The great British sitcom

Discussion in 'TV Central' started by Mel O'Drama, Sep 17, 2016.

  1. Mel O'Drama
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    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Having completed Series Five, it's occurred to me that the format of As Time Goes By has changed quite distinctly since the earlier episodes. Surprisingly, the marriage of Lionel and Jean has been the least of the changes.

    We haven't visited the office in quite some time, which would have been unthinkable early on in the run where the secretarial agency was as much a part of the series as Jean's home. To accommodate this, Sandy has moved in. When she landed on the doorstep in the first episode of Series Four (I think), it was ostensibly because she'd had another row with her boyfriend. But she's become a permanent fixture with very little comment from anyone (though a couple of lines from Jean and Lionel have suggested Sandy is now thought of as family). Naturally, this has changed the dynamic. Particularly, Judi now has someone to interact with while Jean and Lionel are doing their country thing. But each time they mention "Judi and Sandy" (which is with some frequency) I can't help thinking of these chaps.

    Becoming part of the country set after being gifted Rocky's house has added more layers to the series. Mixed feelings here, one the one hand it's made the series a little less identifiable (and I speak as someone who doesn't have a country mansion in which to spend my weekends), but the new set of problems and social commentary it's brought with it has been greatly enjoyable.

    Joan Sims is a treasure. It's a treat for me to see her so late in life in these episodes, still with that sparkle in her eyes. It's reminded me that I've never got round to watching her last filmed piece of work, The Last Of The Blonde Bombshells (also with Judi Dench). This must be rectified.
     
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  2. Swami
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    One thing that has always saddened me is that Joan Sims never got a proper chance at a real leading role in her own sitcom, certainly she had plenty of supporting roles but given her ability as an actress I always thought there were opportunities to a write a decent sitcom for her.

    Swami
     
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  3. J. R.'s Piece
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    Yes. Michael Bates was born in Jhansi in India and he lived there as a boy and later served in Burma. Think his father was born in India too. So his experiences may have assisted with his performance.

    Peter Sallis mentioned that Michael Bates had an argument with Bill Owen on Last of the Summer Wine over their opposing political views.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8054225.stm
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018 at 9:56 AM
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  4. Swami
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    Yes, although they did subsequently get on well together. This reared its head again when Brian Wilde joined the show, and quite often Peter Sallis would do his best to keep the peace.

    Swami
     
  5. J. R.'s Piece
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    I sometimes encounter Georgina Moon and Margaret Nolan in person from time to time, sometimes at the same time. I run into Valerie Leon, Richard Gibson, Kim Hartman all fairly regularly too. Georgina was in Gerry Anderson’s UFO, playing a Skydiver operative. For some reason, she stuck in my mind.
    F4B84F25-DCAB-4941-B6D0-43BB42C132CF.jpeg
     
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  6. Mel O'Drama
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    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Joan would have been a great sitcom lead, but there's something about her supporting roles that feels quite fitting. She's a very generous performer as part of an ensemble and somehow I think she was more comfortable that way.



    That's an interesting read. I had no idea



    My goodness. Next time you run into her ask her if she still has that top.




    In As Time Goes By news, it looks like Judith and Alistair are headed to official coupledom The lead up to it has given us an abundance of Moira Brooker's throat clearing acting and I fear the new series may contain more of that. And probably a great deal of eating toast in her dressing gown. Judith and Sandy certainly eat a lot of toast, don't they? I love Sandy even more since I've noticed her love of Marmite.
     
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  7. Daniel Avery
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    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I've always felt reluctant to bring this up, but Moira Brooker always seemed to be the weak link in the series. I had not noticed the throat-clearing, but it seems as if the toast eating is another of the 'callbacks' they employ (like the custard tart thing, and Jean's nosiness). And odd choice, since they'd have to keep replacing the toast with an un-bitten piece every time there was a different take filmed. I also noticed (when watching the series at different points) that Judi/Moira seemed to be a yo-yo dieter, which could have been real-life pregnancy-related for all I know. It's one of the drawbacks of large gaps between seasons/series--people change in ways the cameras can't disguise.
     
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  8. Mel O'Drama
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    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Of all the regulars, she's the one that works the least for me. I'm sure she's fine, but I find myself preferring scenes that don't feature her.

    Yes - I've noticed that during a scene the toast actually gets eaten. There's no nibbling away or using it to gesture with. It's actually devoured on camera.

    I suppose it can't be helped and in some ways can sum up how life is when you bump into someone you haven't seen in a while. But then when nobody comments it's a little confusing. It would be interesting for me to compare how the cast looked in the first year or so to the episodes I'm currently watching from Series Seven. I'm sure it would be eye opening.
     
  9. Mel O'Drama
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    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I know a sitcom is really well written when it becomes part of my language as shorthand to describe a parallel situation or characteristic. In recent weeks, I've shared several instances of this with As Time Goes By - mostly shared with my viewing companion. The character I share the most foibles with is Lionel, highlighting that I'm getting older and grouchier.

    Last night there was an instance where I didn't catch something that was said to me, echoing the episode we'd watched almost immediately before in which Jean was concerned about Lionel's hearing. Then this morning I woke up from a dream and uttered a random word ("cream", in case you're wondering), and immediately recognised I'd "done a Lionel". The frequency with which these similarities are arising is a little troubling.
     
  10. Daniel Avery
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    Daniel Avery Super Moderator Staff Member

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    If it helps, your writing is so much more interesting than anything from My Life in Kenya.

    Faint praise? :rolleyes:
     
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  11. Mel O'Drama
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    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Series Eight of As Time Goes By has commenced and, as we enter the 21st Century, it's now in glorious widescreen. Those opening titles look a little strange now - I can understand why many shows re-shot their credits when they went widescreen. But that's hardly a deal breaker.

    One thing I forgot to mention was the final episode of Series Six. Lionel producing the photocopy of the missing letter that is the driving force behind the series was such a beautiful scene and I felt quite moved as the extended theme music played over the final scene. What a perfect ending it would have been to the entire series. Not that the series has outstayed its welcome. I'm not in a hurry to leave this show behind.

    The evolution of the series has worked well. It's moved on from the original premise of Jean and Lionel's reunion - by necessity after eight years. But the backstory hovers over the series and still feels significant even though we've seen it through. The will they/won't they has now shifted to the next generation with Judith/Alistair and Sandy/Harry which is slightly less engaging, but still watchable. As a late addition to the series, I really like Harry and I find myself rooting for him to stop putting his foot in it with his rugby obsession taking precedence.

    The letter scene above is an example of the heartfelt writing. Every once in a while Bob Larbey will throw out a moment of sentiment or even pathos that adds weight to the rest of the goings on. In an episode last night, Lionel had been stalked by a stray dog which they ended up taking in. Lionel was most reluctant to become attached to the dog - partly for practical reasons that they didn't know if the dog belonged to someone else (which, as it turns out, he did). Then at the end of the episode he talked about the dog he loved when he was younger, which was a nice moment. Just as things were getting warm and sentimental, Jean asked what happened and Lionel casually mentioned that after the dog became old and ailing he'd had to shoot him. It was a powerful moment that stopped things from getting too safe.


    Ha.

    And thanks…?
     
  12. Mel O'Drama
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    Mel O'Drama Super Moderator Staff Member

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    The wife from hell and her long suffering husband isn't completely unfamiliar, but Penny and Stephen are proof positive that Hyacinth Bucket doesn't have that market completely cornered. So I must give praise for these two. Whenever they're in an episode I know it's going to be a fun one and they haven't disappointed yet. Even just hearing that they're pulling up outside or due to arrive at any moment makes a scene even funnier… because I know what's going to come.

    I particularly enjoy that henpecked Stephen doesn't get too much sympathy from other characters because he's viewed to be dull as ditchwater. So their appearance is always met with dread for two different reasons.

    Here's hoping there are a couple more good P&S episodes before series' end.


    Frank Middlemass and Joan Sims's names flashing up at the start of an episode is another thing that's guaranteed to make me look forward even more to what's coming. Sadly I've now watched the last Joan Sims episode. It's a shame she wasn't in another one or two, but Madge will be fondly remembered.
     

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