Only Fools and Horses
is perhaps the last great and universally popular British sitcom. Series 4 reached 1985; Grandad has sadly passed on, to be replaced at Nelson Mandela House by Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield). Only Fools and Horses
improved with age and the fourth series was still confined to the half-hour format, is good but not vintage (that occurred during Delboy's "Yuppy" years). Episodes such as "It's Only Rock'n'Roll", in which Rodney joins a band, show all the failings sitcoms usually expose when getting to grips with such alien subject matter: the situations have yet to involve the full complement of the entire Nag's Head ensemble and there are still occasional disturbing racial references. However, Uncle Albert's introduction does bring the series up a notch, as his furtive brandy-swilling, yarn-spinning and doddery bungling swiftly get on Delboy and Rodney's wick (though he's not without some cleverly introduced pathos), while episodes such as "Watching the Girls Go By" and "As One Door Closes" build effectively up to the sort of big, laugh-out-loud final twists that would become the series' trademark.
On the DVD: full screen, no special features, sadly, except scene selection. --David Stubbs
Entire fourth series of the Peckham-based wheeler-dealer sitcom. In 'Happy Returns', Del (David Jason) is horrified to think that Rodney's (Nicholas Lyndhurst) new, nineteen-year-old girlfriend might well be the fruit of his youthful loins. 'Strained Relations' sees the Trotter clan gathered for Grandad's funeral (following the sad passing of actor Lennard Pearce in real life); but how keen will Del be to take in long-lost seafarer Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield)? In 'Hole in One', Albert tries to help the boys out when they don't have enough money for Grandad's headstone. 'It's Only Rock and Roll' sees Del taking over as manager of Rodney's recently-formed rock band, while in 'Sleeping Dogs Lie', the Trotter brothers agree to look after Boycie and Marlene's 'puppy', Duke, while they are away on holiday. 'Watching the Girls Go By' sees Rodney in need of a date for the Nag's Head party after making a rash bet with Mickey Pearce, and in 'As One Door Closes', Del finally gets the chance to become a millionaire when an old friend cuts him in on a lucrative business deal in Australia. But will there be a place in the new set-up for Rodney and Albert?