First of all, Im not who As Time Goes By is aimed at. Im twenty years old and have been a fan since I was 11 , when I stumbled over an episode from series seven. Over the next few weeks i tuned in and was extremely disappointed when at the end of that series they said another series would follow, NEXT YEAR!
Since then I have been a fan, (I was too young to enjoy the first few series as I would have just started primary school when they first aired) as soon as the box set was released I snapped them up.
I was quite unfamiliar with the beginning of the Jean and Lionel story, how they got back into contact after 38 years parted.
Sets up allot of the back story to the couple, and some of Judy's history which gets left behind in later series. Philip Bretherton (Alistair) is funny from the word go, especially good at the party (which also has a lovely bit of interplay between jean and Lionel surrounded by what they call "children") and when trying to seducing Jean in Norwich. The series ends nicely with Alistair fancying Jean and Judy making eyes at Lionel, to solve the situation Jean results to a little matchmaking of her own.
Starts with shooting the front cover of "my life in Kenya" some of the storylines to do with Lionel's book could be boring if gone into too deeply, however the writers keep the balance by (in episode 2) going back to Lionel and Jean's relationship, and hinting at maybe the beginnings of Judy's and Alistair's relationship ? In series two we meet four characters that bring so much to future series. Firstly Lionel's jovial father Rocky (charming played by Frank Middlemass), impervious Mrs. Bale (Janet Henfrey), twittering Penny, Jean's sister in law (Moyra Fraser ) and Penny's hen pecked husband Stephen (Paul Chapman). Watch out episode 5: Misunderstandings , where Jean and Lionel spend a weekend at Penny's and Stephens.
Series three is crammed full of goodies. To begin, Lionel and Jean are having a weekend away in Paris, a lovely constructed episode, plus the absurdity of seeing Lionel deal with the French. Next is Rocky's marriage to Madge (mischievously played by the late great Joan Sims). Due to Rocky's marriage Lionel suggest that he and Jean should start living together. Which is far from straight forward, this story line provides more back ground story on both leads and helps you warm to Lionel (as his behaviour at Rocky's wedding can make you irritated with him). Also in this series Lionel begins writing the mini series and Jean opens the second "type 4 you" branch introducing the characters of Mike Barbosa ( American television executive , a running joke in the program is that on one really understands what Mike's job title means, and I don't think its ever mention what Mike does exactly only that Lionel needs to impress him), Sally Curtis ( the scarily perfect manger of "Type for you" second branch) and the funniest of all Gwen Flack ( the replacement sectary for Lionel who can't stop talking) There is a storyline in the end episode which is not followed up about Rocky's not living for much more than a year. Bob Larby or Colin Bostock-Smith decided or was told to keep Frank Middlemass character in evidently, Im not complaining Rocky's is a good character. But the inconstancy in the writing is a shame.
Sandy joins the household a clever move on writers part giving Judith someone to talk to. Most of this series centres on firstly getting rid of Gwen Flack and their Wedding. The contrast between Lionel's wedding arrangements and Jean's full blown battle plans is hilarious. The only episode Im not that fond of, is the one with Eric in, it's not a bad episode I just think its placing in the series jars a little bit, being straight after the wedding and would have done better in a later series, but that's just my opinion. The final episode is a bitter sweet, although funny you realise what a hash the Americans have made of Lionel's script. I read some where this storyline was taken form Bob larby's own experiences of dealing with American television ? Anyhow it's a great four series.
Ok so Jean and Lionel have got married ...where can there story go now? Well it's true they have pretty much come all the way in relationship terms, but there is Judy and Alistair to follow and Sandy.
Series five starts with Lionel and Jean setting off to the county to use the house in Hampshire for the first time, the vist doesn't go quite to plan resulting in becoming part of a gang ( look out for Leslie Philips wife playing Glenys). In Episode 2 we meet someone we have heard so much about Lionel's wife Margaret! A bold move by Bob Larby after writing so many astonishing details about Margaret it would have been easy to make here one of those characters you never see like, Captain Mainwaring wife. A lot of the rest of the series centres around the house in Hampshire introducing us to Lol Ferris(brilliantly accented Tim Wylton). and his six brothers I think highlight of the series is when Penny is convinced she is dieing, and poor Stephen. The series ends on a high note again down in Hampshire.
Contains a little more discord within Jean and Lionel's relationship , first with Lionel trying to track down Sandy's stalker and secondly with Jean facing up to retirement. Episode three where Lionel and Jean decide not to let Penny get a word in edge ways is very funny while in the back ground Alistair tries to win Judy back, only finally achieving winning back by bluff ! Penny and Stephen get two outings in this series, when after the dinner party they come to look at the house next door to Jean and Lionel's! The series ends with Jean now retired and bored, while the rest of them try and surprise her with a holiday. Also policeman Harry makes his entrace into the As Time Goes By family in series six. A lovely collection of storylines to form series six.
Series seven get off to a flying start, with a gem of an episode which must have (although im sure Bob Larby will tell me otherwise) written it's self called Pardon? Where Jean, Judy (once again been temped into dating Alistair again) and Sandy (dating policeman Harry, although beginning of tiring of his love of sport) become aware of Lionel's lost of hearing, and struggle to break the news to Lionel. A peach of an episode, full of character driven humour, other episodes within the series include; Jean meeting up with an old flame James Penny, where Lionel fined the tables are turned and he becomes jealous. Episode 3 and Hardcastles gain new neighbours causing all manner of agonizing for Jean, and various frantic antics as she endeavours to cover up her curiously. Rocky and Madge assist the Lionel, Jean, Judi, Alistair and Sandy in throwing a party for residents of a local old folk's home, and embark on cheering up an old curmudgeon. Series also contains the customary trip down to the house in Hampshire and another visit from the barmy Steve and Penny.
The series culminates in Sandy and Judith both having relationships troubles and Jean worrying for them while Lionel try's to not get evolved. A good solid series, not my person favourite but I wouldn't be without it.
And the Girls (Judy and Sandy) are a bit dejected, Sandy having got fed up with always coming second to Rugby in Harrys affections, decided enough was and broke things off. Judith on the other hand has just rejected Alistair proposal of marriage, his reasons for wanting to marry Judith, being to have a port in the storm and stop him from ending up like his old university pal. Jean feeling for the girls, entreats Lionel to think of someway of raising the girls spirits, the next day brings Alistair to see Li about going to Japan to promote "to promote my life in Kenya". While Alistair is there Lionel seeks advice on how to cheer up the girls, Jean arrives also, delighted that the men are trying to help the girls. When Judy arrive back home early, Jean terrified of being accused of meddling in her daughter affairs, she quickly lies that Lionel has deeply person problem that he has to talk about to Alistair (to account for he presents in the house). Alistair helps by adding it's a guy thing.... and so starts a very farcical episode of as time goes by. I have to say that this is one of my favourite episodes, with so much confusion, intermixed with Jean ready lies and Lionel's bafflement at the centre, its not too be missed.
Other episodes include; when a supposedly stray dog follows Lionel home and Alistair begins to ask Sandy out rather than Judy, Lionel walks in on Sandy in the bath and causes Jean to look at building a extension in a wonderful honest episode that tackles a lost of confidence and facing growing old. Steve and Penny return from Holiday in Spain announcing there are going to move out there, Lionel worried about his money situation decides to sell the house in Hampshire only trouble is telling Lol and Mrs Bale . And finally Jean feels she is getting left behind and so decides to go on the internet. Series eight has some really cracking episodes that bring the series back on form, plus the on going storys of Judy and Sandy's troubled love lifes, which are carried through the series.
And wedding bells are in the air, well there are eventually once Alistair has figured out why Judy doesn't accept to marry him. And yet once accepted and a date is set, Alistair is far from happy as he begins to suffer from panic attacks, confiding only in Lionel who does his best to slow Alistair down. The Gang decamps down to the house in Hampshire for the wedding but will Alistair be able to make it down the aisle? Read more ›