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4.8 out of 5 stars325
4.8 out of 5 stars
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There once was a time when it appeared that American comedies such as "Roseanne", "Malcolm in the middle", plus cartoons like the Simpson's and Family Guy were essentially wiping the floor with some of the bland domestic comedy from the UK such as the rather lazy "My family". Then out of the blue came the brilliant "Outnumbered" first shown on the BBC in 2007. This series is special in so many ways, with razor sharp scripts from Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin which move away from the terrible smug cosiness of some sitcoms and emphasize the sheer dysfunctional nature of families, which is of course offset by those special moments when it all appears to make sense. Add to this the extra dimension of experimentation present in "Outnumbered" with the children using elements of improvisation and the world viewed through their own unique "lenses" and this is a show which screams quality and brilliance. Set in the West London home of the "Brockman's" we have Hugh Dennis and Claire Skinner as the overburdened father and mother who are expertly cast and both brilliantly able to strike the right note of incredulity, frustration and outright defeat. The couples household arguments about the right way to stack cups in a dishwasher or the rules of writing appointments on a calendar are mini classics in their own right. Skinner's edgy relationship with her awful new age sister Angela is joy to watch especially in the Wedding episode while Dennis's portrait of a disillusioned history teacher and emerging grumpy old man ("Oh its the bin men, it must be a leap year") is pitched perfect. The fight at the tennis match in Series 3 nearly required a defibrillator in this household we laughed so much.

As for the children all three are superb. The character of Jake (Tyger Drew-Honey) is less frenetic than the younger children but is a beautifully observed portrait of a boy moving into his teenage years raked with doubts/angst but equally a huge obsession with girls and a nice line in sarcasm. Ben (Daniel Roche) is an essentially a monster! His specialities include the use and adaptation of any domestic implement as a weapon, telling the most horrific/surreal lies, inventing hypothetical scenarios usually around who can rack up the highest body count and ripostes to die for. When warned about "crying wolf" by his mother his response is that "if you're going to talk to me about lying, there are no wolves around here. We're in London don't forget". Nothing explains his character better than the opening line of his manifesto for election to the school council which states that "you should vote for me because I can eat live worms". There are occasions when his bad behaviour approaches a level of worrying sophistication not least his cry of "strangers" when his father tries to discipline him in a gift shop on a family outing, and describing his 5 year old sister as a "lezza" and a "toss piece".

Finally there is Karen (Ramona Marquez) who is by any standards a towering comedy genius. Her spoof "toy" adaptations and staging of popular TV shows such as Pop Idol, Britain's Got Talent and Hells Kitchen are sublime. She treats her Aunty Angela with a withering contempt which always manages to stay just about on the right side of politeness such as when the Angela with her blissed out hippy morals presents Karen with a dream catcher and her contemptuous response in that floaty voice is "I had a dream about weasels eating me last night and I don't want that one again". And then there are her penetrating and endless questions which effectively destroy grown ups such as "what's a mother fudger?" and sinister statements uttered with a charm and poise that could literally melt icebergs ("Mummy said she's going to hunt you down, and kill you like dogs"). I cannot let the moment pass without mentioning the funeral oration for the mouse trapped by her mother which is one of the truly great TV moments of recent years. Let Karen speak for herself on this -

"Brethren we are gathered here in the bosom of Jesus to say goodbye to this mouse, killed before its time. We have given it cheese and bread for its journey to heaven, or at least if it goes to hell, it'll have cheese on toast....Dust to dust, for richer or for poorer, in sickness or in health, may the force be with you because your worth it. Amen and out"

If you have never seen "Outnumbered" my jealously and envy is truly boundless. Great comedy is often about recognition and it also provides consolation. At its unsentimental core "Outnumbered" manages to strike chords which resonate with the hysterical frustrations of everyday experience. In these three brilliant series and the wonderful Christmas special (look out for Karen's priceless first encounter with a Scottish accent) you will find enough comedy base metals to start a gold rush and depart this earth in sheer hysterical contentment. This is observational comedy of such sheer class and finely drawn moments that we will experience only rarely and in the words of the old cliché it's "worth the price of the license fee in its own right". Your Christmas presents worries are already over.
1313 comments151 of 156 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 7 January 2011
I had watched the 3rd series of Outnumbered on tv, and really enjoyed it so thought that this box set would be brilliant. I was definitely not disappointed! The set is split into 5 discs (including the Christmas special), and there are special features on a few of the disks, like unshown scenes and interviews. If you want a good giggle at some light hearted comedy I would definitely recommend this set, it gives the whole family a laugh!
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on 7 March 2012
Saw a few episodes of this on TV and decided to get the whole box set as I found it so funny. Interesting to see as they all grew up and the difference is quite marked for Karen. By the end of the last series it seemed to me it had gone as far as it could and the "cuteness" and clever remarks had lost their freshness. The box set is a great way to capture what made it such a special series. The great logical responses to the adults comments and the literal understanding was hilarious and really made you think about how ambiguous some of our statements are to kids. Another great British production - cannot see how an American copy of this can come close to the clever dialogue the Brits write and the other great thing about this series is it is partially improvised - sometimes I wonder how Pete keeps a straight face at some of the things the kids say. A great series to have and one that should be watchable for many years to come.
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on 24 January 2011
My husband and I just love this series - it is sheer genius. The kids are brilliant given that they have to ad lib most of the time and the adult's response is amazing. This will go down as being an all time classic I'm sure - could watch over and over again.
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on 16 February 2015
I bought this for my wife. She has been a big fan of the series, right from its beginning and the 5 stars are from her. It is no exaggeration to say that she loves all of the children's characters, particularly that of Karen, the youngest. For myself, I find the children more than a little irritating but I do like the characters of the mother and father. I like the way that have to navigate, not always successfully, all that family and modern life throws at them whilst still trying to be "good parents". They are both well acted, particularly so by Claire Skinner.

However, this is not the main reason I have written this review. Either you like the series or you don't. There is not much that I can say that will change your mind. No, the main reason for writing this review is to say if you buy this THEN DO NOT BUY THE CHRISTMAS SPECIALS. Why? Well because all 3 of them are included with this. Not only have Amazon not included this in their description of the product they also include the Christmas Specials in "people who have bought this also bought" section and they offer one of the Christmas Specials in their suggested bundle!

As you may guess I bought the Christmas Specials as well as this. As they were a Christmas present I was able to return them during the Amazon post Christmas moratorium on unwanted gifts - which was good - but I still had to pay the return postage!
0Comment15 of 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This is a set of all three series so far (plus the Christmas Special) of this fantastically good comedy show. I wholeheartedly agree with "Red on Black's" excellent review above: every episode is just terrific, with hilarious comedy and some very shrewd observations on family life. The great, relentlessly logical Karen, the hyper-energetic and bonkers but utterly believable Ben and the quieter but no less brilliant Jake are all great comic creations. The parents are also completely believable, sympathetic and engaging while displaying all the normal human flaws, and the excellent Samantha Bond is fabulous as Sue's insufferably smug sister Angela.

Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin are two of our very best comedy writers, and their writing in Outnumbered is absolutely top-class. They have the ability to produce real belly-laughs while also showing great understanding and a genuine affection for their characters, and this bedrock of recognisable people and situations beneath the comedy is one of the things which makes Outnumbered exceptionally good and immensely popular.

The other thing is the performances, of course. The young actors improvise a good deal of the dialogue, which makes it incredibly lifelike because they talk like people their own age rather than adults in children's bodies as so often happens, and they do it fantastically well. Claire Skinner and Hugh Dennis also turn in great comic performances while remaining the programme's solid centre. Their unflashy excellence is a real joy.

If you already know Outnumbered, you won't need me to recommend this set - although I do, very strongly - and if you haven't yet discovered Outnumbered, there's a real treat in store for you here. It's brilliant.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 December 2014
I got into 'Outnumbered' during the latter series and when I watched repeats on the telly, I wondered why I didn't see it before. I now have the box set (series 1-5) and I watch this a fair bit. The Brockmans are easy to like and relate to and the kids are amazing. I like the fact that this show is part-unscripted as it gives it a bit more of a 'real' feeling. Enjoyable and recommended to anyone who likes 'Outnumbered' and does not have any of the previous DVDs or to anyone who likes TV comedy with a bit of a difference.
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on 14 January 2011
This series is one of the funniest ever on TV, anyone who has children can identify with every line of this brilliantly written programe.A not to be missed DVD set.
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on 2 September 2014
This show is based around Brockmans, a couple and their extremely intelligent and funny children who constantly outnumber and outwit them. You have Jake, the oldest child who is very sarcastic, then you have Ben who is very hyperactive. Then you have Karen, the youngest child, and in my opinion the cleverest whom constantly outwits her parents.

The best episodes are in the first 3 series. Lots of the scenes are improvised, so the young actors/actresses can make alot of their dialogue up. This makes alot of the scenes very natural and free flowing. One of my favorites scenes is in the first series, when Karen (aged around 4/5) asks her mum if she can keep a nit as a pet. So funny!

A really funny comedy.
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on 10 January 2011
I purchased this as a present and I am pleased to report that it was very well received. Most pleased
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