The Piglet Files – Set One (British TV/Spy spoof/BFS DVD/NTSC Region One)
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C- Episodes: B-
PLEASE NOTE: This series (with this edition
just about out of print) has also been issued in England
from Network U.K.
and you can read more about it at this link:
The late 1980s was a time that the Spy genre was in
trouble. Timothy Dalton was Roger
Moore’s successor as James Bond, but it was not clicking, and a second TV
version of Mission: Impossible was a disaster.
They were especially affected by the writer’s strike, then The Cold War
ended. In all this, a new spoof of
secret agents was launched on TV in late 1989 and went by unnoticed. That’s a shame, because The Piglet Files is better than expected and holds up well
considering how dated the situation is now.
Nicholas Lyndhurst is the title agent, Peter Chapman, who
gets his job through The Peter Principle.
He’s a good guy, but not the brightest agent MI-5 ever had. Since he is just qualified enough to keep his
job and with no one available quick enough to replace him, off he goes on high
One of the reasons the show holds up is that the humor is
put just ahead of the Spy world, which is why the dated Soviet situations are
still funny. Paul Minnett and Brian
Leveson found a great little niche here to make this show work. Chapman is not Inspector Clouseau or Maxwell
Smart, so we do not see a repeat of the oblivious, funny spy. That also makes it also hold up well
post-Austin Powers. He is also at least
as likable. Clive Francis, from the Sharpes mini-series and still best remembered
as the replacement lodger for Malcolm McDowell in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971
classic A Clockwork Orange is a hoot
as his boss. John Ringham, Steven Law
and ‘Allo ‘Allo! Veteran Paul Cooper
are also a plus among an exceptional cast.
episodes are meant to fit half-hour slots and are as follows:
A Question Of Intelligence
A Room With A View
The Iceman Cometh (with a very big laugh)
Now You See It
A Private Member’s Bill
The Beagle Has Landed
You do not have to be a spy fan to get the laughs, but the
more you know of this era of the genre, the funnier it gets. Adding to the nuttiness is all of those Cold
War-era things many have forgotten, handily in the back of your mind for laughs
again. The producers could have never
expected that, but as the rest of this series comes out on DVD, people will
discover just how good it was. It
deserves a second chance.
The 1.33 X 1 full frame, color image is shot on analog PAL
video and looks good for its age. Even
the shooting and editing is funny. The
Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is clear and also good for its age, including
appropriate music for the shows by Rod Argent and Peter Van-Hook. The extras include a few bio/filmographies
and a solid history of MI-5 itself that seems to have also been on three boxed
sets of The Sandbaggers. We can only hope to see more extras in the
The more you watch and the more this show sets up its
characters and situations, the funnier each show gets. That is good TV and makes it one of the best
sitcoms from anywhere in the 1980s or 1990s.
I had some real laughs here, and though I am a fan of the genre,
everyone can find something funny in The
Piglet Files. We’ll cover the next
sets when we return.
- Nicholas Sheffo