Clatterford (TV Series 2006–2009) Poster

(2006–2009)

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10/10
Extremely misunderstood and mispromoted!
Jaimito5515 December 2006
I think that this show has been very good for the first three episodes. It is nothing like Jennifer Saunders's previous comedies and so lots of people seem to be disappointed by it. The BBC promoted too much as a comedy and gave it a slot normally reserved for more obvious comedies. I would call it more of a comedy drama which would have been much more appropriate on a Sunday evening. I think when watching this show, you should expect gentle comedy which feels very warm, not the non-stop laughs of Absolutely Fabulous and then you won't be disappointed. All the actors give great performances, with Dawn French and Joanna Lumley providing most of the comic relief from most of the story lines, some of which are actually quite serious at times. Shows should never be judged on their pilot episodes and this is the perfect example - it was just setting the scene and creating openings for future story lines. I personally can't wait to see how all the characters develop over time and hope it is given the chance it deserves to grow into a lovely cosy drama. People are often too quick to judge, and with this show they absolutely mustn't.
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9/10
A Wonderful, Wonderful Show
LlamaEnigma25 December 2006
So, yeah, it's not abfab and it's true: at first, it feels like one of those inside-joke french and Saunders sketches that go on too long. HOWEVER, this show isn't meant to be the laugh-fest that abfab was. It's a much more balanced and calm series, one that finds humor in very human situations and subtleties. This may sound far-fetched, but there definitely is a sort of Chekhovian feel to Saunders' writing. Nothing much happens, but it is fascinating to watch the characters interact. The show touches on the awkwardness of living with such truth -- and therein lies the comedy (as with Chekhov, some viewers will only read tragedy... it's really a matter of perspective). The reason it may not catch on at first is because of the time necessary to establish the characters (there are perhaps too many) and adjust to the numerous subplots (it is an extremely ambitious show, spanning many tele-genres). Because of the character development and greater humanity of the writing, the show feels more like a full TV series than Jennifer Saunders' other work, and I think it's a sign of a certain maturity on her part. The classic Saunders quirks and humor are all still there, but it's toned down to approach something more like reality (unlike abfab, it is sans a laugh track, if that says anything). So, yeah, you have to realize Jam is a different animal.

Also, you've got to give Saunders credit for assembling a fine ensemble of older woman -- a demographic that is widely ignored by contemporary TV.
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10/10
It's not Absolutely Fabulous
geg_uk30 December 2006
.... and thank God for that!! I have heard nothing but bad things about Jam and Jerusalem but I think that it is excellent. It seems that anything that Jennifer Saunders does is compared against Absolutely Fabulous (which should have given up after the second series and was only kept alive for the lucrative BBC America audience) and I think it is a shame that many people do not seem to have given it a chance.

This is not a laugh a minute and I do not think that was the intention. The characters are excellently written and are subtle. Unlike Absolutely Fabulous where the viewer learned that (s)he was dealing with an old tart and an aging hippy and their 'hilarious antics' after 10 minutes of the first episode (or indeed after the two minutes of the sketch from French and Saunders from which Ab Fab sprang) the characters in Jam and Jerusalem are more complex and will need at least one more series to come into their own, in much the same way that the characters of 'dinnerladies' took time to develop.

People who want slap-stick, American, literal comedy should steer well clear of Jam and Jerusalem. Fans of French and Saunders and comedy that requires some thought on the part of the viewer will love it.
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8/10
Very like English village life as I knew it 30 years ago
susan-holmes-11 January 2007
I think it well represents English village life - and indeed family life, well known to us middle-aged women. I grew up in a village like this, where the Village flower show, for my grandparents who lived in the same road as us, was the highlight of the year and the stage for great rivalries.

I think it's not so much instant comedy as a comic look at the lives of a cross-section of women in a small community, who each have their problems. It feels as if it written from experience.

It is affectionate and not driven by sensational story lines. Most of the characters are ones that you recognise - and they are all concerned with looking out for each other, even if sometimes their help is misdirected.

It is more mature than Absolutely Fabulous, and nearly as enjoyable.
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10/10
It's getting better and better....
maggers_pope3 January 2007
It's sharp and dry and very,very good. Tip and Tash are wonderful. Odd moments are brilliantly done, such as when Queenie receives applause and a bouquet for directing the panto, she says on stage 'I can't take all the credit', and Eileen, Maggie Steed, remarks to Sal '...but she will' while smiling and clapping with all the others.

Sue Johnston is a real professional and totally believable as a widow without being cloy.

And Kate...well done for playing such a wimpy do-gooder full of good intentions but without a real life of your own.

Jennifer Saunder's stiff upper lip is a perfect antidote for Rosie's loopy behaviour, which I thought was ridiculous at first, but now I've got used to it and it is nice to see how she is protected by the other Guild members.

The vicar is a bit cardboardy and OTT as a character, but that is my only criticism and he became more believable when apologizing to Rosie.

The episode with the Doctor unable to examine his old headmistress was priceless.

This is a wonderful show that needs to be allowed to mature as the characters develop, but I love them all already.
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10/10
Sweet, charming but NOT a sitcom
sfemet4 January 2007
When this appears on U.S. TV, it will be compared to "The Golden Girls." It is my fondest wish that NO ONE take such a comparison seriously. J&J is NOT a sitcom, thank Jennifer Saunders.

It is a sweet, charming, funny slice of life in a West Country village filled with eccentric, idiosyncratic folks. There is no one there I don't like and many I would love to know.

It has so far been a complete delight, filled with Jennifer's trademark wit, a delicious cast, beautiful locations and wonderful music. No laugh tracks, no dumbed-down humor here. It has an almost Robert Altman-like quality with overlapping dialogue and wonderful set pieces (episode five has several, my favorite being the pony trials). U.S. viewers might not get some of the references but for those of us who grew up in large towns and now live big cities, it is a temptation to chuck it all and move in with these people.

British TV is noteworthy for not padding episodes with exposition and back story which is a refreshing change. You'll pick everything up, trust me.

While Jennifer plays a small role as perpetually nettled Caroline Martin, it is Sue Johnston's show. I loved her work in "Waking the Dead" and am delighted that she gets to show off her comic side. The rest of the cast is really solid, particularly Sally Phillips as Tash, (you haven't lived until you've seen her UK Valley-girl/hippie/stoner routine), and Dawn French's Rosie takes turns making me laugh and breaking my heart. Pauline McLynn plays Sue's best mate and has totally won me over.

The only weak spot might be Joanna Lumley's Delilah Stagg. It's pretty clear that Delilah is a somewhat re-worked version of the aged Patsy Stone from "Ab Fab." She seems to turn up, do a bit of business each episode and disappear. Not sure where Jennifer's going with Delilah, but who knows maybe that's the point.

Really first class TV. Can't wait for Series 2. Get busy ladies.

(Each episode runs a full 30 minutes.)
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9/10
Excellent, after the initial episode
nancymc12325 January 2007
After the first episode, which was disjointed and not funny, the show did a remarkable turnaround. My daughter and I watched all 6 shows of the 1st series, plus the Christmas show. The more the series went on, the more we liked it. As has been mentioned, it is not meant to be like AbFab. It is funny and heartwarming at the same time - a character driven show. Though at first it was disappointing to not see much of Jennifer Saunders on screen (she plays only a minor character), I found that I really enjoyed watching Sue Johnston (Sal Vine) and Pauline McLynn (Tippi Haddem)develop their characters. Dawn French as Rosie was endearing and hilarious. I am looking forward to Series 2.
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10/10
fabulous!
outasight1231 July 2007
I just discovered the series. I became so absorbed that I ended up watching the whole 1st season in a weekend. In some ways, everyone is familiar with this community but, we rarely stop to see the humor that surround our daily life. This show reminded me to appreciate the odd moments that happen daily. I began watching because of how much I admire Sue Johnston's work and was again impressed. I was surprised, however, to see how much depth the rest of the cast showed. The scripts shifts quickly from humor to grief then on to love or annoyance and on an on. Usually one feels jostled with such transitions but the script and the expert acting by the cast keeps the plot flowing. I became absorbed in the story and only at the end did I realize how much was covered.

That can only be accomplished when a whole cast is up to the task. I can't wait for the next season!
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9/10
A slow start but worth watching
spartanp18 January 2007
I thought the first episode was quite poor.

However, it improved and from week 3 I was very happy with it. Although, I watched them in a block over four nights, having taped them with Sky plus. The acting is consistently good and the scripts have little gems all the way through - e.g. Rosie's holy potato and the vicars blessing of the stones.

There is a refreshing lack of typical sitcom situations and characters. Whilst to some it may be quaint, there is a subtle edge to the whole thing which gives moments of sadness and joy.

I know this is at odds with prior posts, but, having sat through the whole series I feel that it does not deserve to suffer for the couple of episodes that it took to establish the characters and the situation.

So to sum up, it is well worth watching in my opinion and I am really looking forward to the second series.
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8/10
Excellent
moonspinner96911 January 2007
This is a lovely program about life in a small village. Having grown up in a small town I can identify with the different personalities you find in small villages and towns everywhere. It's not supposed to be side split-tingly funny but a gentle poke at the small town politics that occur in a "ladies guild" sort of organisation. We had them in my home town and I would imagine just about every small town has them still. If you have never encountered this sort of life I pity you and this program will bore you but if you have the luck to live in such a place you will see the funny side of things and maybe even see yourself in one of the characters. I look forward to series two!
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10/10
A wonderfully accurate depiction of a cross section of late to middle aged rural English village life.
starlightdata9 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
As an ex-inhabitant of a north Dorset hilltop village I can testify that this series accurately depicts a cross section of rural English village life for the late to middle aged. It is an extremely subtly and cleverly written piece that can be watched over and over again. The cast parody easily recognisable village characters in every day situations. But it doesn't end there, it's both gently cruel and very funny. Look out for what they've done to Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunder's explanation of dogging, where one may hide cheese, how to deal with grief, what to do with a yurt, how to beat the bounds and finding novel ways to dispose of a corpse. This is a series that will be joining my collection.
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1/10
This thing won't let me Vote 0
Dnallov25 November 2006
Rubbish - Utter rubbish Why?

  • Its not a comedy - Its Bad Acting - Not Storyline - Makes as much sense as my cat does - The characters are out of character - BADLY ADVITISED


Yeah - The list goes on

This IS NOT what French and saunders are used to doing, they should stick to making great comedy's like Ab Fab, Vicar of Dibly. Not this Rubbish.

Kill this series before it gives the great British comedy a bad name. Seriously, my dog is a better source of comedy when it is asleep!
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6/10
Dramatic series, anemic comedy
imdb-29201 September 2008
As others have said, this is not a comedy, it's a dramatic series with comedic bits. As much as I hate to use to comparison, it's a lot like the Canadian show Corner Gas, but not as funny.

However, unlike Corner Gas, French & Saunders can't escape their broader comedy roots and have added Rosie, an over-the-top buffoon who knocks the whole show out of proportion. Rosie needs to have a tragic accident with a piece of farm machinery to make this a proper drama series.

If you like soap operas when the tension builds over whether the picnic will be a success, or you like the drama of wondering how long before a widow takes a belt to her horrible adult children, this is the show for you. If you were expecting the usual French & Saunders tomfoolery, give this series a miss.
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10/10
Quite enjoyable
m-brinkley112 June 2008
Unlike most of the reviewers, I had not heard of this program nor had I seen any advertisement for it. I just discovered it while browsing my local bookstore. It took me a while to purchase, it wasn't an impulse buy but I do enjoy Dawn French's work so I was willing to shell out the $29.99 for it and am glad I did.

I was hoping to watch one episode a day and draw out the enjoyment of it but, after the first episode, I just had to keep going and now, with it all watched, I wish I could watch the second season but it doesn't seem to show up on BBC America anytime soon. So, I guess I will have to wait.

One reviewer said it would be compared to "Golden Girls" but I can't imagine that. I see it more as a more contemporary, more female, less comedic version of "Last of the Summer Wine". I love the look at village life and suspect that it is not too far off in regards to realism. The characterization is wonderful, the story line is comfortable and warm and real and I just enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, I will probably watch it again -- something I don't tend to do often.
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10/10
Reasons why people don't like this great show...
quelperso6 April 2008
At least, these are my guesses (and some have of course already been mentioned by others):

1. People expected a new AbFab, and luckily, J&J isn't (because AbFab is great as it is)!

2. The characters are warm and not just stereotypes (like the ones in AbFab); and the funny bits are sometimes very subtle (not the sledgehammer kind of slapstick one finds in AbFab), and...

3. ... there are (luckily) no artificial/audience laughs to tell people when something's funny. (I mean this!)

4. Over the whole series hangs a curtain of melancholy. It's all about old age, death, illness, broken hopes, and all these matters hit the viewer directly, without a cushion of slapstick and silly punch lines in between. My favorite characters (French and Lumley) are the best examples: Ultimately funny, but one cannot get rid of the feeling that they are in fact pathetically tragic.

Actually, Mirrorball was similar in that it removed the wealth and consequently the care-freeness from an AbFab-like constellation of people, resulting in a much more tragic and bitter show. I don't know whether this was the reason they never made more than one episode, but I wouldn't be surprised if this was the reason.

So, anyone who likes a subtle and - in parts - sad comedy which deals with more or less real life situations, and which is played by extremely good actors which are up to the task: give J&J a try! The only thing I really don't like is the music. Can't stand folk...
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10/10
An Underrated Gem!
matthewk-662228 June 2016
I found this comedy to be one of the most overlooked, underrated series of recent years. Jennifer Saunders has followed the Victoria Wood method of giving the other characters the best lines, and subsequently ends up in the straight-laced but still humorous role of the snobbish Caroline. All of the actors work well together to create believable relationships, particularly Sue Johnston and Sally Phillips as mother and daughter Sal and Tash.

Out of the large high-profile cast, Dawn French steals the show with a wonderful portrayal as the schizophrenic-suffering, sweet cheese factory employee Rosie Bales, while Joanna Lumley is completely unrecognisable in her role as eccentric church organist Delilah Stagg. I don't know why the BBC pulled the plug on this after just three series, it is a charming and gentle comedy that really brightens up your mood.
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9/10
Jennifer doing her own thing
lee-41217 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Yea, blah, blah, blah - Bleat. Not going to mention the AF words here. Jennifer Saunders has created a credible, well constructed drama/comedy or perhaps black comedy. The cast is superb and special mention must go to Pauline McLynne and Sue Johnson. It's more like high quality soap than a comedy series. The drama is high and the laughs are low, subtle and of quality. To begin with, at first Dawn French is redundant and out of place, thankfully her character comes into her own in time throughout the series and becomes something more detailed and complex. Jennifer herself takes a backseat (thankfully) as her inclusion as a character is nothing more than Jen getting in on the act with the odd (very out of place quip)her character is most definitely based on a character from the 6th and last series of French & Saunders where she plays Chris Martin's mum. The character doesn't work and is redundant to the series, still she does manage to provide the odd laugh (Kasabian having broken her dishwasher is a real howler!) The point is that the series has a lot to offer and is of great quality. All of the characters have their own unique identity and the viewer is drawn in to the the actions and lives of the people. Hopefully in series two, Jennifer won't appear and do herself and the series a favour. Sadly the writer is brilliant but her character is superfluous and distracting to an otherwise worthy piece of work.
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10/10
More Fabulous
kmatlack26 November 2007
I love this program. No, it isn't hilarious. It's touching, gently amusing and interesting. I've watched the entire series many times and every time I see it I'm more impressed with Jennifer Saunders' writing than the time before. I live in a very small US town and I have to say that small town/village life seems to fit a pattern no matter where you live. I recognized some of these women and the way of life.

Some have complained that there are too many characters but I disagree. Each character develops at a nice leisurely pace as the series progresses so that by the end of the Christmas Panto we feel that we know these women quite well--and like them. I hope that this is the first of as many series as the characters can sustain and can hardly wait until Series 2.
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Is this supposed to be funny?
bs3dc27 November 2006
My summary really says it all for this woeful train-wreck of a comedy.

The show will probably be award-winning and be commissioned for several more series, but as far as I am concerned the only award it deserves is for taking a great cast that has appeared in many of the most successful comedies of recent years (Father Ted, One Foot In The Grave, Peep Show) and making such a total mess. I can only really blame the writers, Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French who forgot how to write decent comedy over a decade ago, but are continually given the resources to fill our screens with more drivel. The BBC has to be applauded for not bowing to pressure from other channels and filling our screens with mindless reality TV, but the cast of Jam and Jerusalem means that it was probably much more expensive based on the wage bill and the location shooting - and is in my opinion a waste of the licence fee payers money when it is probably aimed at a section of the US market who think British people behave in this way.

It makes me feel sorry for the talented comedy writers out there who are rejected by the BBC, when they prefer to go with overrated writers who are living on well-past glories. This will probably be wrongly labelled as black comedy or comedy drama as the BBC does with all series like this (e.g. the execrable Nighty Night) when they have gone to a lot of trouble to create characters and scenarios then spectacularly failed to write any decent jokes, thinking that weirdness in itself is always funny. Wrong.

Comparisons I have seen with the sublime League of Gentlemen (one of the only real black comedies produced in the UK in recent years) are completely unfounded as that was hilarious for the first two series (and even the third was far better than this), and this had barely a recognisable joke or amusing scenario in the whole first episode that I could see. Admittedly it was only the first episode and another recent BBC comedy "Not Going Out" had a similarly poor start, but the latter had the advantage of at least having likable characters and a handful of decent gags that made me give that another go and that turned out to be very good. This had no such redeeming features that made me want to torture myself a second time.

Addendum: I have seen bits of other episodes in later weeks and if anything Jam and Jerusalem became even worse in my opinion. Even though it has now been labelled as a drama (good TV should not have to be labelled), I can't find any more merit in it than before.
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9/10
worth taking the time
fafner1231113 March 2007
You have to give this time and (as almost everyone else here has noted) be prepared that it's nothing at all like AbFab.

I'm a big F&S fan, but even I was disappointed by the first episode of J&J. Nonetheless I kept watching, and I wound up being entranced. Jen Saunders is a wonderful writer, the characters really grow on you and the more you see the more you'll want to see. It may be especially difficult for American viewers to comprehend English country life, but the series is totally charming and is very very funny in a quiet kind of way. The cast is excellent, especially Dawn French and Sue Johnston. It's very well worth the investment -- enjoy!!
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10/10
Fun Fun
ashford_apocalypse28 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Not quite what we're used to watch when it's written by Fabulous Jennifer Saunders, but I guess she was touched by country life so deeply that she had to adapt her unique view on things to it. With that very well known sense of humor, Jennifer shows us the life of the English country (Devon) and gives a handful of enjoyable new characters. Until now I think Joanna Lumley's Delilah might be the funniest of them all. At first you see her riding her bike viciously to only advance an inch or so on her way to buy a tomato. That made me giggle. And later on, playing church organ/piano at a funeral, she falls on the keyboard, what made me beg for air. Sue Johnston seems to be the main character. She plays a sympathetic nurse whose not so friendly husband dies suddenly. Entering a state of mellowness she decides to change her life, get a new hairdo and join the Women Guild, something she had always avoided. Jennifer Saunders as posh country lifer is quite mysterious so far. Eddie fans were a bit disappointed with this episode but, come on, it's Jennifer Saunders! She'll surprise us again, I'm sure. Dawn French is funny as crazed Rosie. Her alter ego Margaret likes to take on her life from time to time causing some trouble. She wasn't very funny in this 1st episode but the character has potential and, once again, it'll be impossible for a genius like Saunders to disappoint us. It has some fun moments in it, nothing too spectacular, it's only been an episode. I like it so far.
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8/10
So it's not a comedy...
youngsheri2 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I'll admit it, I'm a French and Saunders, AbFab, Vicar of Dibley fan. I was excited to hear about a new F&S show.

First off I want to know who put it in the comedy genre. It's not, it has funny parts that only Jennifer Saunders could write, but this is a light drama about a group of women who belong to a church social group.

I think the other problem people have with this is they think Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders who are both cast in it will be the main characters. They aren't. Sue Johnston who plays as Sal Vine is the main character. Her hardships with her family and this group of women from the church social group are what this revolves around. Once you get that into your head, it's a lot easier to deal with.

I have to note the funny stuff. Because when they come they're really funny, you just have to watch for them.

Delilah - Joanna Lumley reigns comedic queen in this show. Her character seems about a hundred years old and everything she does from riding a bike to driving a car is hilarious.

Rosie - Dawn French plays a woman with duel personalities. There's Rosie and there's Margaret. Rosie's happy, Margaret is not. She's also a little on the mentally challenged side. The sweet thing is watching the women of this group care for her.

Tippi - Pauline McLynn (who I've never heard of) is Sal's best friend. She's the receptionist at the local town Surgery (doctor's office for us Yanks) and she knows people by their medical problems more than their names which is really funny if you don't want others knowing your private 'personal' business.

Yasmeen - Salima Saxton (who I've never heard of either) is a serious woman, as she works as a nurse for her husband's doctoring practice you come to find that she has a weak stomach for anything remotely... um... bodily secreted. She's always ready to wretch.

Oddly enough Jennifer really doesn't play a funny bit. Her character Caroline is a minor player in the group. Her IRL daughter Freya is her daughter in the show. She was in two episodes, but she really only needed to be in one.

I have to admit, Jennifer did an excellent job in penning this show. Nicely done.
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8/10
It gets much better!
susi89131 March 2007
I too thought that with all of these actors, it would be hysterical! I am a huge fan of AbFab but this is quite different. It is a lovely take on a small town and the church guild. As a member of my own church guild, I know where these women come from! It gets better after this first show and I have become quite fond of the women, they grow on you! Some of the characters are a bit over the top but Sal and Tip are the kind of friends that you really want in your life. Sal's daughter in law (who can't seem to say smear) is the worst practice nurse as just about everything grosses her out! Dawn French's character is cute, she's not an idiot - she is just a bit eccentric and all the women care for her. It is a character driven show, the plots are just lines to learn about the Women!
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3/10
A real disappointment
jamesbo-34 January 2008
I have to agree with folks here unhappy with J&J (called Clatterford here in North America). I rented the DVD to watch with my wife as a treat on her birthday. We watched the first two episodes and didn't laugh once! (Fortunately I'd also rented a Midsomer Murders DVD as well, so we watched that.) Some here have said "it's a dramedy." Huh? Nearly a dozen top comedians assembled for this show, and it's not a comedy? What a mistake. And for those who've said I have to watch all the episodes, rewind scenes I found slightly funny and watch them again, then let the whole thing sink in as I meditate on its comic subtlety -- huh? Those F&S shows are hit-and-miss, but it's not long before another sketch comes on. The J&J DVD was over two hours long... I think this is another instance of a higher standard of living (Saunders') making for a lower standard of writing (J&J).
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3/10
For fans of countryside ennui only
eschetic15 July 2007
OK, forewarned that the first episode was exceedingly slow, but promised that later episodes grew in depth and gentle village humor, I slogged through for the first five (a fan friend shared the first seven episodes with me in the usually strong theory that immersing oneself in characters one can lose yourself in their world) and skipped to the finale which involved amateur theatricals and somehow seemed emblematic of the whole enterprise. If there was something magnificent in six, I may never know.

The portrait of British countryside life is doubtless strong and faithful, but I guess I'm too much of a city boy. Fans of "Last of the Summer Wine" (though it had stronger character development) or "The Vicar of Dibley" (if you thought the humor in the latter is too intrusive) will doubtless take to this series like ducks to water, but others be warned: this has nothing of the warm character development of "All Creatures Great and Small" or the sophisticated humor of "Yes Minister" or "Hot Lead" (but also blessedly none of the camp of "Are You Being Served").

It is what it is, but I enjoyed my actual time in the British countryside with real people more than my few hours with this strangely insulting show.
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