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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > British TV > Situation Comedy > A Fine Romance - Complete (British TV)

A Fine Romance – Complete (British TV Sitcom)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Episodes: B-



I really like Judi Dench and the idea of her doing a Brit-Com (British Situation TV Comedy) seems like a “next logical step” idea.  For Diana Rigg’s American-produced Diana, it did not work out.  Dench fared better with A Fine Romance (1981 – 1983) with her then-husband Michael Williams as two older people still unconnected and wondering if a relationship between the two of them is possible.  Susan Penhaligon is her sister who brings them initially together, but it is not so simple.


The series runs 26 half-hour slotted episodes and is a sort of comedy soap opera, though not a satire like the U.S. classic Soap.  Instead, the humor has to do with the characters, their interactions and senses of regret in each show, which is well cast throughout.  It is smarter than the usual sitcom, but is not necessarily a laugh riot, nor is it the dreadful creature once dubbed the “dramedy” that U.S. networks tried to invent a few years later.  Instead, it is smart storytelling tempered with comedy that does not try so hard, which is why it became a hit and is so sought after, Acorn Media issued it on DVD.


Originally, they issued three double DVD sets, but all 6 discs are collected in this Complete set.  In the U.S., a series is every episode of one show, but in Britain, a series means a season.  That is why the title of the whole set is different.  Either way, anyone who likes the initial shows will want the entire series and those who do not will only want to check it out just to have seen it.  I give the show credit for no easy answers and being honest about the difficulties of relation ships, especially in later years.  My only reservation is that it still could have been funnier and this is a critic who loves British humor.  It plays it down to some extent and that made the show drag occurrently as I (re)watched it.  Still, it is a “fine” show and The Complete A Fine Romance is a satisfactory collection.


The full frame 1.33 X 1 image is from good analog PAL materials, the video masters being very clean and holding up well nearly a quarter-century later.  This looks better than public television broadcasts, which actually made the humor and performances work more effectively.  Add the Dolby Digital 2.0, which takes the original monophonic sound and gives it a good stereo boost, and this is the best way to see the show.  Dench sings the title theme, which is humorous, but I wish it had more variations as the shows went on.  Played over and over, it feels unnecessarily redundant.  She is funny singing it, though.  The only extras are text on the cast and creator Bob Larley, who added text notes on the show and how it came to be.  Fans will especially be very happy in what is essentially a treasury worth acquiring.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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