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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > British > Barbara (Brit-Com)

Barbara (British TV sitcom)


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



The housewife who speaks her mind is reborn again in Barbara, a new British sitcom that is not always strong on material, but makes up for it on performance.  Gwen Taylor is the title character, and even the placement of music is similar to the more recent American sitcoms of the 1980s and 1990s.  This is smarter, though, and carried off with more energy and comic timing.  It is good enough that some PBS affiliates have picked it up, yet it is not as British as you would expect, and that is not a bad thing in this case.  No one, including the view, is degraded the way they are in current U.S. sitcoms and the rest of the cast (Sam Kelly, Mark Benton, Sherrie Hewson, Benedict Standiford and Coronation Street’s Madge Hindle and Elizabeth Carling) help keep the rapid fire dialogue going.  This is exceptional chemistry for a Sitcom, especially these days.  This is not screwball comedy, but it scratches that surface sometimes.


The first nine episodes are as follows:












Another refreshing thing about Barbara herself is that she is for real, not dishing out shallow one-liners and acting like she knows it all.  She is still vulnerable enough.  As far as such shows go, I have not seen anything this watchable since the early seasons of the now-strange-to-watch Gimme A Break, when the late Nell Carter had Dolph Sweet around (he passed away during it’s first run) and she was singing the original, angry theme song.  For all the comedies that have come to the U.S. form England, Barbara is one of the better ones.  I don’t know why I had not heard of it before, because it would fit any Brit-Com schedule and fans should check it out.


The full frame PAL videotaped image looks good, having recently been taped.  The material is very clean and a pleasure to watch.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is not with any surrounds, which is surprising for this day and age, but it is recently recorded and it shows.  There are no extras on any of the three DVDs, except “wise words from women” – a text section.


Another problem with sitcoms is that they are afraid of being stupid in smart situations, especially since most of them do not start there in the first place.  Barbara is an old-fashioned type show that takes place now, so if you miss how enjoyable TV comedy used to be, you have a DVD set to treat yourself with.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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