45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever Increasing Laughs
The recent purchase of the 'Complete Works'of Martin Bryce brought back to me just how superb this oft forgotten series actually was. The characters are brilliantly written by surely one of the best writing pairings ever of John Esmonde and Bob Larbey( The Good Life, Please Sir! etc.)and the acting comic genius.Richard Briers plays Martin, a man so in tune with his life...
Published on 5 July 2004 by keith livingstone
3 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT A COMEDY BUT GOOD DRAMA
There are so many reviews already for this product and the majority of people think this is the best comedy the BBC ever made. However I have an alternative opinion.
The show ran for four seasons during the 1980s. The basic premise, according to TV historians and other reviewers is that Martin Bryce, employee of Mole Vale Valves, and driver of a blue Dormobile...
Published on 16 Aug 2011 by Marcia
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever Increasing Laughs,
The recent purchase of the 'Complete Works'of Martin Bryce brought back to me just how superb this oft forgotten series actually was. The characters are brilliantly written by surely one of the best writing pairings ever of John Esmonde and Bob Larbey( The Good Life, Please Sir! etc.)and the acting comic genius.Richard Briers plays Martin, a man so in tune with his life that Stradovarius could have fashioned him. Ablely assisted by his long suffering but ultimatly loving wife Ann, played with great ability by Penelope Wilton, his life bounces from one catastrophe, in small letters, to the next. His misdoings usually involve his nemisis - the next door neighbour,Paul, a man who gets so far up Martins nose that a surgeon couldn't remove him. Peter Egan plays Paul with great gusto and you can tell he enjoys the part. Incidentally, Peter was actually recommended for the role by Richard Briers - excellent as a casting agent as well. The other strings on Martins fiddle are Howard and Hilda - Tweedledum and Tweedledee in pullovers - who aid and/or disrupt Martins way of life to his delight/disgust in the 26 episodes( plus a final heart-tugging finale)on four DVDs - A must buy item.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully observed and timelessly funny comedy; a must-buy,
The Main Feature: A delicious situation comedy – one of the earliest, one of the most oft-forgotten, but unquestionably one of the best. Richard Briers plays the pedantic, officious, but well-meaning Martin Bryce. He lives life in a Quiet English Way, personifies pieces of wood and nails, and views filing as art form. Actually, not art – that’d be a little too left wing - more a necessary accompaniment to life. Martin runs every society in The Close – from the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme to the Cricket Club – keeping him busy, in control and the centre of attention. That is, until Paul Ryman moves in next door. Paul is the original Neil Godwin to Martin’s David Brent; he’s everything Martin isn’t - a Cambridge Cricket Blue, effortlessly charming and has a seemingly infinite number of ‘mates’. It is around these unlikely neighbours that the series is based – with Martin’s long-suffering wife, Anne, somewhere in the middle. This is a wonderfully observed sitcom that’s as good the first time you curl up with it on a Friday night, as it is when you’re laughing at it for the twenty-third time on a drizzly Sunday afternoon. As with other great comedies, the premise is a simple one; a glimpse of ordinary people and the way they live their lives together. And that is largely from where Ever Decreasing Circles derives its power and timeless appeal; we all know a Martin, a Paul or an Anne – we may even have a little bit of them inside of us. Although naturally, Martins will do as Martin would, and not even think of admitting it.
Highlights: Writing that deftly shows how the boring bits in life can be funny too.
The ‘Vicars and Tarts Dance’ episode in Series 1, the ‘Cricket’ episode in Series 2 and the final 80 minute episode (shot two years after Series 4) showcase Ever Decreasing Circles at its very best – clever, witty, pacey and gently poignant.
Engaging, often beguiling characters – from the suave Paul, to Howard and Hilda who always wear matching clothes.
Overall Package/Extras: A fairly standard BBC adaptation to DVD that combines all the extras that accompany each of the separate series DVDs:
• A good 1989 ‘Wogan’ interview with Peter Egan that includes some outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage
• An interesting 15 minute exclusive interview with Richard Briers
• A mildly entertaining Christmas ‘Wogan’ feature with Egan, Wilton, Lebor (Howard) and Newman (Hilda)
A slight disappointment only because this is just the sort of Series where you’re dying to know more than you’re ever told.
The DVD comprises five disks; one per Series and one Extras disk. All are packaged in a fairly boring, standard plastic DVD case.
Verdict: Wonderfully observed and timelessly funny comedy - dare I say it, frequently better than much of The Good Life. A must-buy.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful warm comedy from superb performers,
By A Customer
I've been waiting for this literally for years! This DVD has the first 5 episodes of Ever Decreasing Circles. It is gentle and sometimes hilarious comedy from a cast that includes Richard Briers(The Good Life etc)as Martin Bryce. It works so well because we are all like the central character at times- pedantic, petty and fighting for recognition but also loyal, warm and keen to do the right thing.
The series is a wonderful view of middle-class England in the 1980s and was actually made around Billingshurst and Wisborough Green in Sussex.
The stories revolve around Martin Bryce who runs all the societies in his neighbourhood until a handsome and talented new neighbour (Cambridge and brilliant at everything) moves in next door.
I heartily recommend this DVD which comes with an interview with Richard Briers. I understand the second DVD is due out soon.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An under-rated gem of a series,
This series tends to get forgotten about, mainly being overshadowed by The Good Life - same writers, same lead actor. However, I think as a parody of suburban life in England and also as a comedic study of someone who is obsessive, it can't be beaten.
The characters are all very well rounded and the actors playing them are very good, particularly Richard Briers as Martin, Peter Egan as the suave sophisticated neighbour who flirts with Martin's wife Ann, and the dotty and dim Howard and Hilda.
Some jokes are overplayed, and while some episodes may not cover partcularly sophisticated plotlines, the acting and the spirit really raise this to a higher level of quality than people seem to remember.
The quality of the episode of the DVD are excellent, with fantastic pictures and sound. Also, the extras are well worth a look - especially the Did You See feature on Series Four.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another helping of Martin, Anne, Paul and "Howard and Hilda",
By A Customer
This review is from: Ever Decreasing Circles: The Complete Second Series [VHS] (VHS Tape)
The long-awaited second series of Ever Decreasing Circles, which contains seven episodes of this classic comedy.
Martin is still the only person in the close who does not think that his next-door-neighbour, Paul, is wonderful, and he fights a valiant but losing battle to try to convert the others to his way of thinking!
There is something very touching about Martin - he could come across as a bumptious, interfering busybody, but he is a kind man at heart, and his problems with Paul arise because he feels inferior.
In the first episode, Martin invites an old lady to tea, but turns up with a Dormobile full of them! Howard and Hilda pitch in to help prepare tea and entertain the visitors, but needless to say, it is Paul who is the biggest hit, providing them with a sing song and a free hairdo!
In other episodes, we see Martin desperately trying to win the snooker tournament, trying to find ways of not picking Paul for the cricket team, and dealing with Paul's Christmas house-guests who end up sleeping in Martin's house. There is an hilarious episode where a psychiatrist takes a professional interest in Martin - who thinks that Ann has the problem! Perhaps the biggest surprise in the series, though, is that it is Martin who comes up with the ideal solution when Ann needs more than housework to inspire her!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly written and brilliantly funny!,
Richard Briers is truly brilliant in this hilarious performance of a man living by routine. His alter ego, Peter Egan, is dashingly handsome and quick witted...a man every woman instantly falls in love with! The combination of these two hilarious characters makes for a really easy viewing and a bit of light hearted distraction from the trials and tribulations of real life.
Timeless, and with the capacity to be viewed time and time again....If you love the Goodlife or Only Fools and Horses, you will thoroughly enjoy this.I find myself smiling just writing about it!
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, magical and hilarious.,
Like all great comedy, Ever Decreasing Circles can stand repeated viewings and never pall. The characters and the ensemble playing of a memorably talented cast, combined with a supreme quality of writing, make this one of the great and unsung comedic gems of British Television.
If I have one slight quibble it would be the the BBC have only released the first 5 episodes and that there is little in the way of additional features on the DVD. If they only had more faith in the product perhaps more people would experience the sheer pleasure of British comedy of the highest order.
For me you can keep the Good Life, enjoyable though that was. It can only be the modest starter to a main course fit for comedy gourmets everywhere.
Superb; brilliant; more please - and quickly!
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a shame....,
This review is from: Ever Decreasing Circles: The Complete Fourth Series [DVD] (DVD)
this was the last series they did. What a shame that it only reached 52 in the top 100 best sitcoms as it certianly deserves better.
This DVD is the whole of series 4 PLUS on a seperate disc we have the final 80 minute episode recorded 2 years later. I thought the first 3 dvds were good value, but this one is the best of the lot. Buy it, or if you have none of the series' get the 4 disc box set and save heaps. One of my top 5 sit coms. It's great.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! (Three times),
By A Customer
This review is from: Ever Decreasing Circles - Series 2  [DVD] (DVD)
It's quite interesting that a character so annoying as Martin Bryce could be part of such a brilliant comedy. Ever Decreasing Circles is so cleverly written and has such wonderful characters like Howard and Hilda, that just by looking at them makes you want to laugh when you know what they're like. Even the smallest touches, like Howard and Hilda wearing the same clothes or Martin and his phone, make it something very special for everyone to enjoy. The story line, even if you can quite easily predict what will happen, will never fail to make you laugh. It's a wonderfully English comedy and when so rarely repeated on television, this DVD is an absolute must! The DVD is well worth the money even with no special features.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Martin is King of the Close - until Paul moves in next door!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Ever Decreasing Circles: Complete First series [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Fans of the 80s sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles are in for a treat - the whole of the first series on one video.
Martin is the uncrowned King of the Close - organising everybody's social life, chairing committees, and generally interfering with everything.
Paul Ryman moves in next door, and he is everthing that Martin isn't - good looking, witty, popular, clever, a Cambridge graduate who has played cricket at Lords. What makes it worse is that everybody - including Martin's long-suffering wife, Anne, thinks Paul is wonderful.
Martin is not sure whether to be suspicious because Paul is an unmarried hairdresser, or scandalised by the girl sunbathing topless in the garden.
In this first series, Martin is busy organising a demonstration and arranging a dance for charity - and Paul and his army of "mates" get the better of him without even trying!
Richard Briers portrays Martin beautifully, as a self-important, bumptious little man, with a surprisingly vulnerable side. Penelope Wilton is brilliant as Anne, and the programme would not be the same without "Howard and Hilda".
Whether you remember the original showing of this series or not, give this video a try.
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Ever Decreasing Circles: The Complete Second Series [VHS] by Richard Briers (VHS Tape - 2002)
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