Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Comedy, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Hilarious British sketch series that launched some of today?s top stars In the tradition of Monty Python?s Flying Circus and Saturday Night Live, Alfresco brought hilariously inventive comedy to British TV in the 1980s. It... more »
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Great DVD Set, but the comedy is often very hit and miss
Joshua Bozeman | Evansville, Indiana | 07/22/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I just got the box set the other day, and it's very well put together. It's on 2 discs inside the regular paperboard box with the one end open. I haven't watched the entire thing yet, but I've seen some of series 1 and some of series 2 to try to get a feel for the comedy overall. Each disc has some extra material. There's a look into the counter-culture comedy of the early 80's (of which Alfresco was a part of), cast bios that are fairly lenghty and indepth, and the first 3 episodes of the pilot series the show resulted from. It's well put together. There's episode selection and PLAY ALL on each disc. There's even an lengthy insert that tells the backstory of the series and how it all came to be.
So, the set itself is top notch. As always, Acorn Media has put together a very nice set here.
As for the show itself- it's VERY hit and miss. A lot of the routines are just dreadful. A lot of the jokes don't even make sense. The laughs are more plentiful in Series 2 where they started to change the form of the routines. They more closely fit the traditional sketch comedy formula. I didn't love it that much as a whole. There were some funny bits, but a lot of it I just watched and waited. The laugh out loud parts never came. I'd smile here and there for large chunks, but I don't think I laughed out loud once. (so far)
I have a feeling this set was made simply because Hugh Laurie has made it big in the US with House. He's got charisma, and you can see he has comedy chops. I've never actually seen Fry and Laurie, but both men show talent and comedic timing here and there. If the material was funnier, you might get a better idea of that talent.
I should also mention a lot of the genuine laughs in the show are ruined by the annoying laugh track. Tho, honestly, I watched entire skits and didn't laugh at all, and kept waiting for the laugh track to kick in so I'd have some idea of when I was supposed to laugh (wondering if I just wasn't getting the British political humor of the time). A lot of the times, the track never did kick in, and the skit itself felt like it wasn't aiming at comedy but just an attempt at being anti-establishment.
You do feel like you're watching a bit of history when you see the show. I'm a big fan of the 80's, and tho I was a kid at the time, when you watch stuff from the early 80's like this, it feels like a big change was taking place. Especially the British shows. You feel like you're witnessing something historic, even if it's not all that funny in the end.
In the end, I'm probably being too hard on the show, it's not horrible. Don't get me wrong, a lot of it was unfunny and boring, but there were bright spots here and there, and I laughed a number of times from what I've seen so far. It's just that the laughs are too few and they don't come often enough to recommend it. The performers all show great energy, and most of them clearly have great talent for comedy.
A well put together box set, some nice extra features, but the show itself isn't funny enough to warrant too much excitement. Fans of Hugh Laurie, Steven Fry, Robbie Coltrane, and even Emma Thomspon will probably enjoy seeing these actors in their early years, but the comedy will fall flat for a lot of people.
Reet | Pennsylvania | 07/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Brilliant ground breaking British comedy! Wonderful performances by Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson (old school chums). A must for all Jeeves and Wooster, A Bit of Fry and Laurie and House M.D. fans."
Hugh Stephens ! | Wrexham UK | 10/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"5 Stars, maybe because i'm a Brit. these are just some of the TV stars(we now know are), of the future who made me laugh, who's humour is ageless and, well sometimes silly, but who can argue the genius that has come from that."