Like so many reviewers here, I had waited a long time for this DVD set to be released, and was worried that it might not be as funny as I had remembered it being all those years ago. After slipped release dates and cancellations I stumbled upon the box set by accident and ordered it immediately. It was with some trepidation that I loaded up the first DVD. Would this be another case of nostalgia getting in the way of sub-par TV?
Not a bit of it. These two series and the Christmas special were both funnier and sadder than I had remembered them being, a genuinely touching mix of belly laughs and commentary on human nature. The characters have all been well described in other reviews, but Ralph Bates deserves special mention for his layered portrayal of John, as does his real-life son, who plays John's son. In fact, it is Toby who often comments on the absurdity of adult life from the outside, baffled as to the behaviour of those around him.
This set, then, is recommended without reservation. One could ask for more extras, but it is good enough to have a comedy this - what's the word? - funny available once again. John Sullivan, the writer, who died recently, deserves high praise for this, and I see it as some of his best and most wittily observed work. It puzzles me that this was barely mentioned in his obituaries. It may not have had the multi-series run of other comedies of his, but quality always outstrips quantity.
Watch this - you will long remember Kirk's comment to the lady with the unfortunate bodily problem, the tragic fate of Ralph's caravan, and many other things besides. Watch it through to the end - you would have to have a hard heart not to shed a tear at the end of the Christmas special when John, up to now dealing with his own isolation, realises (and we with him) that there has been somebody close at hand who has known what true loneliness means. Perfect.