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Tony Grist

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They Were Funny Once, Some Of Them Still Are [Dec. 20th, 2015|10:17 am]
Tony Grist
The Dad's Army movie- the original one not the re-make, which hasn't been released yet- was followed by a Morecambe and Wise compilation which was followed by a Porridge Christmas Special. The cream of late 20th century TV comedy is now as much a part of the Christmas experience as Dickens and Santa and pudding.

The Dad's Army movie is better than you might suppose. Like the series that spawned it it has problems with tone- sometimes aiming for Ealing and sometimes for the end of the pier. Croft and Perry were pie in the flies men who saddled themselves on this one show with a cast who transcended the material. I could watch Lowe and Le Mesurier till the cows come home. On the small screen the physical comedy is often clumsily done- without grace or timing- but on the big screen there was time to get it right- and the sequence involving a steam roller and lines of tents and equipment is a joyful experience.

Morecambe and Wise are ready for retirement. One laughs from memory. Why- in 2015- are we still sitting down in prime time to watch sketches that rely on the audience knowing about such demi-celebs of yesteryear as Des O'Connor, Angela Rippon and Andre Previn?

Porridge may be the best sit-com ever made. Ronnie Barker straddles the comedy generations. He did rumpy-pumpy, lets-please the grannies material (rather too much of it- I'm not a fan of the Two Ronnies) and he also created Fletch- an ingratiating, not-very-nice little criminal low-life with his back against the wall- jesting and japing in the face of despair.

[User Picture]From: steepholm
2015-12-20 04:14 pm (UTC)
Today I overheard a woman, who couldn't have been older than her early thirties, telling a toddler, "Don't panic, Mr Mainwaring!" That was somehow reassuring.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-12-20 06:02 pm (UTC)
I'm not really surprised. Dad's Army seems always to be running on one channel or another. I keep catching it without particularly meaning to.
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[User Picture]From: howlin_wolf_66
2015-12-20 04:26 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's a bad thing to know about history - but one does kind of despair about where the future equivalent 'classics for all ages' will come from!

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-12-20 06:09 pm (UTC)
Who knows. Families don't sit down and watch TV together the way they used to.

On the other hand, I doubt that anyone at the time suspected that shows like Porridge and Dad's Army would live so long. If they'd known they were making something for the ages I reckon they'd have taken more care over their production values.
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