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 Post subject: Re: Random Thread
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:00 pm 
Avisaru
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Vijay wrote:
We used to have a few British comedies airing on a local channel (courtesy of the BBC and PBS) every Saturday night, but that was it. One was relatively good, a few were kind of silly, and a few others we didn't even bother with.


Can you remember which ones?

Quote:
Outnumbered


Yes, that's fantastic show, really one of the the cream of the Britcom crop (though my parents used to joke that it was actually a documentary).

Quote:
Doc Martin


Ah yes, our great Cornish dialect showcase show! (Seriously that's actually what Cornish English sounds like, just one of the any British Englishes we've kept secret from you all). Only thing is that's not BBC it's ITV which is a separate thing.

Quote:
Masterpiece sometimes, which is probably just too damn long tbh. They kept changing the programming and asking for money.


I've never heard of that, it looks like something that's you only get in the US.

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 Post subject: Re: Random Thread
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:04 pm 
Smeric
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I like Chef!, Keeping Up Appearances and Midsomer Murders, all of whom I was introduced to by NJTV (local version of PBS). My favourite TV series is Yes, Minister, which I watched on Netflix DVDs. I rarely watch shows of any sort though.

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 Post subject: Re: Random Thread
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:17 pm 
Avisaru
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mèþru wrote:
Keeping Up Appearances


Quote:
Yes, Minister


I love those too! I really wish I could watch more of them but I've only so much time and money.

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 Post subject: British Sitcoms
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:35 pm 
Smeric
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Frislander wrote:
Vijay wrote:
We used to have a few British comedies airing on a local channel (courtesy of the BBC and PBS) every Saturday night, but that was it. One was relatively good, a few were kind of silly, and a few others we didn't even bother with.


Can you remember which ones?

For many years, it was always As Time Goes By from 9 PM to 9:30. We ignored it at first because we'd always just see the intro and assume it was some dumb sappy romcom or something. Then at one point, for reasons I can't remember anymore, my dad started watching it and realized it was actually hilarious, in a subtle sort of way. Eventually, he got me to watch it with him, and finally, even my brother started to give it a chance. As Time Goes By is like 90% of the reason why I know Judi Dench even exists (shocking, I know).

Then from 9:30 to 10, it was:
mèþru wrote:
Keeping Up Appearances

which honestly is way sillier than As Time Goes By. :P I used to love it when I was growing up, but I have to admit, my brother and dad were right: It is largely predictable with the same lines repeated over and over. Still funny, though. :) Onslow seems to have been my dad's favorite character. Keeping Up Appearances was taken off at one point, then put back in, then As Time Goes By was taken off, then this was taken off as well, and then it was like what's even the point of watching British comedies on TV anymore (even though KUA probably still is aired every now and then for all I know or care)?

After 10:00, it was always highly variable. Sometimes, they'd air The Vicar of Dibley, which I never watched because no one else in my family really seemed to care for it. Sometimes, they had Are You Being Served? which my dad and brother did like, but I think I've only watched a full episode of it like once?? I'm not sure why I had so much trouble watching that. Who knows. Maybe I kept falling asleep, or someone else kept falling asleep; I think it usually aired here around 10:30. Very rarely, they had Fawlty Towers (also not particularly sophisticated humor, but still, it was hilarious so everybody loved it), usually fairly late, maybe around 11. There was also Goodnight Sweetheart, A Fine Romance, Red Dwarf, and Doctor Who, all of which we ignored. I think my dad tried watching the British version of The Office, but he didn't get it, so we only watched the American version until that started getting WAY too overdramatic. There was The Thin Blue Line, The Peter Principle (or The Boss, as it's known on this side of the pond for some reason), and eventually, Reggie Perrin, Last of the Summer Wine, and After You've Gone, all of which my dad and I loved watching (the only one of these my brother ever got to see AFAIR was The Thin Blue Line). After You've Gone seemed weirdly Americanized to me, at least sometimes. Both Mr. Bean and
Quote:
Chef!

aired very late at night, always past 11:30, so we didn't get to watch them much (especially given that my dad is always, always asleep by 10, and usually sleeps earlier than that) even though we loved those, too. Netflix helped us find a lot more British comedies, including
Quote:
Yes, Minister

which always managed to put me to sleep because it's a whole damn hour long and we always watched it in bed. The same was true of Absolutely Fabulous and possibly Yes, Prime Minister (I may be making up that last one. I don't actually remember whether we rented it or not). Other comedies we watched thanks to Netflix were Father Ted (if that even counts), The Good Life (or Good Neighbors as it's called here; my dad grew up watching this), Monty Python (we also have The Meaning of Life. How could we not see Monty Python?), Blackadder, Jeeves and Wooster, The IT Crowd, and Black Books.
Frislander wrote:
Vijay wrote:
Outnumbered


Yes, that's fantastic show, really one of the the cream of the Britcom crop (though my parents used to joke that it was actually a documentary).

For me, it probably might as well have been a series of half-hour horror movies. :P

I think that's everything I've seen. I might be forgetting some. EDIT: Well, there's one other show starring Judi Dench, but we never watched it, and I don't remember the name anymore. I think it might also have had Moira Brooker in it, but maybe that's just my mind playing tricks on me. I'd recognize the intro immediately if I saw it.
Quote:
Quote:
Doc Martin


Ah yes, our great Cornish dialect showcase show! (Seriously that's actually what Cornish English sounds like, just one of the any British Englishes we've kept secret from you all). Only thing is that's not BBC it's ITV which is a separate thing.

I've honestly never actually seen this show, only knew they broadcast it here. I am kind of aware of the various British Englishes, though. My advisor in grad school was this guy, and I took his seminar on language contact where he mostly talked about English-based creoles. You can't study the history of those creoles without taking all that linguistic variation into account! I still have the course packet from that seminar. It has samples of various British Englishes. I'm not sure it has Teesside English in it, but I am sure it has Geordie because one of the samples is from Sid the Sexist.
Quote:
I've never heard of that, it looks like something that's you only get in the US.

Oh, don't get me wrong; Masterpiece is something we only get in the US! But the programs in it are mostly from the BBC with some coming from ITV and Channel Four. I've never seen any of these, either.


Last edited by Vijay on Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Random Thread
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:49 am 
Avisaru
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Vijay wrote:
Frislander wrote:
Vijay wrote:
We used to have a few British comedies airing on a local channel (courtesy of the BBC and PBS) every Saturday night, but that was it. One was relatively good, a few were kind of silly, and a few others we didn't even bother with.


Can you remember which ones?

For many years, it was always As Time Goes By from 9 PM to 9:30. We ignored it at first because we'd always just see the intro and assume it was some dumb sappy romcom or something. Then at one point, for reasons I can't remember anymore, my dad started watching it and realized it was actually hilarious, in a subtle sort of way. Eventually, he got me to watch it with him, and finally, even my brother started to give it a chance. As Time Goes By is like 90% of the reason why I know Judi Dench even exists (shocking, I know).


That's one I don't know so well, and I've never seen it myself, the only one of the Geoffrey Palmer ones from that era I've seen any of is Butterflies, and even then I'm not sure I find it terribly funny.

Quote:
mèþru wrote:
Keeping Up Appearances

which honestly is way sillier than As Time Goes By. :P I used to love it when I was growing up, but I have to admit, my brother and dad were right: It is largely predictable with the same lines repeated over and over. Still funny, though. :) Onslow seems to have been my dad's favorite character.


Agreed, it is a bit predictable, but yeah, it's really the characters that carry it, as well as the odd little additional touches (like how Hyacinth slips back into a northern accent like her sisters when she's particularly anxious; those things just make the whole so real as well, I can actually believe that someone like her could exist in real life).

Quote:
The Vicar of Dibley, which I never watched because no one else in my family really seemed to care for it.


This one's kind of understandable, the experiences of a Church of England vicar in a rural parish isn't really something that translates well across the pond I don't think, simply because there's no obvious equivalent.

Quote:
Sometimes, they had Are You Being Served? which my dad and brother did like, but I think I've only watched a full episode of it like once?? I'm not sure why I had so much trouble watching that.


Well to be fair that show probably ran for too long, and the format did start to dry up after a while (I mean there's ony so much comedy to be had from one floor of a department store after all), though again the characters really carry it.

Quote:
Fawlty Towers


I'm not surprised that wasn't on often, there's only 12 episodes.

Quote:
There was also Goodnight Sweetheart, A Fine Romance


These I really don't know, there was quite a lot of more minor comedies from that period that I've no idea even exist

Quote:
Red Dwarf


That show's fantastic, how could you miss it? (They're still making new stuff)

Quote:
Doctor Who


That's not really "comedy" per se, even though it did often incorporate comic elements (Tom Baker's quips are just fantastic): indeed for much of it's history it was strictly-speaking a children's programme.

Quote:
I think my dad tried watching the British version of The Office, but he didn't get it, so we only watched the American version until that started getting WAY too overdramatic.


I've not seen it either, nor the American version, and I don't plan to watch either of them, though for different reasons (for the British one it's because I can't stand Ricky Gervais and for the American one I just wouldn't want to see how Americans have mauled a British classic like how Armando Ianucci mangled The Thick of It into Veep.)

Quote:
There was The Thin Blue Line, The Peter Principle (or The Boss, as it's known on this side of the pond for some reason), and eventually, Reggie Perrin, Last of the Summer Wine, and After You've Gone, all of which my dad and I loved watching (the only one of these my brother ever got to see AFAIR was The Thin Blue Line). After You've Gone seemed weirdly Americanized to me, at least sometimes.


Last of the Summer Wine is the only one I've seen any of (I love it to bits though). I've heard of The Thin Blue Line (actually I've no idea why I haven't seen it, seeing how it was written by Ben Elton) and I think possibly Reggie Perrin as well, but again they're all from the era when there was so much Britcom being made that it's hard to keep up now (I only know Last of the Sumer Wine really because they were still making episodes up until 2010 when I was old enough to watch it).

Quote:
Both Mr. Bean and
Quote:
Chef!

aired very late at night, always past 11:30, so we didn't get to watch them much (especially given that my dad is always, always asleep by 10, and usually sleeps earlier than that) even though we loved those, too.


Ah yes, Mr Bean, that's a real classic, so much so that I'm not really sure the films capture the feel. Slight tanget but my mum used to say that it was very popular internationally because of how it required minimal dubbing, it's all carried in the slapstick.

I don't really know Chef! though, which is a shame because Lenny Henry is fantastic, but again it falls into that time period of "too many Britcoms".

Quote:
Quote:
Yes, Minister

which always managed to put me to sleep because it's a whole damn hour long and we always watched it in bed.


I don't blame you, it is a tad dry and highbrow, but still good stuff (and I think the same applies to Yes, Prime Minister as well.

Quote:
The same was true of Absolutely Fabulous


Hm, yeah, I don't entirely get Jennifer Saunder's comedy style either (I've watched scenes from both this and French and Saunders, when she was in a comedy duo with Dawn French, Dibley star, and I have to say it's not entirely my thing, though I've no doubt in her abilites as a comic actress).

Quote:
Other comedies we watched thanks to Netflix were Father Ted (if that even counts)


Yeah, that counts, it may have been made in Ireland by Irish people but it definitely had a British audience in mind, and I also love that to bits (it's a great source of quotes for both my and my parents: I'm particularly fond of "That would be an ecumenical matter!")

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The Good Life (or Good Neighbors as it's called here; my dad grew up watching this),


Yeah, this has a special place in many older British people's hearts for some reason, and I'm not entirely sure I see why.

Quote:
Monty Python (we also have The Meaning of Life. How could we not see Monty Python?)


I don't actually find much of Flying Circus terribly funny, rarely eliciting more than a puzzled chuckle from me, I only really laugh out loud at Holy Grail and Life of Brian.

Quote:
Blackadder


The series after the first are Richard Curtis and Ben Elton at their absolute best with a fantastic cast of British comic actors going from laugh to laugh almost non-stop, but also managing a real emotional punch when needed (the music nerd in me also loves how they kept the same theme with each series but changed the orchestration for the period).

Quote:
Jeeves and Wooster


Hm, I'm not sure I'd count this given that it's based off of P G Wodenhouse books (interestingly my brother went through a phase of reading them avidly and would talk at length about how fantastic they were), but at the same time it's just so well executed, they seem like the roles that Fry & Laurie were born to play, they just fit so well into them (incidentally Hugh Laurie is actualy an alumnus of my Cambridge college, Selwyn, and he actually came and visited a several days before I arrived; Stephen Fry was at Queens a few minutes down the road).

Quote:
The IT Crowd


You know I've heard many great things about this, and Richard Ayoede in particular, but haven't actually watched any of it, strange.

Quote:
Black Books.


I've only recently heard of this one, and I've still no idea what it's like, sounds interesting though.

Notable absences:

Dad's Army: Understandable really, it's really a product of time and place, when memories of the Second World War were still fresh in people's minds and people looked back on that time as one of austerity but also camaraderie and "fending off that nasty Mr Hitler" and all that, and I don't think it would really gel the same way in the US. The same could also perhaps be said for 'Allo 'Allo!.

Little Britain: Not sure why that's not been ported over, probably the sketches with Dafydd Thomas were too risky for an American market (which fair enough, though they're still outrageously funny, you should go chek them out).

Only Fools and Horses: I've no idea why this doesn't seem to work across the pond (apparently they've tried to adapt it for the US, multiple times, but failed miserably, don't know why), maybe it's the stong ongoing stories which add the serious tone? Also no things like Open All Hours (also with David Jason) or Porridge (starring the star of OAH Ronnie Barker), also considered classics.

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 Post subject: Re: Random Thread
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:31 am 
Smeric
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Quote:
The IT Crowd

You know I've heard many great things about this, and Richard Ayoede in particular, but haven't actually watched any of it, strange.

'Ve watched a few episodes and it quickly got boring…

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 Post subject: Re: Random Thread
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:46 am 
Sanno
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Vijay wrote:
As Time Goes By from 9 PM to 9:30. We ignored it at first because we'd always just see the intro and assume it was some dumb sappy romcom or something. Then at one point, for reasons I can't remember anymore, my dad started watching it and realized it was actually hilarious, in a subtle sort of way. Eventually, he got me to watch it with him, and finally, even my brother started to give it a chance. As Time Goes By is like 90% of the reason why I know Judi Dench even exists (shocking, I know).

It's a really good and under-rated sitcom - underrated because its elderly stars and 'gentle' style make it quite unfashionable. It's a great example of what I think is, or was, the distinctive style of British sitcoms from, say, 1975 through to, say, 1995 - in that it's deeply character-based. Many British sitcoms, including this, didn't hire comedians, but instead hired respected 'straight' actors, who are able to give a degree of pathos that you don't normally find in US comedies, and much of the comedy flows out of this grounded, 'realistic' portrayal of a usually tragic situation. [ATGB isn't exactly 'tragic', but it is nostalgic and wistful and filled with small moments of sadness and regret, while overall maintain a cheerful attitude].
And of course, this is the pinnacle of that casting policy. Judi Dench is an amazing actress, and Geoffrey Palmer (though he has done other comedies as well) gives a wonderfully soulful, laconic performance. There's sometimes slapstick and farce and catchphrases and whatnot, but most of the comedy just comes from the fantastic central performances (and the writing that takes advantage of it).

Quote:
Keeping Up Appearances
which honestly is way sillier than As Time Goes By. :P I used to love it when I was growing up, but I have to admit, my brother and dad were right: It is largely predictable with the same lines repeated over and over. Still funny, though. :) Onslow seems to have been my dad's favorite character. Keeping Up Appearances was taken off at one point, then put back in, then As Time Goes By was taken off, then this was taken off as well, and then it was like what's even the point of watching British comedies on TV anymore (even though KUA probably still is aired every now and then for all I know or care)?

I really liked KUA as a child... but I think that's the right age for it. It relies heavily on catchphrases and over-the-top slapstick, and is very repetitive. Even then, though, the performances are good - so much of the humour comes not from the zany side, but from Onslow and Richard as the straight men.
Quote:
After 10:00, it was always highly variable. Sometimes, they'd air The Vicar of Dibley, which I never watched because no one else in my family really seemed to care for it.

It's more highbrow than KUA, but less highbrow than ATGB. I liked it, but I used to think of it as something mildly amusing, rather than must-watch TV. Even today, it's something I wouldn't mind having on in a room if someone else were watching it, but wouldn't bother to watch myself - it's got some funny bits, but it's not really magnetic.
Quote:
Sometimes, they had Are You Being Served? which my dad and brother did like, but I think I've only watched a full episode of it like once?? I'm not sure why I had so much trouble watching that. Who knows. Maybe I kept falling asleep, or someone else kept falling asleep; I think it usually aired here around 10:30.

Oh gods. It's good to know that shows like this (and It Ain't Half Hot Mum, and Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em and Hi-di-Hi and so on) used to exist, because they explain why adults could find Keeping Up Appearances both hilarious and intellectual by comparison. That really was the dark end of the Dark Ages of comedy...
Quote:
Very rarely, they had Fawlty Towers (also not particularly sophisticated humor, but still, it was hilarious so everybody loved it), usually fairly late, maybe around 11.

Fawlty Towers is genuinely hilarious, and although there's a lot of blunt slapstick it's also smarter than people remember, with plenty of wordplay, satire, and cunning farce. Unfortunately, there aren't many episodes, and everyone knows them all, so they're overexposed and it's easy to forget how good they are if you don't already know all the lines.
[example: everyone remembers the Don't Mention the War bit, for the catchphrase and the silly walk. But the same bit also contains lines like:
GERMAN: Will you stop talking about the war?
BASIL: Me? You started it!
GERMAN: We did NOT start it!
BASIL: Yes you did, you invaded Poland!]

Quote:
There was also Goodnight Sweetheart,

Saw a bit of that. Iirc it's more of a comedy drama? I always like Nicholas Lyndhurst (the star), and kind of liked the show, but not enough to remember anything about it other than the premise.
Quote:
A Fine Romance,

The other Judi Dench thing? Never saw it. There were a huge number of those things in that era, from the better things like To the Manor Born down to the lower-brow things like Corbett's "Sorry!" (which somehow ran for 7 years, apparently?). Most of them didn't get many repeats.
Quote:
Red Dwarf

the #1 series of my childhood. It takes that verismo style and puts it in a sitcom, and it's just so, so brilliant. Again, at its best it works as a nightmarish short play about people trapped in hell, which also happens to have jokes. The first two seasons are intentionally dour, claustrophobic sitcom; series 3 to 6 bring in more action and adventure. Series 7 has one good episode, one other good scene, and is otherwise poor. Series 8 is an abomination unto the Lord. Series 9 is apparently much worse than that, but I've never managed to watch it. Series 10 through 12 (which is concluding this week) are like a tribute band - an imitation that's just not the same, but still at times good in its own right. It's worth watching out of nostalgia and for the good bits, but it's quite hit and miss (though you could scrape together a decent season out of the best episodes in all three series).
Series 1 is still working things out, and the best are series 4 and 5, but the first six series are all must-watch TV, in my opinion (certainly 2-6).

In terms of style, it combines brilliant character work (a highlight is S3's "Marooned", which plays out almost entirely as a two-hander for the two central characters starving/freezing to death in a crashed spaceship, talking about their lives), brilliant verbal comedy, brilliant plotting, and the occasional visual gag. It's so endlessly quotable.
Quote:
I think my dad tried watching the British version of The Office, but he didn't get it, so we only watched the American version until that started getting WAY too overdramatic.

Can't stand it myself, though I recognise the value. I struggle with that sort of cringe comedy.
Quote:
There was The Thin Blue Line

Kind of a resuscitation of the old campy style of British comedy - but done quite well. Again, it's a show where some really mediocre writing and predictable comedy is elevated greatly by two genuinely genius actors (Rowan Atkinson as the idiot, and the criminally overlooked David Haig (Olivier-winning serious stage actor*) as the straightman. But I doubt I'd be too impressed by it as an adult in 2017.
Quote:
, The Peter Principle (or The Boss, as it's known on this side of the pond for some reason),

Never heard of it. Though v.s. re: great straight actors (here, Jim Broadbent).
This show falls into a period of time where things are too recent to be endlessly-repeated "classics", but too old and dated to be new and fresh.
The comedy I watched around that time was Next of Kin. I should rewatch that some time. It clearly has fans - it's got an 8.5 on IMDB - but it's never repeated and you never hear about it (that 8.5 comes from only 100 ratings, as opposed to ATGB's 8.3 from 3,005 ratings). It's about an out-of-touch, old-fashioned married couple about to retire to the south of france, when suddenly their child dies horribly in a car crash, and they're forced to become the guardians of their three traumatised young grandchildren.
[*reads that back.* Yup, that's a Traditional British Sitcom all right!]
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and eventually, Reggie Perrin

Incredibly cliché, but unusual for its era in being intentionally, ironically cliché in a postmodern fashion. The first episode is certainly worth watching as a little miniature study in why modern life is Hell; the rest of the first season is less tight, but still has virtues. I wouldn't bother with it after that, or with the more recent revived series, or with the even more recent remake.
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, Last of the Summer Wine,

I watched it every week as a child; but ye gods a lot of it was shit. How many times can an elderly person roll down a hill going 'woah!' and collide with something amusing and still actually be funny? Now, I've since gathered that the early series were actually quite good... but then there were 37 years (295 episodes) of going downhill (no pun intended).
Quote:
and After You've Gone... After You've Gone seemed weirdly Americanized to me, at least sometimes.

Never heard of it. I've long ago lost track of most modern sitcoms - probably My Family was the last I paid attention to. [My Family isn't as bad as people say it is - or it wasn't, but again, 11 series was far, far too many. And come on, even if you don't like the comedy - it's a show starring Robert Lindsay and Zoe Wanamaker!] But anyway, if it seems Americanised i wouldn't be surprised - it's not 1990 anymore, and the distinctiveness of British comedy has certainly been eroded over time. At least, the distinctiveness of good British comedy. Obviously, atrocities like Mrs Brown's Boys do represent an authentic strain of British sitcom all the way back to the days of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em and the like. It's just a strain that ought to be killed with the infernal fury of a nuclear firestorm, unfortunately.
Quote:
Mr. Bean

Worth watching a few episodes, particularly as a child. But although it's his most famous export, it's Atkinson criminally underusing his comic talents.
Quote:
Quote:
Chef!


Chef! I remember Chef! I don't remember anything about it, though. Anything with Lenny Henry can't be entirely bad, I guess.
Quote:
Quote:
Yes, Minister

which always managed to put me to sleep because it's a whole damn hour long and we always watched it in bed.

Actually, it's only 30 minutes - it just seems like an hour, perhaps. But it and Yes Prime Minister are genius, and continue to be of lasting utility in understanding modern politics.
Quote:
The same was true of Absolutely Fabulous

Didn't appeal to me.
Quote:
Other comedies we watched thanks to Netflix were Father Ted (if that even counts)

Oh yes, it certainly counts as a comedy - it's not really a documentary, though it's closer to it than you might think. My grandparents hated it for its mockery of Ireland and the Church... but in many ways it's really accurate.
Quote:
The Good Life (or Good Neighbors as it's called here; my dad grew up watching this)

Along with As Time Goes By, the pinnacle of that style of cosy, 'gentle' sitcom.
Quote:
, Monty Python

So overrated that it's underrated. (everyone thinks 'oh, Monty Python, so overrated', and indeed a lot of the sketches are mediocre, but that conceals the fact that there were genuinely great bits too). But it's sketch, so a different genre from the sitcoms.
Quote:
Blackadder

Brilliant, though unfortunately I know almost every line by heart by now.
Quote:

, Jeeves and Wooster

Yay! It's not a crowdpleaser - too much farce for the highbrow, too much witty 1920s period stuff for the lowbrow - but the early seasons of J&W are excellent narrative comedy. And Fry and Laurie are just perfect in it - not only were they born for those roles, but it seems like the roles were written just for them.
Quote:
, The IT Crowd, and Black Books.

I must get into those some day - I've liked bits I've seen, but never sat down and watched them.
Quote:
Frislander wrote:
Vijay wrote:
Outnumbered


Never watched it, so I'll contain my grumpy-old-man skepticism. And I do love Hugh Dennis.[quote]


If you want British sitcomes, of which there are hundreds, there are a few of the big ones that you haven't mentioned yet.

From the Dark Ages, the classic is Dad's Army. It helps if you're under 10 or over 70. I actually have really fond memories of it. You kind of have to accept that most of it isn't very funny - it was in an era when they tried to make everything appeal to everybody, so while there are some genuinely funny lines and characterisation and clever plotting, there's also a lot of terrible (I mean not just crass, but lazy) slapstick and catchphrases and really obvious stuff that the studio audience laugh uproariously at, and you kind of have to endure through all that for the good moments. Kind of a cultural touchstone, though. (your name vill ALSO go on zee list!). 'Allo 'allo is the sillier younger sibling, about the French Resistence and the Holocaust and so on - it's too silly and ridiculous for me, though it does have some good moment.

There was also, at the darker side of things, Till Death Us Do Part (about an outspoken racist), and Steptoe and Son about rag-and-bone men. You don't hear much about them these days, but they used to be iconic.

From the era of Gentle Sitcoms, we've already mentioned The Good Life (near the beginning of the era) and As Time Goes By (at the end), but the big one you're missing is Porridge (1973-1977). It's about Ronnie Barker as a career criminal serving a five-year jail term. It's very good. It probably is too old to appeal to most young people today, but it's sharp and clever, an if you like old British comedies it's one of, if not the, best.

Later on, there's also One Foot in the Grave, about an old man, "Victor Meldrew", being irritated by things. It's another of those shows that was actually good once, with a pleasantly dark edge (like the bitter, going-slightly-mad sibling to As Time Goes By), but that is dismissed in the popular imagination due to carrying on for six years with increasing silliness and increasing reliance on a catchphrase. ["I... don't... be-LIEVE it!", he says. Hilarious. You may have seen the Father Ted episode where Father Ted says "I... don't... be-LIEVE it!" to its star...]

From a similar (slightly earlier) era but a later style, there's Drop the Dead Donkey, a satirical sitcom set in a newsroom (much of it written in the week of broadcast). The topical jokes are obviously a bit obscure now (but in another sense, timeless!) but it's a masterpiece of character-based, very smart (usually) comedy. The first season is still working out how it's meant to work, and the last couple, returns after a hiatus, are a tired rehash with only occasional value, but S2-4 are brilliant, even today. [to be fair, I can't really remember how good 5 is]

Oh, and Men Behaving Badly! That's the other thing I watched as a kid. It's like a parodically inversion of those gentle sitcoms - it has many of the same tropes, but it's about two horny, drunk, disgusting bachelors and their longsuffering girlfriends (well, one longsuffering girlfriend, one unattainable object of desire). It's not of the quality of something like DTDD, but it's better than you might think - it's a sort of middle path between the staid sitcoms and the rebellious, zany stuff like The Young Ones and Bottom - it has sex and drink and drugs, but it also has genuine pathos and wit.

And the most obvious exclusion: Only Fools and Horses. Again, don't judge it on the ill-considered christmas specials long, long after its prime. OFAH was never the best in any particular respect, but it's probably the most succesfull middlebrow comedy: a bit broad, a bit clever, a bit racy, a bit staid. And some brilliant moments, though sadly spoiled by overshowing.

Later still, dinnerladies and The Royle Family had massive followings, though I never saw much of them; Spaced, meanwhile, was a cult phenomenon.


FWIW, the BBC did a "Britain's Best Sitcom" poll in 2004. 100-to-10 here. There's not a lot out of the top 50 that's worth knowing about if you're under 60, I don't think, except Spaced (#66) and Black Books (#58) and arguably The New Statesman (#61), which is a ridiculously over-the-top, Rik-Mayall-starring parody of House of Cards and Yes, Minister, about an evil Tory MP, Alan B'stard. I didn't like it that much, but some love it.
If you like silly slapstick with a side of pathetic pathos, The Brittas Empire (#47) (about an inept leisure centre manager) is near the top of that game, although I suspect it's not aged too well. 2.4 Children was the popular thin in the 90s. Oh, I'm Alan Partridge (#42)! A classic, but not for everybody. Likewise, The League of Gentlemen is a cult classic (#41), though that's as much sketch as sitcom, I think. I watched so much Birds of a Feather (#38) as a kid - a sitcom about working-class women, with more than a hint of soap opera to it. Perrin, Thin Blue Line, Young Ones, dinnerladies, ATGB, My Family, The Office, Drop the Dead Donkey, etc, are all in the 40-to-20 range.

Their top 20 are:
Are You Being Served?
The Royle Family
Red Dwarf
Absolutely Fabulous
Men Behaving Badly
Steptoe and Son
Last of the Summer Wine
'Allo 'Allo!
Keeping Up Appearances
Father Ted
One Foot in the Grave
The Good Life
Open All Hours (seriously? ugh.)
Porridge
Yes, Minister
Fawlty Towers
Dad's Army
The Vicar of Dibley
Blackadder
and, #1, Only Fools and Horses.

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 Post subject: Re: Random Thread
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:19 pm 
Sanno
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I'm impressed a Young Person These Days knows so many old comedies... (I'm too young to legitimately know a lot of these series...)

Frislander wrote:
That's one I don't know so well, and I've never seen it myself, the only one of the Geoffrey Palmer ones from that era I've seen any of is Butterflies, and even then I'm not sure I find it terribly funny.

ATGB is much better than Butterflies (so far as I can tell; I've seen very little Butterflies, and I agree that it's not that funny). It's worth watching, though I wouldn't put it near the pinnacle of comedy.
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The Vicar of Dibley, which I never watched because no one else in my family really seemed to care for it.


This one's kind of understandable, the experiences of a Church of England vicar in a rural parish isn't really something that translates well across the pond I don't think, simply because there's no obvious equivalent.

Even leaving aside the vicar, it's very English - a little collection of caricatures of English Rural Folk, which probably doesn't translate too well anywhere else.
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Last of the Summer Wine is the only one I've seen any of (I love it to bits though). I've heard of The Thin Blue Line (actually I've no idea why I haven't seen it, seeing how it was written by Ben Elton) and I think possibly Reggie Perrin as well, but again they're all from the era when there was so much Britcom being made that it's hard to keep up now (I only know Last of the Sumer Wine really because they were still making episodes up until 2010 when I was old enough to watch it).

Thin Blue Line might be worth checking out if you like that stuff. You're obviously not averse to the camp/slapstick elements, and like Ben Elton, so you might well like it. Don't expect genius, though - it was always an "oh, that's quite funny!" show, rather than a must-watch.
I'd recommend everyone watch at least the first episode of Perrin, and I liked the whole first season. It's at least... different. Particularly for something of that era.
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I don't really know Chef! though, which is a shame because Lenny Henry is fantastic, but again it falls into that time period of "too many Britcoms".

Exactly. So, so many sitcoms. Chef! ran 93-96, and has an IMDB score of 8.2... but not many ratings, and doesn't even hit the top 100 in that poll I posted. I remember it being pretty good, but not that memorable, and it just got drowned in the popular imagination in the wave of so, so many things.
Like, apparently (IMDB) people who liked Chef! also liked The Thin Blue Line and As Time Goes By, but also The Detectives, Waiting for God, and Grace and Favour. The Detectives (Jasper Carrott comedy police sitcom) I liked, but it was never that great - except for one fantastic (in my memory, at least) episode where they are challenged to name all the second words appearing in the names of football league teams (so, United, City, Athletic, etc), and hence spend the episode investigating a grisly murder while occasionally shouting out obscure football teams they are reminded of by the case ("we believe the murderer then escaped through the Nottingham Forest!... sorry, sorry" and the like). ...maybe you had to be there. Waiting for God I have heard the name of but know nothing about; Grace and Favour I have literally never heard of before...

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Hm, yeah, I don't entirely get Jennifer Saunder's comedy style either (I've watched scenes from both this and French and Saunders, when she was in a comedy duo with Dawn French, Dibley star, and I have to say it's not entirely my thing, though I've no doubt in her abilites as a comic actress).

I agree; I like French, but I just don't get Saunders.
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Other comedies we watched thanks to Netflix were Father Ted (if that even counts)


Yeah, that counts, it may have been made in Ireland by Irish people but it definitely had a British audience in mind, and I also love that to bits (it's a great source of quotes for both my and my parents: I'm particularly fond of "That would be an ecumenical matter!")

That is indeed one of the greatest of all quotes, and one I actually use in real life. Also, "small... far away", "so I hear you're a racist now, Father?" and, of course, the incredibly useful "Down with this sort of thing / Careful now!"
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The Good Life (or Good Neighbors as it's called here; my dad grew up watching this),


Yeah, this has a special place in many older British people's hearts for some reason, and I'm not entirely sure I see why.

To be honest, 50% of the appeal is probably Felicity Kendal being one of the sexiest/cutest women of all time, and the fact that in that show she spent a lot of time wearing tight trousers and loose shirts without a bra (and generally acting like a Modern Woman in an era where wearing trousers and being sassy (but cute, and adoring her husband) was still something exciting and new). Penelope Keith had plenty of admirers too, in her more matronly way, and apparently the two male leads were popular with female viewers in their day. But even leaving aside that bit where Felicity Kendal has an adorable coal smudge on her nose and a playful expression, it's quite a clever comedy, as I recall. I should watch some of it...
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they seem like the roles that Fry & Laurie were born to play

To the extent that both of us (who have I suspect come to know Fry and Laurie in rather different guises - I knew them first from A Bit of Fry and Laurie, I think) independently said just that...
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You know I've heard many great things about this, and Richard Ayoede in particular, but haven't actually watched any of it, strange.

Have you seen any of the new Crystal Maze? The appeal fades after one or two episodes, but it's worth watching just for Ayoade.
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Black Books.


I've only recently heard of this one, and I've still no idea what it's like, sounds interesting though.

Bill Bailey and Dylan Moran, with Tamsin Greig, and written by Graham "Father Ted" Linehan. It's not as good as Father Ted, but from what I've seen it's worth a watch. Cult following.
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Little Britain: Not sure why that's not been ported over, probably the sketches with Dafydd Thomas were too risky for an American market (which fair enough, though they're still outrageously funny, you should go chek them out).

I despise Little Britain. But in any case, British sketch comedy is it's own thing. (likewise with python, of course).
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Also no things like Open All Hours (also with David Jason) or Porridge (starring the star of OAH Ronnie Barker), also considered classics.
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Porridge deserves to be; Open All Hours somehow manages to take Ronnie Barker and David Jason and still not be funny. I can appreciate the pathos side, but the humour is too end-of-pier for me, I'm afraid.

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 Post subject: Re: Random Thread
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:02 pm 
Sanno
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Salmoneus wrote:
I really liked KUA as a child... but I think that's the right age for it. It relies heavily on catchphrases and over-the-top slapstick, and is very repetitive. Even then, though, the performances are good - so much of the humour comes not from the zany side, but from Onslow and Richard as the straight men.

Oh god, my ex has a big hardon for this show. I think because it reminded him of the fate he escaped (he divorced his wife of many years shortly after we met). I think it only takes a few episodes to show you all you need to see of Hyacinth Bucket.

Salmoneus wrote:
Oh gods. It's good to know that shows like this (and It Ain't Half Hot Mum, and Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em and Hi-di-Hi and so on) used to exist, because they explain why adults could find Keeping Up Appearances both hilarious and intellectual by comparison. That really was the dark end of the Dark Ages of comedy...

I honestly cannot understand why so many people I know who seem to have decent taste otherwise enjoy this show. It inflected PBS stations in this country like herpes. I'm not sure if it's been eradicated even today.

Salmoneus wrote:
Chef! I remember Chef! I don't remember anything about it, though. Anything with Lenny Henry can't be entirely bad, I guess.

You probably don't remember it because it was a pretty standard-run sitcom. Henry plays his character pretty straight, which is not really what you watch Henry for.

Salmoneus wrote:
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Other comedies we watched thanks to Netflix were Father Ted (if that even counts)

Oh yes, it certainly counts as a comedy - it's not really a documentary, though it's closer to it than you might think. My grandparents hated it for its mockery of Ireland and the Church... but in many ways it's really accurate.

Even as someone raised Catholic I never got the appeal. The characters were so one-dimensional and none of the laugh lines seemed to land. I honestly had trouble believing this was the work of the same genius who did Black Books (which I have to thank for introducing me to two extraordinary comedians--no shame to Greig that she's not equally gifted at stand-up) and The IT Crowd.

Sal, did you ever watch Never Mind the Buzzcocks? Ayoade did an absolutely brilliant job of guest-hosting. It was all one deadpan piss-take without so much as a hint of a nod or wink. Of course, you have to have seen how the show regularly functions to really appreciate what he's doing.

I'm surprised to see no one mention The Mighty Boosh. Maybe it gets filed away mentally in the space reserved for sketch comedy double acts despite the fact that it retains the pretense of a sitcom structure even while the comedy is wildly absurdist.


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 Post subject: Re: Random Thread
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:05 pm 
Smeric
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Really? Henry seemed to be the only non-straight man in some episodes.

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 Post subject: Re: Random Thread
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 5:28 pm 
Avisaru
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Salmoneus wrote:
Waiting for God


Yeah, you're not missing much, but basically think One Foot in the Grave set in an old people's home we a shit ton more cynicism (if that's even possible).

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That is indeed one of the greatest of all quotes, and one I actually use in real life. Also, "small... far away", "so I hear you're a racist now, Father?" and, of course, the incredibly useful "Down with this sort of thing / Careful now!"


I've discovered just now that Facebook Messenger doesn't have the gif of that and I'm just shocked.

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I despise Little Britain. But in any case, British sketch comedy is it's own thing. (likewise with python, of course).


And I can totally understand, I only really laugh at the Dafydd Thomas sketches, and even then only in the "so shockingly dirty you can't help but chuckle uncomfortably" sort of way.

Salmoneus wrote:
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Monty Python

So overrated that it's underrated. (everyone thinks 'oh, Monty Python, so overrated', and indeed a lot of the sketches are mediocre, but that conceals the fact that there were genuinely great bits too). But it's sketch, so a different genre from the sitcoms.


Yeah, that's kind of my view too, I'm not saying there isn't genuinely funny stuff in there (like if you don;t laugh at The Lumberjack Song there's something wrong with you) but most of it's just so weird and left-field that I just don't get it.

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 Post subject: Re: Random Thread
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:14 pm 
Smeric
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Frislander wrote:
Hyacinth slips back into a northern accent like her sisters when she's particularly anxious

I didn't know that! That shows you how familiar I am with Northern accents.
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I can actually believe that someone like her could exist in real life

There's a Malayalee lady who used to live in our neighborhood who I've always privately called "Hyacinth." I used to talk about her in those terms with my favorite cousin all the time.
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The Vicar of Dibley, which I never watched because no one else in my family really seemed to care for it.


This one's kind of understandable, the experiences of a Church of England vicar in a rural parish isn't really something that translates well across the pond I don't think, simply because there's no obvious equivalent.

To be honest, I think my family's motivation for not watching this one was sexism more than anything else. You see, I've almost never watched TV all by myself; for me, watching anything on a television screen is more of a family or at least group activity. My brother and dad seemed to feel that The Vicar of Dibley was too girly for their tastes or something, so then of course we couldn't watch it. I did watch it a few times at *ahem* "Hyacinth's" house, thanks to one of her daughters, but only when there were other noisy kids around, so I couldn't pay that much attention to it. By contrast, we loved watching Bless Me, Father (there are other ones I've seen but that I'm forgetting!) and saw it (and The Thin Blue Line and the entirety of As Time Goes By) both as British comedies on TV (occasionally) and via Netflix.
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I'm not surprised that wasn't on often, there's only 12 episodes.

That's a good point. But it should've been on more often anyway! :? :P
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Red Dwarf


That show's fantastic, how could you miss it? (They're still making new stuff)

Probably family biases again. My dad and brother hate sci-fi. I'm also not really into action movies.
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That's not really "comedy" per se

True, sorry, that wasn't really a comedy but rather just another one of those shows they aired, much like Doc Martin.
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I've not seen it either, nor the American version, and I don't plan to watch either of them, though for different reasons (for the British one it's because I can't stand Ricky Gervais and for the American one I just wouldn't want to see how Americans have mauled a British classic like how Armando Ianucci mangled The Thick of It into Veep.)

Hahahaha, tbh, I don't think you'd be missing anything. :P
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I've heard of The Thin Blue Line (actually I've no idea why I haven't seen it, seeing how it was written by Ben Elton)

I like it. It's one of the few British comedies my dad and brother like to quote from.
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Ah yes, Mr Bean, that's a real classic, so much so that I'm not really sure the films capture the feel. Slight tanget but my mum used to say that it was very popular internationally because of how it required minimal dubbing, it's all carried in the slapstick.

Yeah, there are too many spinoffs of that show IMO. The TV series was good, though. One of my cousins hates it, though, because he really likes seeing Rowan Atkinson actually talking.
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I don't really know Chef! though, which is a shame because Lenny Henry is fantastic, but again it falls into that time period of "too many Britcoms".

Chef! can honestly drag on sometimes, but it's mostly pretty good from what I (now only vaguely) remember. There must be episodes up on YouTube or something. There just have to be.
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I don't blame you, it is a tad dry and highbrow, but still good stuff (and I think the same applies to Yes, Prime Minister as well.

Honestly, I should probably just try watching it while sitting up. It's probably up on YouTube, too. :P (Well, or if not, I can dream, can't I?).
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The Good Life (or Good Neighbors as it's called here; my dad grew up watching this),


Yeah, this has a special place in many older British people's hearts for some reason, and I'm not entirely sure I see why.

Dying style of comedy, maybe?
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I don't actually find much of Flying Circus terribly funny, rarely eliciting more than a puzzled chuckle from me, I only really laugh out loud at Holy Grail and Life of Brian.

Oh, yeah, I don't find a lot of Monty Python as funny as I used to, either, and some of it...is just too silly to be funny. Or too disgusting. IMO.
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Blackadder


The series after the first are Richard Curtis and Ben Elton at their absolute best with a fantastic cast of British comic actors going from laugh to laugh almost non-stop, but also managing a real emotional punch when needed (the music nerd in me also loves how they kept the same theme with each series but changed the orchestration for the period).

Yeah, my dad seemed to like the third series the best, with the fourth series being a close second. I liked all three of the ones after the first. The first was...meh.
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Hm, I'm not sure I'd count this given that it's based off of P G Wodenhouse books (interestingly my brother went through a phase of reading them avidly and would talk at length about how fantastic they were)

When my dad was growing up in India, he went to an English-medium school, but his older sister went to a Malayalam-medium school because English-medium schools had not yet become very widespread or popular in Kerala. Each of them fell in love with literature in the opposite language and have been partial to it ever since. My aunt is a big fan of P. G. Wodehouse, and my dad grew up seeing her reading them and laughing her ass off and was always so puzzled about what was so fucking funny. He likes Jeeves and Wooster a lot, though. :P Also, to be fair, my aunt would probably be at least as puzzled at my dad laughing his ass off while reading VKN (a Malayalee humorist), especially given his often sexist humor.
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The IT Crowd


You know I've heard many great things about this, and Richard Ayoede in particular, but haven't actually watched any of it, strange.

It's honestly not that great and is very short (only 24 episodes!).
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Black Books.


I've only recently heard of this one, and I've still no idea what it's like, sounds interesting though.

It's pretty good, but I kept falling asleep to this one as well. :P
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Little Britain: Not sure why that's not been ported over, probably the sketches with Dafydd Thomas were too risky for an American market (which fair enough, though they're still outrageously funny, you should go chek them out).

I actually did try watching one or two episodes of this on Netflix online once, but now I can't seem to remember anything about it. Maybe I never ended up actually watching a whole episode. Mph.
Salmoneus wrote:
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Very rarely, they had Fawlty Towers (also not particularly sophisticated humor, but still, it was hilarious so everybody loved it), usually fairly late, maybe around 11.

Fawlty Towers is genuinely hilarious, and although there's a lot of blunt slapstick it's also smarter than people remember, with plenty of wordplay, satire, and cunning farce.

I know; it just doesn't really have the kind of subtle humor ATGB did, or at least not as much of it. But this satire and such is why the Waldorf Salad episode is a favorite in my family. "What is it with you Americans and bottoms?" might be my dad's favorite line ever. Ironically, he always forgets what exactly a Waldorf salad is. ("IT'S CELERY, APPLES, WALNUTS, GRAPES! AND MAYONNAISE!"). The part at the very end where Basil checks into his own hotel and presents Sybil with a long list of demands might be my favorite. I'm not sure. (And of course I remember the part about starting the war!).
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There was also Goodnight Sweetheart,

Saw a bit of that. Iirc it's more of a comedy drama? I always like Nicholas Lyndhurst (the star), and kind of liked the show, but not enough to remember anything about it other than the premise.

It probably is. All I know is the theme song is four lines that begin with "goodnight, sweetheart." :P
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A Fine Romance,

The other Judi Dench thing? Never saw it.

Or at least one other Judi Dench thing. All I remember of that is also the theme song.
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I've long ago lost track of most modern sitcoms - probably My Family was the last I paid attention to.

There we go, yet another comedy I completely forgot about that was also aired on TV! This is what they had on just before they basically replaced it with Outnumbered followed by After You've Gone. (Then later, it was Outnumbered followed by Reggie Perrin. Now, I think they just have Doc Martin on every Saturday, so I don't bother anymore). At least, I think that's how it happened. It's always hard to remember because they changed the programming so many fucking times. After You've Gone was definitely a show that came off to me as more Americanized than My Family.
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Mr. Bean

Worth watching a few episodes, particularly as a child. But although it's his most famous export, it's Atkinson criminally underusing his comic talents.

There you go, that's exactly what my cousin was saying.
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Yes, Minister

which always managed to put me to sleep because it's a whole damn hour long and we always watched it in bed.

Actually, it's only 30 minutes - it just seems like an hour, perhaps. But it and Yes Prime Minister are genius, and continue to be of lasting utility in understanding modern politics.

Oh no, you know why I thought it was an hour? Because we always watched two episodes at a time, and I kept falling asleep within 15 minutes of the second episode. I may have been awake through the first episode each time, but I don't think I had any clue wtf was going on. I probably wasn't sleeping too well at the time, either.
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Other comedies we watched thanks to Netflix were Father Ted (if that even counts)

Oh yes, it certainly counts as a comedy

Oh, I know. I meant I wasn't sure if it counts as British! But I guess Frislander cleared that up for me.
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it's not really a documentary, though it's closer to it than you might think. My grandparents hated it for its mockery of Ireland and the Church... but in many ways it's really accurate.

Hm. Too bad it's been ages since I've seen any of these, though.
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The Good Life (or Good Neighbors as it's called here; my dad grew up watching this)

Along with As Time Goes By, the pinnacle of that style of cosy, 'gentle' sitcom.

Less subtle humor than ATGB, though, if I'm remembering correctly. Also, unfortunately, we never got to see the whole thing, because fucking Netflix would only release certain seasons, even on DVD.

Oh, and another series I keep forgetting to mention that isn't actually a comedy but is definitely British: All Creatures Great and Small! My dad was a farm boy, so he loved this show. I tried to get into it, too, but there's no way I could possibly relate to it on his level. I think he told me something about how since it's actually a fictionalized version of the main character's autobiography, his wife was upset with the actress who played her in that series and said something like "I object to my role being played by such a tart." Then one day, my dad was making...his version of Chinese food accompanied by some dinner rolls, then cut some tangerines or something that he meant to share with me, but he said they were sour, so (I believe) I said something like "I object to my rolls being played by such tart oranges." He thought that was hilarious.
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There was also, at the darker side of things, Till Death Us Do Part (about an outspoken racist), and Steptoe and Son about rag-and-bone men. You don't hear much about them these days, but they used to be iconic.

I definitely found Till Death Us Do Part on Netflix once, I think because I like All in the Family (another series Netflix doesn't have in its entirety!). I'm not sure whether I've heard of Steptoe and Son or not (probably), but I do remember that in Asterix and the Great Crossing, one of the Vikings' names is Steptoanssen.
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You may have seen the Father Ted episode where Father Ted says "I... don't... be-LIEVE it!" to its star...

I think I've forgotten almost everything about Father Ted now. :(


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 Post subject: Re: Random Thread
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:45 pm 
Smeric
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Quote:
Mr. Bean

Worth watching a few episodes, particularly as a child. But although it's his most famous export, it's Atkinson criminally underusing his comic talents.

I hate this show. There is something in it that makes my brain crawl backwards.

On the other hand, Blackadder is good.

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 Post subject: Re: Random Thread
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:11 am 
Smeric
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On the British comedy front: the only ones of those mentioned that I watched regularily on TV were Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister (dubbed into German, unfortunately) and Monty Python, which was on constant re-run on several German channels during my peak TV period (late 80s / early 90s), astonishingly quite often in English with subtitles, which is unusual on German TV. Then there was that pinnacle of British humour, Benny Hill, which ran on early evening TV when I was a teen. Later, I often watched Mr. Bean, which was a staple on TV and in-flight programs in many countries where I worked in the late 90s / early noughties (as was Benny Hill - wordless slapstick seems to travel well). Two more shows I remember are Rumpole of Old Bailey and the Avengers (billed in Germany as Mit Schirm, Charme und Melone - "With umbrella, charm, and bowler hat"; this is all you need to know to about German prowess at ruining show and film titles by stupid translation). You might not regard them as comedy shows, but their quaint Britishness and the fact that they contained more humour than 90% of what was called comedy on German TV at that time made lots of Germans watch them as comedies.


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 Post subject: Re: Random Thread
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:08 pm 
Smeric
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Y'all, I forgot about Waiting for God, too! I liked that as well but probably only because of Diana. Everybody else in it kind of seems to be an annoyingly static character. I have a Benny Hill video at home (on VHS; I also have Monty Python and the The Meaning of Life on VHS) but never got around to watching it.

EDIT: Oh, and of course, trust me to forget to say something like this: I watched a couple of episodes of Yes, Minister last night. It reminds me of The Death of Yugoslavia. There was so much diplomatic drama behind all that war and genocide!


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 Post subject: Re: British Sitcoms
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:00 pm 
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Sal wrote:
I really liked KUA as a child... but I think that's the right age for it. It relies heavily on catchphrases and over-the-top slapstick, and is very repetitive. Even then, though, the performances are good - so much of the humour comes not from the zany side, but from Onslow and Richard as the straight men.
Thats the only one on this page Im familiar with. Me and a classmate in high school both used to watch it. I didnt even realize it was a British sitcom; I'm an American and I assumed that it was an American show about Britian, with Hyacinth as the sort of stereotypical "really Im high soceity" British person who's funny just by her mere existence. I wouldnt have picked up on the different accents, though I did notice here and there some British expressions like "electrics" for ... umm ... I dont think we have a word for that in American English, do we? I just think of them as electrics now, though Ive never had to say it out loud.

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 Post subject: Re: British Sitcoms
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:18 pm 
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My god, this thread is a total trip down memory lane for me. I remember most of the British sitcoms of the 80s, 90s and early 00s. Surprised there's been no mention of Rab C Nesbitt or The League of Gentlemen.

On the other hand, the early-to-mid 90s had a veritable slew of minor sitcoms that only lasted one or two series that unsurprisingly haven't been mentioned:

Chalk, written by Steven Moffat (of Doctor Who fame), was a sitcom from the late 90s set in a secondary school. It bombed with the critics, but I always enjoyed it (the scene where a teenage boy is told that his mother has "looked under his mattress" and is predictably horrified sticks in the mind). It also had Nicola Walker in it, and she's amazing.

Men of the World happened in the early 90s and featured a young John Simm. It was set in a travel agency in Manchester, and that's all I can really remember about it.

The High Life - mid-90s I think. Starred Alan Cumming before he got famous, premise was two camp air stewards flying for Air Scotia. Funnier than it sounds.

Game On - I remember this being hilarious when I was a teenager, but re-watched a few episodes a while ago and failed to see the point.

Britcom trivia: Waiting for God's Christmas Special was filmed at the church next door to my old school (you can see it here intermittently from 13:50 onwards). Additionally, the external shots of Victor Meldrew's house in One Foot in the Grave were actually the childhood home of my husband's best friend. During the famous scene where Richard Wilson is buried up to his neck in the back garden, my husband was actually present on the other side of the camera.

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 Post subject: Re: British Sitcoms
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:35 pm 
Smeric
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Dewrad wrote:
The League of Gentlemen

I think I've heard of this via Netflix.
Quote:
Chalk

I confused this with the American mockumentary of the same name.


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 Post subject: Re: British Sitcoms
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:39 pm 
Sanno
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Dewrad wrote:
My god, this thread is a total trip down memory lane for me. I remember most of the British sitcoms of the 80s, 90s and early 00s. Surprised there's been no mention of Rab C Nesbitt or The League of Gentlemen.

The former I only watched to practice my Scottish accent comprehension and the latter is a sketch show, not a sitcom. I really appreciated its mix of comedy of horror, which took it deep into places Monty Python only ever dallied with.

If we want to broaden the scope to include those, I'd mention Burnistoun (see my comment on Rab C Nesbitt), Mitchell and Webb (still watch the best bits on YouTube), A Bit of Fry & Laurie (ditto), Vic Reeves Big Night Out (English friend gifted me the book), The Lenny Henry Show (much missed), The Catherine Tate Show (overrated), and Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle (spotty genius).


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 Post subject: Re: British Sitcoms
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:05 pm 
Smeric
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I should've known Hyacinth's relatives were Northerners. "I'm going to be a [nʊn]!"

Oh, and I keep remembering and then forgetting another British sitcom no one has mentioned yet but that I found via YouTube, thanks to a certain Chinese guy from Italy linguoboy also knows: Mind Your Language. Chock-full of stereotypes and perhaps not that interesting as a comedy, but some of the linguistic and cultural interchanges are hilarious, like Zoltán's first appearance on the show.


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 Post subject: Re: British Sitcoms
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 5:03 pm 
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Dewrad wrote:
The League of Gentlemen.


Not sure how much that counts, it's kind of a halfway house between sketch comedy and sitcom: it has an plot to each episode and a consistent setting but most of the scenes are pretty disjointed from the main narrative of the episode. Also I don't really find it that funny, more just disturbing.

Quote:
Britcom trivia: Waiting for God's Christmas Special was filmed at the church next door to my old school (you can see it here intermittently from 13:50 onwards).


Watching this also reminded me of the other great trivia point about this show: it's use of Schubert's Die Forelle Quintet as theme music.

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 Post subject: Re: British Sitcoms
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 5:19 pm 
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linguoboy wrote:
Dewrad wrote:
My god, this thread is a total trip down memory lane for me. I remember most of the British sitcoms of the 80s, 90s and early 00s. Surprised there's been no mention of Rab C Nesbitt or The League of Gentlemen.

The former I only watched to practice my Scottish accent comprehension and the latter is a sketch show, not a sitcom. I really appreciated its mix of comedy of horror, which took it deep into places Monty Python only ever dallied with.

If we want to broaden the scope to include those, I'd mention Burnistoun (see my comment on Rab C Nesbitt), Mitchell and Webb (still watch the best bits on YouTube), A Bit of Fry & Laurie (ditto), Vic Reeves Big Night Out (English friend gifted me the book), The Lenny Henry Show (much missed), The Catherine Tate Show (overrated), and Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle (spotty genius).

Well, British sketch shows really did reach their high point at that time, although I don't know how well they translate abroad. To add to your list there's The Fast Show and Harry Enfield's Television Programme/Harry Enfield and Chums (both pretty seminal for teenagers of my generation, although very catchphrase-based in retrospect), Not the Nine O'Clock News, Goodness Gracious Me (my personal favourite), Alas Smith and Jones, The Mary Whitehouse Experience (and its successor Punt and Dennis). There's also Naked Video, which launched Rab C Nesbitt. Of those which were utter dross (rather than just slightly dross), we can include Harry Hill, The Russ Abbott Show and any vehicle involving Reeves and Mortimer, who should have been drowned at birth.

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 Post subject: Re: British Sitcoms
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:07 pm 
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Dewrad wrote:
Well, British sketch shows really did reach their high point at that time, although I don't know how well they translate abroad. To add to your list there's The Fast Show and Harry Enfield's Television Programme/Harry Enfield and Chums (both pretty seminal for teenagers of my generation, although very catchphrase-based in retrospect), Not the Nine O'Clock News, Goodness Gracious Me (my personal favourite), Alas Smith and Jones, The Mary Whitehouse Experience (and its successor Punt and Dennis). There's also Naked Video, which launched Rab C Nesbitt.

I've heard of NtNOCN, which seems to have been seminal in launching several television careers, but I don't think I've ever seen more than one or two sketches from it.

I feel bad about forgetting Goodness Gracious Me, which I also enjoyed and on the strength of which I gave The Kumars at No. 42 several chances to impress me.

Oh, and I suppose there's some satisfaction in knowing where Baddiel and Dennis (who I only know from panel shows) first gained widespread exposure.


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 Post subject: Re: British Sitcoms
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:41 pm 
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linguoboy wrote:
Dewrad wrote:
My god, this thread is a total trip down memory lane for me. I remember most of the British sitcoms of the 80s, 90s and early 00s. Surprised there's been no mention of Rab C Nesbitt or The League of Gentlemen.

The former I only watched to practice my Scottish accent comprehension and the latter is a sketch show, not a sitcom. I really appreciated its mix of comedy of horror, which took it deep into places Monty Python only ever dallied with.

If we want to broaden the scope to include those, I'd mention Burnistoun (see my comment on Rab C Nesbitt), Mitchell and Webb (still watch the best bits on YouTube), A Bit of Fry & Laurie (ditto), Vic Reeves Big Night Out (English friend gifted me the book), The Lenny Henry Show (much missed), The Catherine Tate Show (overrated), and Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle (spotty genius).


Dewrad's now stolen my thunder somewhat (hello Dew, btw), but...


If we're doing sketchshows, I think the best are indeed ABoF&L and the various incarnations of Mitchell and Webb. But for historical interest, we really ought to mention:

- Monty Python's Flying Circus (obviously).
- Not only But Also (Peter Cook and Dudley Moore).
- The Frost Report.
- That Was the Week That Was

Four shows with an intertwined set of talents (TWTWTW was our first weekly satirical show, but combined sketches with monologues). Python was the silly end of the spectrum, the rest being rather sharper and darker. [Cook and Moore also did an obscene radio show where they just tried to be as weird and offensive as possible]

- Morecombe and Wise. I know Python are the 'cult' act people remember, but it's impossible to overstate the cultural significance of Morecombe and Wise. Their Christmas Specials pulled nearly 30 million viewers, or probably more than half the televisions in the country, and they're still beloved (in 2006 they were voted (in the UK, obviously) the second biggest star(s) of in the history of television (behind David Jason)). It's also an interesting style of show: they have a style more in keeping with old Variety performers than modern comedians, and in their sketches they're often in, or close to, their 'own' character, so there's a sort of sitcommy element to it, plus song and dance routines and monologues. It's incredibly old-fashioned, but much better than the description might suggest.

- The Two Ronnies. Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett. Successors to Morecombe and Wise. Unfortunately, they tended to be way too into the puerile Benny Hill comedy of pies in faces and jokes about breasts - masking the fact that they were both really good performers and very clever when they wanted to be; though few of their sketches have survived the test of time, those that have are legendary.

- Not the Nine O'Clock News. Successors to TW3 - sharp sketches with a heavy lean toward satire. Mostly made up of Smith and Jones (who had their own show as a double act), Atkinson, and Pamela Stephenson.

- Spitting Image. Satirical sketches with puppets.

- The Mary Whitehouse* Experience, which then divided into Punt & Dennis and Newman & Baddiel (the latter of which then spawned Skinner & Baddiel). Essentially the sketch reaction to the more aggressive, 'edgy' developments in standup. Became 'stadium' comedy with massive fanbases (though little critical support) - Newman and Baddiel's touring live show played to an audience of 12,000 at one point.

- The Fast Show. Successor to Mary Whitehouse (ironically led by Paul Whitehouse, no relation). A lot of catchphrases. Noted for its very short sketches. I think of it as attached to the Harry Enfield sketch shows, though apparently Whitehouse is the only common link.

- Little Britain (*shudders*).

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 Post subject: Re: British Sitcoms
PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:51 pm 
Smeric
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When I first read the first few posts of this thread, I thought to myself "hmmmm, I've watched a bunch of British shows, but none of them were sitcoms. Oh, Little Britain! No wait, that's not a sitcom." But when I kept reading I found several I used to watch.

Mr. Bean - It was funny back then, but I second the Pole's comment about one's brain crawling backwards :-D
'Allo 'Allo - I like this, but it was hard to follow if you missed an episode
Fawlty Towers - I enjoyed this back then, but now I can't stand it
Absolutely Fabulous - The best one of these
The Vicar of Dibley - This show has like a warm aura, which is probably why Vijay's dad thinks it's girly
Keeping Up Appearances - Yeah, seeing it on TV now makes me realize that it's not actually that good

Does Queer as Folk count as a sitcom? I remember there being some bits in it that were kinda like a sitcom.

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