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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > British TV > Mapp & Lucia - Series One & Two

Mapp & Lucia – Series One & Two (British TV)


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



Though certainly better than most of the American situation TV comedies since the 1980s, the British situation comedy has been cast as a stereotype of laughfests with peculiar and eccentric humor where coined terms and ideas were expected from the U.S. audiences.  What is amazing about Mapp & Lucia is that it is a comedy with no laughtrack, no audience laughter whatsoever, is very sophisticated and intelligent, and is far more literate and knowledge-based than just about any comedy you will ever see on TV anywhere.  Looking at the first two seasons (aka series in Britain) from Acorn Media, there is absolutely no drop-off in the intensity of this factor.


Produced in 1985 – 86, each show is actually nearly an hour long, though still shot on PAL videotape throughout and like a BritCom.  Nothing like this had ever been done on American TV, and now that digital High Definition has arrived, it never will.  Prunella Scales is Mapp, and Geraldine McEwan is Lucia, who is just coming out of her shell after some not-so-happy events.  The match-up of the two living in better society is interesting and as compared to something like The Golden Girls, feels like Masterpiece Theater, and that says something considering Golden Girls was the best hit comedy series of the 1980s pretty much.  The episodes in these sets are as follows:


Set One:


1)     The Village Fete

2)     Battle Stations

3)     The Italian Connection

4)     Lobster Pots

5)     The Owl & The Pussycat


Set Two:


6)     Winner Take All

7)     Change & Change About

8)     Lady Bountiful

9)     Worship

10)  Au Reservoir



To add to the cleverness, the show and its teleplays by Gregory Savory play with the idea of class division in the country and how petty certain elite(ists) can be.  To many Americans, this would go right over their heads, but others will get it and be impressed by how constantly rich in subtleties it can be.  This smartly outlines the ways these characters are motivated to take positions against each other and could almost be compared to Dynasty, minus the soap-opera antics, overblown set-ups and more explicit sarcasm.  Otherwise, the catfighting between people who have has more common denominators than one might first consider.  Donald McWhinnie directed all the shows in these sets and once you start watching them, especially concurrently, you realize the deliberate pacing set in play that is pulled off.  This is not comedy of the “stuffy” kind either.  This is not easy when you are trying to do so much, but the cast is very up to all of it.  The terrific Nigel Hawthorne also stars.


The 1.33 X 1 full screen image is in good shape for its age, though the limits of the analog PAL format can only be avoided so much.  Either way, Acorn Media has lucked out in getting copies that are in fine shape.  They are clean and with little trouble otherwise.  The production design is also impressive, considering this is still a comedy.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is simple, but clean, clear and effective enough.  Jim Parker supplies the score, but this is not a show filled with much music.  The resulting combination makes this seem newer a production than it actually is, and the show holds up well, set in the 1920s.  Extras are the same on both sets, including biography and booklist text on author/creator E.F. Benson, and cast filmographies.  A text frame on The Tilling Society, for fans of the author, is also included, though not noted on either box.  There is room for more, but it is better than nothing, like we have seen on several U.S. sitcom box sets.  Mapp & Lucia is a treat for even the biggest British TV fans who thought they had seen it all.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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