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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > British TV > Butterflies - Series One (BritCom/Acorn DVD)

Butterflies – Series One


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



In 1978, a few years before Margaret Thatcher, Butterflies was an interesting hit British comedy where an old-fashioned father (Geoffrey Palmer) feels outnumbered by his two sons (Andrew Hall & Nicholas Lyndhurst) and wife (Wendy Craig), all of whom are unhappy with each other.  The boys are part of the counterculture and their mother Ria feels like she is not part of anything.  The boys are always out, the husband emotionally unavailable, leaving the door potentially open to lonely and interested Leonard (Bruce Montague).  He met Ria by chance at a restaurant where she was dining alone.  Will she betray her husband, or has he already failed their marriage?


Acorn Media has issued all six (untitled) episodes for the first season/series and it is a show that holds up well despite its age.  This is very well written, cast and acted, with the right kind of comic timing for subject matter that is more serious than the usual fare.  The laugh track is therefore not as prominent and creator Carla Lane rightfully wanted to take the situation comedy form into a more mature direction.  The result is a very smart, funny show that deserved its success.  Palmer went on to James Bond and the series As Time Goes By (both not coincidentally with Judy Dench), while Lyndhurst went on to the terrific spy send up The Piglet Files (reviewed elsewhere on this site).  He is a natural comic actor who is always great and is totally believable here. 


The 1.33 X 1 full frame image is from the PAL analog video it was shot on and the source material looks good for its age.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is a stereo boosted from the original broadcast monophonic sound that sounds good, and that is a variation of Dolly Parton’s hit Love Is like A Butterfly with Claire Terry.  Rock fans know her for her vocal contributions to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon.  Extras include a 16 X 9 anamorphically enhanced interview (11:13) with creator Lane, text biographies of the cast and text notes.  U.S. TV has never had a sitcom quite like this, and what those networks have offered since the 1980s has been insanely regressive, with NBC failing to translate it into a U.S. hit with an awkward pilot that did not get picked up.  No wonder British sitcoms are always hot sellers in the U.S. DVD market.  Butterflies has its own niche in BritComs and its popularity lies in still being ahead of its time.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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