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The 'Difficult' Third Series...
on 22 October 2004
Plenty of media forms and their artists cite the 'third' installment of their journey's to be the most challenging. The third album/series/film tends to be the make or break. And as you can probably guess from the five stars, it made the Trotters.
Series three is, in this humble narrators opinion, the very best of Only Fools. For sure there are better episodes; the nuclear fall-out shelter, the seance, the holiday to Benidorm and of course, the chandilier and wine bar episodes. But what makes series three stand out is that it has by far and away the greatest concentration of episodes. Whereas other 'Fools series will dip or fall flat, this series is the real gem with consistant episodes all guarenteed to make you howl with laughter.
Much of this is down to the cast, now perfectly gelled and bouncing off each other. The plots are marvellous and ambitious as well; observe Del challenging a psychopath to an imaginary game of snooker "shall we say...a fiver a frame?" and the brilliant but haunting storyline of Rodney falsely accused of rape by a demented middle aged woman called 'Blossom'. It is when you really think about these storylines that you realise how close to the line Sullivan occasionally pushed what was (in effect) a harmless comedy.
Jason and Lyndhurst are predictably flawless throughout the series, but the real star for me (mainly because he isn't with us anymore) is Lennard Pearce. As lovable, dopey Grandad he comes into his own in the plots instead of being merely background laughter such as in 'Homesick', where he feigns exhaustion to try and get the Trotters into better accomodation, but he can still deliver killer lines out of nowhere. "What you got, a Wendy house?" he asks Rodney, after Rod lies about his new self catering business venture on £200, and after Del and Rodney exchange views on the ethics of fishing for money he informs Rodney curtly that it isn't stealing at all..."it's poachin'". As good as Merryfield (Uncle Albert) was, he was always the butt of the Trotters dialogue and could not have delivered such killer lines in the same way as Pearce.
Only Fools series three rates in my mind as the top of the pile, and anyone who wishes to pursue their intake of the sitcom on the back of a couple of scattered episodes could do much worse than buy this DVD.