Best of British Comedys
Graves | Pennsylvania | 10/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Are you Being Served?" is arguably the best known Brit com in the United States. For more than 10 years it followed the misadventures and schemes of the employees of a British Department store with everything from fire drills to foul weather, transit strikes to dissatisfied customers to out maneuvering the plans of management. The main characters became like well loved friends whose behavior you could rely on.
This set covers the early years of the show and what are generally accepted as their best episodes with the original cast. The staff is balance between the ladies' counter, headed by the self important Mrs. Slocum and her assistant the sharpish Miss Brahms. On the gentlemen's' side is the curmudgeonly Mr. Granger, Effete Mr. Humphries and scheming, fast talking Mr. Lucas. Between them is class conscious Captain Peacock. Presiding over all is Mr. Rumbold, who thinks he's a managerial genius but in fact he couldn't manage a chimps tea party.
The show was originally envisaged as a vehicle for Trevor Banister, Mr. Lucas, as the new man starting at a ridiculously stratified London department store, the sort of place where you can get in trouble for wearing the wrong hat to work or not folding your pocket handkerchief correctly. Bannister is supposed to be the normal man with whom the audience could identify as he explores the horrors of his work place but the other characters were so well developed they developed lives of their own beyond being foils for Bannister, transforming the show from a star vehicle for one to a very good ensemble comedy.
Such misadventures here include trying to survive management plans to save money, by turning off the heat during the winter, opening the store extra early, having to flog useless items because management bought way to much of something that no one was ever buying, transit strikes which leave them stranded or starring in store commercials, because it's cheaper to use staff than hire "real" actors. Along the way is a constant stream of customers who seem to almost get in the staff's way.
The packaging for this is very odd. It says volume/season 1-5 but the box is large enough to hold 7 discs and mine came with seasons 1-6 with an extra season 4. If you look at thep icture here on amazon is says 'season 1-5' but shows seasons 1-7 on the spines of the discs included. I suspect this is a re-packaging. AYBS had 12 seasons so an original break around season 7 for marketing would make sense but the show jumped the shark after season 7, too many original characters had left or the actors actually passed away, and I suspect people were less eager to buy the later seasons. But with this set, I got the first 6 seasons with all the original cast and they are gems of British humor, loaded with lovable characters and a mix of slap stick, puns and double entendre. If you like British comedy and you haven't encountered this yet, go for it, you will not be disappointed. If the episodes seem a little long, don't worry, they'll ride up with wear.