in Episode One). But it's only when the friend went on to say that Liz had been with Roland's real father for several years that the penny dropped.

    The following scene is one that's decidedly un-sitcom-like. Alan says nothing to an unsuspecting Liz about what he knows. Then after holding his baby briefly he says his goodbyes, takes his leave and leaves things exactly as they are. I found it very unexpected, and it's endeared this already watchable series to me even more greatly.

    The scenario felt very end of series-ish, but actually there's still an episode left of Series One and another six to follow that one. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to them.
     
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  13. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I've been hopeless at updating, but I've now finished Miss Jones And Son and have moved on to my next series.

    A few words about Miss Jones:

    Moving Geoffrey out after a whole series of what felt like the build up to a Save The Best For Last romance between platonic friends was a little curious. I suspect Christopher Beeny was otherwise engaged, perhaps with The Rag Trade or the upcoming In Loving Memory (the latter perhaps more likely, given the amount of location work involved). It was nice that he was able to return for the first two episodes of Series Two for if not closure then at least an acknowledgment and a passing farewell.

    With Geoffrey out, a new neighbour was needed. Enter a lone parent with his slightly snooty daughter who turns out to have a heart of gold. Definite shades of Richard Waring's other vehicle, ...And Mother Makes Three.

    Perhaps they knew they were on the clock, or perhaps the original script had been for things to move forward with Geoffrey and scripts were hastily tweaked. Either way, they didn't waste any time with pairing the two up. I'd say the final episode wasn't planned as such as there was no real closure or ending. It ended with a kind of squabble on a break in the country (didn't another Britcom end in a very similar way? It feels very familiar).

    There was an unusually high degree of live baby shots in the series. It's the kind of setup that makes me wonder if they'd be able to do that now with health and safety regulations. Not that young Roly seemed to mind. He seems one of the more contented screen children - looking happily round at the lights and the laughing audience, and listening carefully to Paula Wilcox chattering at him. I think there was even a perfectly timed burp at one point.

    Anyway, long story short Paula Wilcox made this a very enjoyable series. Cass Allen as her maternity ward friend who kept popping in to say hello was very much appreciated also.
     
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  14. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Already, I'm two thirds of the way through what's turning out to be a remarkably quick and easy Britcom to watch:


    [​IMG]


    Perhaps best described as After Henry meets Peep Show with a healthy dash of Fawlty Towers, Black Books has been on my viewing radar for some time now.

    There is going to be a bit of adjustment time switching to a relatively contemporary series after a long time of watching more gentle and vintage series. For someone who has more or less entirely detoxed from American TV for a significant period of time, the most jarring thing about Black Books is that there is something vaguely mid-Atlantic about it - certainly compared with the majority of other series in this thread.

    Whether it's that the product has become more Americanised or the product is representative of a culture which has become more Americanised is difficult to say. Perhaps a little of both. Certainly the language feels less British than anything I've recently watched. There's been at least one "can I get...?", for example. And I've also noticed a "sick" (meaning generally off colour, in lieu of "ill" or "unwell" - though in this case it may be an Irish thing rather than an American thing). But it's the delivery and the general tone of the series that also feels as though cues are being taken from American series as well as British sitcoms of the past. There's something very frenetic, animated and knowing about the series and the characters. Dylan Moran in particular has done a number of jerky movements very reminiscent of Matthew Perry or David Schwimmer on Friends.

    This has created an interesting (at least to me) juxtaposition of most of the characters being terribly British at the same time. In a way the way I'm approaching the series sums up its very premise: that I'm watching the death throes of an old, outdated brigade. Like three red squirrels defending their little piece of England from the invasion of greys, defeat seems inevitable. It's been worked into the storyline more than once, with huge Borders-like bookstores, replete with coffee bars, comfy sofas and huge muffins threatening their very existence. They've taken the "if you can't beat 'em..." to uncomfortable effect which perhaps is a comment in itself.

    All said and done, there is something quintessentially British about Black Books, and particularly the characters it inhabits. Cynical, lazy Bernard could easily be Philip Roath from It Takes A Worried Man... Or perhaps Basil Fawlty. And there's something a little Pythonesque about the more surreal aspects.

    As a viewer, the beats of laughs in the series are very different from recent series. Rather than a gentle stream of humour that lifts and keeps me afloat to create a feelgood factor, there's a still glassy pond that is completely flat at times. From this, a huge geyser will erupt anywhere from one to four times per episode and send me flying into heady heights of laughter, the after effects of which keep going for some time.

    Just when I was thinking the series could be a trial, along came this scene:


    Soon topped by what's been the pinnacle for me so far - the old actor boyfriend who is an object of revulsion for Fran... until he speaks (shame about the cropping and quality here, but still funny):




    Then there's a scene like this which is surreal, wacky and completely charming:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gf74JmBiPto
    (Don't try this at home, kids).
     
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  15. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    A nice little write up of the Dragon lady herself:
    Women Of Character: Peggy Mount
     
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  16. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    My next little Brit stop has begun...

    [​IMG]

    Dear Mother... ...Love Albert is new to me. Rodney Bewes cropped up a number of times in my recently watched Whodunnit? and was usually good value for money, never stuck for an answer or funny aside. And he modelled a series of wacky t-shirts designed to look like waistcoats and ties or whatnot.

    It's an incomplete series - Series One being missing presumed lost. But the three Yorkshire TV series (beginning with Series Two) are lined up ready. So far so good. Bewes aside, the other familiar face is Geraldine Newman - best known to me as dopey Hilda from Ever Decreasing Circles. Her role here is quite different and it took a trip to IMDb to work out how I recognised her.

    The series is enjoyable so far (three episodes in). It feels like it has something to say... or at least something to make it stand out from other sitcoms.

    The theme is great. I'd probably never have guessed that the singer with the sexy voice is Bewes himself.


    By the way, I keep expecting the chorus to segue into Pinball Wizard.
     
  17. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Series Three - actually my second - has seen a change of direction. Gone are the Scottish landlady and her goofy daughter, both of whom I'd grown fond of. In their stead we have a situation which looks uncannily familiar to anyone familiar with Man About The House. Albert has moved in with two gorgeous women who have him cooking and cleaning for them. Hilarity ensues when he tries to keep his fiancée and her mother from discovering them. And other such confused situations. It's interesting that this preceded MATH by a couple of years, as the two were so familiar I can't help feeling one took inspiration from the other. Which could still be the case, of course.

    There's also a hint of The Lovers to Albert's situation with the fiancée and their on/off status. And who could blame Albert for wanting the "off" part. She's spent most of her screentime so far wearing him down or barking orders at him and generally being harpy-like.

    Just when I thought it was wearing a little thing, along comes Raquel, which was practically a one-hander. The roommates were dispensed with in the first few minutes and the fiancée showed up for the last, but other than that it was Albert in soliloquy: chattering to himself about old radio shows; fantasising about Raquel Welch and then phoning The Dorchester to speak to Raquel and get asked over. OK - so the last part required a little suspension of disbelief, but that was no problem.
     
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  18. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Mega Star

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    Blimey, that is great!
     
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  19. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Mercifully I'm on the home stretch of this series, being five episodes into the final series, retitled simply Albert!

    Despite the re-jigged name, there are no major changes to what's seen onscreen. Indeed, a bigger change was between Series Two and Three where Albert moved home, became engaged and interacted with mostly new characters. Even the opening titles remain the same (we are back in colour this series).

    That said, the two female flatmates have moved out (I hadn't missed them, and actually have just had to look this up to be sure). And Albert's fiancée Doreen has been recast, transforming from a plummy-but-shrieky brunette Sloane Ranger to a nasal blonde Cockney. The recast is definitely the lesser of two evils. I'm struggling enough with Series Four without half a dozen more episodes of Doreen Mk I.

    Thankfully, Amelia Bayntun is still Doreen's Mum, Mrs Bissel (and yes - someone has erroneously called her "Mrs Ewbank"). Amelia's a great character actress I know mainly from several Carry Ons (perhaps most notably Joan's Mum, Mrs Fussey in Camping), so it's good to see more of her here. In recent episodes I've noticed her character has a catchphrase of sorts - a tendency to end some of her sentences with "ta", whether it's fitting or not). Incidentally, other Carry On faces over the course of the series have included glamour girls Valerie Van Ost (called simply "Valerie Ost" here), Alexandra Dane and Adrienne Posta. Norman Rossington also had a nice featured role in which he played an old friend of Albert's.

    While I found Series Two and Three enjoyable, Series Four is feeling like a drag. There's very little in it that I've found funny. I'm not sure whether if it's because Albert! is an inferior product to Dear Mother... or it's a case of familiarity breeding contempt. Maybe it's just run a natural course. We've had the obligatory A Christmas Carol episode which felt very much like one of those Carry On Christmas specials (unusually, the Albert! version wasn't set at or aired over Christmas). I'm sorry to report that even a true one-hander in which only the title character appeared felt tedious this time round. I found myself getting irritated with his distracting tendency.... Found myself getting irritated with his distracting tendency... Distracting tendency to repeat... To repeat all or part of a sentence... Sentence for no particular reason.

    And oh my God - the new long hairstyle looks so bad. I mean offensively bad. But not humorously offensively bad. Which for a sitcom is the biggest crime of all. It's been referenced several times. And it wasn't funny then, either.
     
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  20. Mel O'Kalikimaka

    Mel O'Kalikimaka Super Moderator Staff Member

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    With Albert jetting off to exotic locales to randomly live happily ever after with one of the titular characters from Love Thy Neighbour, it's time to move just a little further back in time for...

    [​IMG]

    This is a new series to me, and it's proving very watchable. Part The Good Life; part The Odd Couple and part Bless This House, Two In Clover has a whole lot of feelgood. There's a fair amount of location shooting with the characters on horseback or chasing cows and ducks round. Sid James does his Sid James thing and he does it while sitting backwards on a real horse. Victor Spinetti is a name I'm familiar with but who I don't remember actually watching before, and I'm liking him too. His soft South Wales accent is the perfect contrast to Sid's "Gawd Blimey"ing. Amusingly, there has already been a scene in which Sid impersonated Victor over the phone.

    The tone feels very 1969, and very South East in a way that's difficult to describe. But it's definitely a good thing.
     
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