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Great series, slightly shoddy DVDs
on 27 July 2009
Episode 5 of series 1 has been cut.
This is baffling. Two cuts of about fifteen seconds total. Two jokes cut short, two scenes ruined. Why? It's not as if they were even the slightly outdated jokes - just the one where Reggie says "shush" to an owl when he's trying to sleep in the van, then the one where CJ dismisses the "crank" note, before changing his mind and taking it more seriously.
It's like the bad old days of movies on TV, where stations cut for time. Only, it doesn't even make that amount of sense. This episode was complete and uncut on the old VHS release, so why isn't that the case here?
As far as the rest of the collection goes, it's good enough. The first series is quite possibly the single greatest - and most subversive - sitcom ever to be broadcast on BBC1. The second series drops the ball a little as far as focus, pacing and purpose go, but it's still better than pretty much any of its contemporaries.
The third... well, the third's very much of its time. The jokes still work, Rossiter's performance is still magnetic and winning, but the basic concept behind it has aged badly and is unlikely to have any real relevance to modern viewers' lives.
The 1990s', post-Rossiter series, The Legacy of Reginald Perrin, is awful, and the perfect demonstration of just how brilliant a performer the show's deceased star was: it's obvious from the first moments of the first episode of Legacy that Rossiter was previously the glue holding the entire thing together, his performance the one thing that lifted it above predictable, dull, cheap catchphrase comedy and made the show something special. Without his presence, it fails dismally.
The addition of the related Comedy Connections show and the Christmas sketch is welcome, but the BBC are missing the ball by failing to provide on their DVD releases the kind of extras that classic movie DVDs have enjoyed for some time, commentaries being the main one.
At the time of writing, this is listed at under £20. It's a bit of a bargain for that price and if you haven't seen the show before, I can't recommend it enough. However, the fact remains that the first series is the true classic here, and on this boxset, for whatever reason, it *isn't* truly complete.