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Category:    Home > Reviews > BritCom > TV Situation Comedy > British TV > Keeping Up Appearances – The Full Bouquet Special Edition (BBC DVD)

Keeping Up Appearances – The Full Bouquet Special Edition (BBC DVD)

 

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

 

 

Of all the BritComs imported from the U.K. to the U.S., Keeping Up Appearances (1990 – 95) has been one of the most successful and popular of all of them, up there with Are You Being Served? and As Time Goes By.  Good writing (from creator Roy Clarke, et al) and a well cast solid cast led by Patricia Routledge (Hetty Wainthrop Investigates) as the picky, obsessive-compulsive wife who wants to live like she is high society when the means are not there and the relatives and neighbors certainly are not either.

 

With the caste system politics of England, the dark joke that is the basis for the series is more obvious there than in the U.S., yet it translates into the people we know who are more able to admit indirectly how they identify with class division versus in the U.S., where people will find social and/or ethnic groups to identify themselves.  This is apparent from the main characters name, Hyacinth Bucket, but the last name (as if it were French?) is actually pronounced “bouquet” though it may be more like broken, plastic and/or wilted flowers.  She spends each show trying to move up, but unlike Ralph Kramden, status seems to mean more than money or luxury.

 

All 44 half-hour shows (though it seems like more for it being on TV all the time) and three TV specials are here on 9 DVDs and the BBC has reissued them in one of their very nice and convenient DigiPak books with a thin clear plastic “page” for each DVD.  Hyacinth would be thrilled.

 

The best thing that can be said is that there has not been an attempt to remake the show as a U.S. sitcom and the reason why is that this is so quintessentially British and would never directly translate into such a show unless it played like Driving Miss Daisy as a TV series.  It has a joy, charm and chemistry few other comedy TV shows have and long into the HD era, Keeping Up Appearances will hold up as a late peak of the BritCom.

 

 

The 1.33 X 1 image only varies slightly from DVD to DVD as the whole show was shot in analog PAL videotape, but it looks good enough overall and flaws are limited, while the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also in good shape for its age and audible enough for an older show, though later shows have simple stereo.  Extras are pretty good throughout, including several disc with funny outtakes and text cast bios, plus a profile of Routledge from “Funny Women”, The Kitty Monologues, a Comedy Connections piece on the show, Memoirs Of Hyacinth Bucket, Interviews with Routledge & Judy Cornwell, Pebble Mill interview with Routledge and Clive Swift and Second Chance Short : Exclusive U.K. commercial featuring Hyacinth & Elizabeth.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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