Thursday, July 25, 2019

"Are You Free, Mr. Humprhries?"

I pulled the plug on broadcast TV several years ago, and except for local news and weather (which I've recently been able to get in small quantities through my Apple TV device), I haven't regretted that decision at all. The single thing that I enjoy best about the twenty-tweens is the ability to act as the Programming Director for my own personal TV station. As you might expect, its imaginary call letters are station WDUK. 

Monday nights are Comedy nights, I've been able to balance new-to-me shows like COUPLING and BLACK BOOKS with old favorites like GILLGAN and ALL IN THE FAMILY -- and just recently among the mix I've been watching the first series of ARE YOU BEING SERVED? once again, after probably more than a decade since the last time it aired on my local PBS station. 

It was and remains an absolute classic, and a textbook (along with its cousin, ALLO, ALLO, by the same creators) on how to write comedy that is clean enough to pass any censor yet filled with filthy double-entendres that actually work both ways. Where modern shows are dragged down by in-your-face vulgarity, the writers of ARE YOU BEING SERVED and 'ALLO 'ALLO mastered the art of getting away with the dirtiest jokes by making them perfectly innocent. I will always fondly remember Mrs. Slocum's pussy.

Today I looked up the actors and was dismayed and saddened, though not surprised, to find that ALL the cast, even the youngest, have died -- they're all gone. Frank Thornton (Captain Peacock) outlived them all, dying at the age of 92 in 2013. They were not in the upper echelon of British actors, but they were top notch at what they diid, one of the great ensemble casts of British television.

-- Thorn.

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