"Anyone who has ever watched Open All Hours or Keeping Up Appearances will already be familiar with writer Roy Clarke's distinctive brand of humour, and if you've enjoyed the type of humour in either of these two shows, Last of the Summer Wine is certainly worth checking out. Humour aside, however, this series is somewhat different from the other two. It's overall a very laidback, gentle series filled with some extremely scenic views of the Yorkshire dales and the loveliest theme music of any Britcom. One ought not to expect, therefore, to find a powerhouse (like Arkwright or Hyacinth) leading the show (oh, they are here--and in greater numbers than in the BFS boxed set which contains the earliest episodes--but they're relegated to supporting roles!). Rather, the series revolves around the humorous adolescent antics and "philosophical" musings (if one can call it that) of three carefree, lay-about geriatric men.
Most memorable is the tatty, peg-toothed Compo Simonite (Bill Owen, who sadly died at age 85 of pancreatic cancer in 1999--like most, he was with the show till the very end), who's spent his life on the dole, is the most rangy-tang and mischievous of the lot, and is forever dreaming of his neighbour, Nora Batty--wrinkled stockings and all. Then there is Norman Clegg (Peter Sallis), a man who's terrified of women--which is unfortunate as he is constantly called upon by his neighbour Howard (the epitomy of a hen-pecked husband) to assist Howard in communicating with his "young lady" friend, the man-eating Marina. Lastly is Foggy Dewhurst (Brian Wilde), a humorously regimental (but totally inept) ex-military man, without whom the other two would never do anything and there'd be no show! Wilde, who left the show for a brief period from 1985-90, retired permanently in 1997.
Though series is still in production after more than 30 years, the years from 1990-1997 (the Howard & Marina/Foggy Dewhurst years) were among the strongest for the series. This BBC boxed set, subtitled Vintage 1995, falls within that classic era and includes ten 30-minute episodes (the complete second series of episodes to be filmed during 1995) plus the 60-minute Christmas special entitled "A Leg Up for Christmas."
Special features include "30 Years of Last of the Summer Wine", a 60-minute look back at the show, the characters, how the series came about, the scoring of the music, etc.--even the odd blooper is included. The producer, writer, and many of the actors share their thoughts. Also included are a 6-minute skit entitled "The Funny Side of Christmas" (which dates between 1976-1985) and an enjoyable 30-minute "Tribute to Dame Thora Hird", who was unforgettable as the "motor-vehiclely challenged" Edie Pegden, the battle-axe wife of Wesley (who rarely appeared without his greasy overalls and could always be found tinkering in his shed with something mechanical--usually to a disastrous end!). Sadly, Gordon Wharmby (Wesley) passed away at age 68 in 2002 from lung cancer, whilst Dame Thora died at age 91 in 2003 after suffering a stroke.
This series is a classic example of British character comedy--and what a wealth of characters there are. Apart from the aforementioned, who can forget wily Auntie Wainwright, who sells antiques like a venus flytrap catches flies; or the hilarious antics of blind-as-a-bat Elie (sadly Danny O'Dea also died in 2003 aged 91). From the ladies' coffee mornings, to Compo's amorous advances towards Nora Batty, to Howard's ill-fated clandestine romance with Marina, this is a series our entire family enjoys (it's my dad's favourite). Although we enjoy the current episodes, with the loss of so many memorable characters, the 1995 Vintage hails back to a time when the series was truly at its zenith. One can only hope the BBC will continue to bring more episodes to DVD."
Not for the uninitiated viewer!
J. Kelley | Mid-Atlantic coast | 05/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I find it sad that reviewers here expect LOSW to compare with Fawlty Towers, Father Ted, or even some of my own favorites, The Young Ones and Bottom. With the exception that all are in comic veins, LOSW is a different sort of humour.LOSW is a *quiet* comedy show. What I love most about the entire run of the series is that it portrays characters who obviously feel they are still the kids they once were. There is some slapstick comedy, and certainly the aspects of French farce are more involved since the intro. of Howard, Pearl, and Marina, but none of the wild or completely improbable situations of other Britcoms.
The writer of this show continually shows his love for Yorkshire, its strong and very human people, beautiful scenery, and the county's northern community standards. I love his feel for dialogue, relatioships, and community life.I'm still waiting for all the seasons to make it over here on VHS or DVD. I'd love to view the entire run of the series."
Classic British Comedy set in Matchless Yorkshire Settings-
Ancient Mariner | Maine, USA | 07/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most of the other reviews of this set are referring to the four disc set. This two disc set contains: "Desperate for a Duffield, Suit That Turned Left, Beware of the Elbow, The Thing in Wesley's Shed, Brushes at Dawn, A Leg Up For Christmas, Leaving Home Forever (Or 'til Teatime), Bicycle Bonanza, Glamour of the Uniform, First Human to Ride a Hill, and Captain Clutterbuck's Treasure", Special Features: 30 Years of LOTSW, The Funny Side of Christmas.
This series (all of them) are priceless. If however, you can't handle the Yorkshire accent or Brit humour, it will take you a while to get all of the sneaky little bits of laughter. Don't mess about with the other reviews, the good stuff they contain pertains to any LOTSW, which is hilarious start to finish. Some of the best of the Britcoms. 5 Stars are not enough."
Pure Gold DVD Release
www.summerwine.co.uk | England | 06/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first and most important thing to point out about this DVD release is that it is inly suitable to play on either Region One or Multi Region DVD players. Although my own DVD player was for the UK region, I managed to find the code on the internet to change it to multi region, so I was able to play this amazing DVD. If you want to find your code, I suggest putting the model and number of your DVD player into a search on the internet. It is possible in a lot of cases to change the region code of your player...anyhow, the DVD...The cover of the double DVD is very eye catching - and the clear picture on the front cover of the three characters is very impressive, crisp and clear and gives in instant sense of fun. The back cover is actually, even better than the front with more pictures of Compo, Clegg and Foggy, along with Nora, Edie, Glenda, Ivy and Pearl. The only dissapointment to the DVD sleeve is that it doesn't actually provide the episode titles which are on the DVD.Now, in most cases of DVD releases of vintage BBC comedies, the special features have been very few, if not non existant, but on this DVD, they are something very, very special....It includes the documentary Thora - A tribute to her Life and Career which is a delightful look back at the beloved actresses career in film, stage, radio and television, it includes a long since seen sketch from Compo, Clegg and Foggy called The Funny Side of Christmas, a short ten minuet section on how not to enjoy Christmas (although Compo has other ideas!). Also included are very informative biographies of the cast and crew plus, the special 2002 programme 30 Years of Last of the Summer Wine - an hour long programme starting from the very beginning in 1972 and bringing us right up to date, introducing Bill Hardcastle, Entwhistle and Alvin.The episodes included on the release are;
Leaving Home Forever, Or Till Teatime (3 Sep 95)
Bicycle Bonanza (10 Sep 95)
The Glamour Of The Uniform (17 Sep 95)
The First Human Being To Ride A Hill (24 Sep 95)
Captain Clutterbuck's Treasure (1 Oct 95)
Desperate For A Duffield (8 Oct 95)
The Suit That Turned Left (15 Oct 95)
Beware Of The Elbow (22 Oct 95)
The Thing In Wesley's Shed (29 Oct 95)
Brushes At Dawn (5 Nov 95)
A Leg Up For Christmas (24 Dec 95)
These are all very, very funny episodes - a personal favorite, A Leg up for Christmas. The very, very good thing about this DVD, is that it is almost like a time capsual all in one box. The episodes are from 1995, and are very, very crisp and clear and the music is great - plus, this is the very first time that these episodes have been seen in widescreen. Along with the series from 1995, is the documentary, which takes us back to the start and brings us up to date, plus the short sequence The Funny Side of Christmas which is almost like a mini episode in itself, so, whatever era of the series you like best, your are sure to see part of it on this DVD.I have no doubt in my mind at all that this will be a huge seller....and lets keep our fingers crossed for many more to come. I highly reccommend this title - it is pure gold for summer wine fans!Check out www.summerwine.co.uk for more information."
It's about pace and patience
Micheal Yates | lexington, ky United States | 12/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"i find it amusing that another reviewer from lexington kentucky said a lot that i would say.
lotsw shows up on our pbs station on weekends with other britcoms and that is almost the problem. wedged in between "are you being served" and the antics of hyacinth bucket i like many others i suspect watched about five or ten minutes of this show and headed elsewhere. i was in a hurry for the fast laughs of almost all britcoms. one night i could find absolutely nothing else on so i watched--and the next week i watched and now it's my favorite vacation spot.
the pace of the program reflects the pace of the place and its people. it does not mean they are not funny but the show is not about zingers and one liners. it's about a beautiful place that in and of itself is worth watching. it's populated by people who are perhaps a bit odd but it's a small country town isn't it. for all of the attitude of some of the players there's no real evil or meanness here. virtually all have a soft underside. even howard's extra curricular tendancies are more endearing than adulterous.
i must agree with the reviewer who felt he could relax, pour a drink and settle back into a slower simpler place. if you relax and really watch the show it is an absolute joy.
i fear that one of the differences in americans and brits is the attitude toward age. shows like this one, "waiting for god", "dad's army" and even "as time goes by" present the attitude that one can still be funny, loving, and worthwhile after 50. in the u.s. there is little of this excepting "golden girls". that is sad and i applaud our cousins in the u.k. for producing some marvelous television--further--programs that hold up so well over time."