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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My life is now complete
I have waited for many years for this fantastic series to be issued, I have a very old video copy from when the series was first shown on TV. It was shown late at night and had a cult following. Robert Lindsey, David Threlfall and James Ellis are superb in this surreal adventure about night security men. I loved it when it was first shown and have waited for years to own...
Published on 10 Nov 2006 by Sile na Gig

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still good for a laugh, but...
... it didn't age too well. I can see why I liked it then, as why it bores me now...
Published 10 months ago by De Vlieger


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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My life is now complete, 10 Nov 2006
By 
This review is from: Nightingales [DVD] (DVD)
I have waited for many years for this fantastic series to be issued, I have a very old video copy from when the series was first shown on TV. It was shown late at night and had a cult following. Robert Lindsey, David Threlfall and James Ellis are superb in this surreal adventure about night security men. I loved it when it was first shown and have waited for years to own a decent copy of the two series. Thank you thank you my christmas is complete, as you can see I am very happy. I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS SERIES TOO HIGHLY TO ANYONE WHO ENJOYS A SOPHISTICATED AND CLEVER COMEDY.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brillant, 2 April 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Nightingales [DVD] (DVD)
In the dizzying heights of a high-rise tower block, three security guards while away the night shift in a variety of bizarre ways.
Writer Paul Makin had been an important member of the team on a number of Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran comedies, but here he scripted the strangest offering yet from their Alomo company. (Incidentally, they coined the name Alomo Productions to mean 'A Lo [for Laurence] Mo [for Maurice] production'.) Nightingales unashamedly did away with the traditional realism of most sitcoms to delight in a fantasy world of its own making. The three security guards were quite at home in this off-centre environment and took most of the surreal happenings in their stride. The eldest member of the trio was Sarge, a friendly, optimistic man with the air of a friendly uncle. He was completely happy with his position - unlike his cohorts, the articulate but frustrated Carter, and the dense and violent Bell. Carter wanted more out of life whereas Bell's disposition was naturally grumpy and easily provoked.
The heavyweight acting talent seemed to relish their parts, which, in all honesty, had more in common with characters from a Pinter play than a sitcom. Indeed, a recurring joke was the trio's obsession with this particular playwright. In the course of the two series the topics of conversation embraced a real (albeit friendly) werewolf, a murderous poisoning attempt, both the Pope and Harold Pinter leaving the trio's Christmas party on a tandem and (in the same episode) the failed attempts of our heroes to escape being drawn into a Christmas allegory.
Nightingales was a novel and commendable attempt to create something strikingly different within the sitcom format - a not wholly successful but brave and worthy effort nonetheless. Surprisingly, given its 'difficult' and dark nature, a US version was mooted. An unaired pilot episode, made in 1992, was written by Tony Sheehan, produced by Allan McKeown, directed by James Burrows and starred the British actor Trevor Eve. Predictably, it failed to find a buyer and no show developed.
Oh and the music sung at the end is by Robert himself.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 or 2 series?, 23 Jan 2006
By 
This review is from: Nightingales [DVD] (DVD)
I remember watching Nightingales on a Wednesday night before The Prisoner back in 1993. & Frankly it's been a lost classic that nobody ever heard of...until now! Surreal is the watchword, & it became the perfect comedy companion piece to set me up for #6. In fact I'd probably go so far as to say that this is the most cleverly scripted, off the wall programme since The Prisoner. How something this intelligent got made at all is beyond me, it certainly wouldn't now. Although David Threlfall (Shameless) & Robert Lindsay (My Family) are riding high so why not do another one?
I just can't work out if this is both series or just one, from the descriptions I've seen it's one and a half!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best sitcoms ever, 21 Mar 2006
By 
Pismotality (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nightingales [DVD] (DVD)
Nightingales is a remarkable sitcom, worthy of whatever praise people fling at it in these reviews; pile it on, I say. I have watched it periodically on video since its broadcast and can confirm that repeated viewing will not disappoint, though in writing this before viewing the DVD I can't speak about technical quality or extras.
So what sets Nightingales apart? Unlike some other would-be wacky sitcoms the writer, Paul Makin, has laid the groundwork expertly: at any given moment you are always absolutely clear about what characters want, so that when Carter and Bell suddenly go into revenge tragedy mode (or whatever) it's a heightening, a logical extension of what they're feeling, like someone bursting into song in a (good) musical, rather than something bolted on at random for a cheap laugh. For all the surreal elements Nightingales, like the best sitcoms, is resolutely character-led.
There may even be elements of Hancock and Sid James or the Steptoes in the partnership of Carter and Bell (in a possible echo of Hancock's A Sunday Afternoon at Home, there's a pleasingly cruel moment where Bell works out that Carter, for all his show of superiority, wastes his time off just as much as he does) and one of the best episodes revolves around a pointless but absorbing competition between the two (Carter composes a playlet for the express purpose of humiliating Ding-Dong; David Threlfall's pain in delivering Bell's Carter-composed lines is a delight to watch).
And with this duo augmented by the father figure of Jame Ellis's Sarge you have, in effect, the quintessential sitcom family, trapped by their need for each other - not to mention a singular lack of demonstrable skills which might allow them to gain meaningful employment elsewhere.
In short, every single element of Nightingales works. The pattern of each episode is often broadly similar - the arrival of a stranger who leaves by the end - but within those twenty four (or whatever) minutes are comic moments you will not find anywhere else.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars waiting impatiently, 14 Mar 2006
By 
Jane Sambrook (MONMOUTH United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Nightingales [DVD] (DVD)
I have been on the look out for this series for ages!
It was vastly under-rated at the time and, judging by the pre-reviews, appreciated by a larger audience than the TV planners gave credit to.
It is intelligent, ironic - good god! it may even be post modern!
This is what the TV licence was all about, putting funding (I hope) where it is justified.
Original, anarchic humour.
I am so glad that I am finally going to be able to buy a copy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good first series. Brilliant second series! Just buy it!, 1 April 2012
By 
Cartimand (Hampshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Nightingales [DVD] (DVD)
I had faint memories of watching a couple of episodes of Nightingales when it was first broadcast and finding it pretty funny. I baulked at paying high-street prices to see if it had stood the test of time but, at Amazon's current very reasonable price for this two-disk set, thought it was worth a shot.

Well was it?

Absolutely!

The blurb on the box compares Nightingales to The League of Gentlemen and Little Britain. Fair enough; these are all comedies that rely on character-driven absurdity/grotesqueness. For my money though, Nightingales most closely resembles Bottom, but with less slapstick and more bizarre and inspired twists. Who could fail to have a chuckle or two at the totally off-the wall notion of a lycanthrope heart-surgeon or the cringingly awful "entertainment" served to the hapless "ex-page 3 girl" or our protagonists lapsing into Shakespearean villainy mode? So far so good. But it is in series two that you'll hit the mother-lode of comedy - every episode contains many genuine laugh-out-loud moments, with delightfully surreal incongruities and some outrageous visual gags. In fact, similarities to Bottom abound in the Christmas special and the whole burglar scenario but, as Nightingales aired first, if there was any plagiarism involved, it would appear to have come from Messrs Mayall and Edmondson. The final episode - in which our heroes' doppelgangers turn up, is almost too weird for words and must have been an absolute blast to perform in. You will certainly be left wanting more! When guest stars turn up, such as Peter Vaughan as the outrageously brutal inspector and Mary - The Christmas Allegory (Lia Williams), they put in great performances too, but it is the inspired interplay between would-be toff and intellectual Carter (Lindsay), splendidly OTT yob (Threlfall) and the delightfully optimistic Dixon of Dock Green era Sarge (Ellis) that hold it all together.

Forget the credit crunch. If laughter is the best therapy, then this certainly is a few quid well spent.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last!, 21 May 2006
By 
Bruce Rayne (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Nightingales [DVD] (DVD)
Well the quality of the DVD is rather poor, and the extras are, well, nonexistant, but who cares? Now that I have this absolute gem of a show on DVD in my collection, my life is complete. One of the most entertaining, hilarious and surreal shows you are ever likely to see. Never heard of it? Buy it. You won't regret it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I must have leave to speak.....!, 24 July 2013
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This review is from: Nightingales [DVD] (DVD)
Nightingales is somewhat of a lost treasure. While it's true that it's dark, satirical, sometimes obtuse humour is not for everybody, it is nevertheless a golden nugget of comedy that, while totally unique at the time, has influenced many comedies since.
If you have never seen this before (most people i speak to haven't even heard of it) and are confused as to just what it's like, the closest approximation I can give is the diverse genius that is Black Books. If you are a fan of Bernard, Manny and Fran then I very much doubt that you will find Nightingales to be lacking. In fact, I can see a great deal of it's Nightingales in the writing and style of Black Books, despite the distinct differences in tone.
If you HAVE seen Nightingales before, trust me when I say that whatever fond memories you have are not tainted by rose lenses. Every episode is as wonderful today as it was 20 years ago
The dynamic relationship between Carter (The man above his station with child-like emotional needs) and Bell (The curious idiot-sauvant) is very akin to that of Bernard and Manny and creates a deeply entertaining contrast of utter contempt and mutual affection between the two, tempered only by Sarge's level-headed intervention. A simple device that creates almost endless comedic potential. One can imagine that Robert Lindsay and David Threlfall spent a lot of time trying to one-up each other, leading to some genuinely laugh out loud moments
The true genius of Nightingales though is it's unrelenting lack of fear to be 'different'. It doesn't TRY to be different, it simply IS different by it's nature and is not ashamed to be so.
The writer, Paul Makin, frequently uses abstract styles and concepts in order to further the the storylines and break down the walls of a very confined space. His use of iconic themes such as piracy and shakespearian theater transform the characters greatly and often transforms a stuffy office setting into a far wider and interesting environment with practically no extra set-dressings.
If your sense of humour is somewhat slanted, inane and random then you will almost certainly come to love this massively underpublicised and underappreciated work of wonder. While both seasons are great and the actors are consistently flawless throughought, season 2 is undoubtedly the jewel in Paul Makin's crown. The writing in season 2 is especially tight and laser-focussed on delivering it's dark and cutting satire, while maintaining a warmth and unashamed silliness rarely seen in any popular comedy.

Despite what has been said in other reviews, I found the video quality to be perfectly fine for a series pushing 25 years old. If you have a player with a bult-in upscaler then the picture becomes even cleaner. The disc set is a no frills affair and sadly there are no subs which makes this product unfriendly to the hard of hearing :(

Despite its bare-bones presentation, this 2 disc set is nevertheless a must-have for original fans and at 10 quid is probably worth a punt for anyone looking for something a little different.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost gem dediscovered, 25 April 2007
By 
This review is from: Nightingales [DVD] (DVD)
I vaguely recalled this short-lived series when i saw it on TV many moons ago. I remembered its rather off-the-wall storylines. I remembered that storylines went off on unlikely and bizarre tangents. I remembered i kinda liked it. So, on a whim (and taking note of a price that said "nothing to lose") i purchased it. I was glad i did.

There were only 2 series made of this comedy and disc 1 (series 1) is a little patchy: setting the scene i suppose. The programme often went off into odd places, making story comparisons with many genres like Shakespeare and apocryphal tales (think "West Side Story's" plot similarity to "Romeo & Juliet" and you'll get what i mean). It had hilarious comedy moments and moments where it fell into Carry-On territory. But it was to get better...

Disc 2 (series 2) is where it really came into its own. Having watched it through, it reminds me of the sort of surreal, silly humour that made the likes of Father Ted and The Young Ones such a joy to watch. I also thought it had some comparisons with The Goodies in that it is 3 guys in a situation that bears no great relevance to any of the stories. It had clever moments, bawdy moments and just downright hilarious moments. A real shame that the better second series could not propel this programme into greater realms and make it the classic comedy it could have been.

I must also remark that you can't go far wrong with a cast like Threlfall, Lindsay and Ellis, along with it various guest perfomances - note a young Jake Wood (Max Branning in Eastenders) with a full head of ginger hair. And the writing of Marks & Gran collaborator Paul Makin is excellent.

[...]
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 26 Feb 2006
By 
Noel (Croydon, SURREY Great Britain) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Nightingales [DVD] (DVD)
Well, it's about time. It's one of the most under-rated TV copies of the nineties and my VHS copies are wearing out but I hope it is both of the series'. If the first few have the dead watchman, the werewolf & the caretaker it's the first series. If it's Sarge, Ding-Dong & Carter with the occasional werewolf appearence it's the second.
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Nightingales [DVD]
Nightingales [DVD] by Robert Lindsay (DVD - 2006)
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