Saturday, September 10, 2005

Saturday Succintness

Is this the finest geranium I've ever grown?
Is this the shortest blog I've ever posted?
No, I once posted one sentence.
(The variety is 'Simply Red'. Play it Mick Hucknall records to get multiple blooms).


On second thoughts, just time to mention The Green, Green Grass, John Sullivan's spin-off from Only Fools and Horses, which began on BBC1 last night.
Very promising is the fairest verdict. There's so much cutting edge comedy (which often isn't) around these days that we need some good traditional sitcoms. And if they re-unite us with great characters from an earlier, legendary series that's a bonus.

The opening scene was acted at full volume by the two principals, as though they were trying to project their voices to the back of the Upper Circle. I rather liked that. It might be because both actors have been doing theatre work together recently.
There were some great lines in the opening scenes, as you'd expect from John Sullivan. I'm a little uneasy at getting another 'Vicar of Dibley' stereotypical portrayal of country folk, although I have to admit there are a few people in my own village who are as mad as goats and would be rejected for a sitcom as being too unbelievable.

It was directed by Tony Dow who, as an Assistant Stage Manager, gave me my orders when I first worked in the West End theatre. On my first night I almost killed one of the biggest stars of musical theatre. Tony's reprimand over my headphones was astonishingly mild, amounting to not much more than informing me that he'd noticed what I'd done. ASMs are often hated in the theatre but Tony was so mild-mannered yet so totally professional that I never heard a bad word said about him.
For his tolerance of a terrified, novice stage hand who didn't have a clue what he was doing I still owe him one over 30 years later. So, even if The Green, Green Grass turns out to be a turkey , I shall shout from the rooftops that it was brilliantly directed.


At 3:05 PM, Blogger portuguesa nova said...

You know, thanks to the wonder of the giant Netflix mail-DVD-rental catalog, I was on a British sitcom kick a while back and couldn't get into Only Fools and Horses, though I only wathced a handful of first season episodes.

Since then, plenty of Euros have told me that it is the best sitcom ever made.

Do I need to give it another chance, or am I just too American to appreciate it?

At 6:24 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

pn: strange you should say that. When writing that post I was wondering whether 'Only Fools' had been sold to America.
Another very British sitcom, 'Keeping Up Appearances' has, against all expectations, been a huge hit all over the world.
'Only Fools' is probably too rooted in the south London underclass for Americans to easily relate to and there's also all the slang to contend with.
Personally, I can't watch American sitcoms although some, like Friends, are quite popular here.

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Wyndham said...

Strange to think now that the first series of Only Fools was not very popular and was almost canned. I would suggest, if you're going to try out any successful series, you skip the first couple of seasons, in which the dynamic is not quite fully formed, and watch some from a series when it's hit its stride. Then if you like it, got back to the beginning!

At 7:12 PM, Blogger Merkin said...

Willie - I'm shocked. For the first time since your Election Blogs, I find myself less than in complete agreement with you. Admittedly, our cyber-acquaintance is less than 6 months old, but for the first time ever, I also cannot work out how on Earth you arrived at your point of view. PLEASE put me out of my misery and reveal that you only liked the contrived bilge that was Green Green Grass because of your former ASM!

Boycey was VERY annoying (that accent only works in bit parts, not main characters), the characterisation was very lazy (and non-existent in the case of the son), the rural stereotyping was pathetic (Morris Dancing? In a pub at night?), the back plot was also ridiculous, and even the title is a rubbish pun of which only a Sun sub-editor would be proud. "Grass - geddit?".

At least Wyndham will never watch it - the series appears to be so awful it is bound to be cancelled after one outing.

It is written.

At 9:50 PM, Blogger cello said...

9.1 million people watched it with Willie. That's huge these days!

At 8:15 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

merkin, I don't entirely disagree with what you say but that first episode had a lot of scene-setting to do and I think we must give it a chance.
I'm sure I've seen Morris Men dance inside a pub when it was raining. But if we're going to use realism as a criterion for judging comedy, very few are going to survive.
More than a million people deserted Extras after the first episode. I stuck with it but rarely laughed. I laughed at this one several times in the first ten minutes because John Sullivan can write some great lines.
Like David Renwick, Sullivan is very inventive when it comes to plots, so I'm hoping he hasn't lost his touch. My greatest fear is that it will be too much like Vicar of Dibley although that would be good news in terms of ratings.

cello, thanks. I hadn't looked at the overnights. That is truly massive for a first episode. On those figures they could lose a couple of million and still be safe.

And Wyndham, the awful thing is that in today's cut-throat world Only Fools would never have survived to find its feet and become one of the most popular TV shows ever.


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