on 20 June 2002
Finally the third series of the much acclaimed TV series of Jeeves and Wooster is on DVD, and on the whole its worth the wait. This series finds Berty and Jeeves on the other side of the great pond together with their usual trials and tribulations in life. Some great shots of NY during the early part of the 20th century accompanied with plenty of period background music which go towards really capturing the era.
Great to see this series now on DVD but the quality of the DVD is somewhat disappointing with a poorer picture and sound quality than series 1 & 2. - shame, but none the less a must for all Jeeves and Wooster fans.
The dim, cheerful aristocrat and his impeccable manservant find that America is just as troublesome as England in the third season of "Jeeves and Wooster." While the American stories lack the usual all-out hilarity, the second half of the season is pure comedy from start to finish.
With Aunt Agatha determined to marry him to the horrible Honoria, "Bertie Sets Sail" for America. But domineering Lady Malvern wants Bertie to babysit her creepy son and keep him out of mischief -- except Monty is determined to live a Paris-Hiltonesque life.... every night. Bertie tries to escape to the country, only to find that his pal Tuppy is besotted with one of Bertie's ex-fiances.
The next is definitely "A Full House." Bicky wants to live in Manhattan, without his ducal dad knowing. And Rocky wants to live in the country, but his aunt wants him to "experience New York." Ever the loyal friend, Bertie volunteers Jeeves and his apartment to keep up the dual ruses. But when both the duke and the aunt show up unannounced, how can Jeeves and Bertie keep them from running into each other?
Aunt Agatha sends theater enthusiast Cyril Bassington-Bassington to New York, so Bertie can babysit him. The problem is, Cyril throws away the "no theatres" letter on the boat. As a result he ends up getting a part in an off-Broadway play, and Bertie happily follows the successful show all across America. But when Cyril attacks a sponsor's son, the entire play may go under... with Aunt Agatha in the audience.
Going back to England doesn't help matters, since Aunt Agatha insists that Bertie go to Deverill Hall and woo Gertrude Winkworth (who is also a pal's girlfriend). His pal Gussie is also required to present himself to Gertrude's mother. But after Gussie is arrested for hitting a cop, Bertie has to impersonate him. And Gussie has to impersonate Bertie. Of course, nothing can end well...
Scandalous memoirs are "Hot off the Press" when Bertie's new fiancee Florence announces that Sir Watkyn Basset, her uncle, is publishing a scandalous memoir. She insists that Bertie steal the book, or else. Even worse, wannabe Nazi Roderick Spode also wants Bertie to steal the book. And if things don't get straightened out by Jeeves, Bertie might end up marrying the soppy Madeleine Basset...
Finally, Bertie's always-in-love pal becomes "Comrade Bingo" when he falls for a comely Communist, and blackmails his uncle into providing money for the wedding. Unfortunately Roderick Spode is also in the area with the Blackshorts, causing a nasty clash between the Nazis and the Communists. Meanwhile, Aunt Dahlia is ordering Bertie to steal a hideous painting, not realizing that Spode is also trying to steal it.
The world of PG Wodehouse is full of domineering aunts, dumb young men with lots of past engagements, aspiring Hitlers, intelligent butlers and dim socialites who never seem to clue in that their attentions are unwanted. And the TV series did it justice, in a manner that Wodehouse himself would have been proud of -- good acting, clever scripting, and goofy direction.
The first half of the season is quite funny, but somehow taking Jeeves and Bertie off their native soil depletes some of the humor. Jeeves out on the town is a bit funny, but it seems rather out of character to see him smoking cigars and partying with actresses. But when Bertie returns to England in disgrace, it all returns. There are all sorts of hilarious scenes like Gussie attacking a bouncer, Madeleine reciting gooey poetry and the safe being blown up.
The cast is still in flux, with new actors in several roles like Stiffy, Bingo and Florence. But the core roles -- Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry -- are the same, and both are magnificent. Fry is quiet, witty and superior as the intelligent Jeeves, while Laurie gives Bertie a hapless, optimistic side that no other actor has managed.
The third season of "Jeeves and Wooster" suffers a bit compared to the first two, but is still cleverer and funnier than virtually any other comedy series. Ever so goosey goosey goosey...
This is very much in the same style as the first two series, but not quite as good, or subtle, or consistent.
The big difference is that J&W leave the tranquility of England behind for three episodes, so you may miss Totleigh Towers, Madeleine Bassett and Gussie Fink-Nottle if you're addicted to them.
The thing I like most about Jeeves and Wooster is the setting in England, so I wasn't as keen on this series, though half of it is still set back in Blighty.
And I think that some of the stories are getting a bit silly (sillier than usual that is), though not as silly as in the fourth series.
But having said that, this disc is really a must if you've enjoyed the first two.
on 14 January 2001
I was quite dissapointed by the first of the two tapes in the set, as in my opinion the strength of Woodhouse has always been the characterisation of the 'grotesques' in English society - across the class spectrum. The Americans portrayed in this series are done so with little punch, and the characters seem peppered in merely to provide an 'across the pond appeal'. I am a fan - really I am - of Woodhouse and of the other tapes in this series, but the first in this box set failed to get that sense of social claustraphobia that Berty et.al need in order to get in and out of pickles. The second tape returns to Blighty and the claustraphobia returns - the characters are endowed with an appropriate package of nervous ticks and affectations. Hoorah. Buy it , it's worth it, but if you only buy one - buy another one.