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One of the greatest Briitish farce comedies ever
on 25 September 2013
This 16 DVD set is the same set as the previous release with the same artwork. The only difference is the packaging. The box is much slimmer and stands upright. The discs themselves are exactly the same.
It is a fabulous set though. Here we get the complete nine series of the hit comedy all in one place. Allo Allo was such a fantastic comedy series with strong originality.
Rene Artois owns a café in a northern French town during world war two. Helping him is his wife Edith and shapely waitresses Yvette and Maria. Rene has to pander to the needs of the occupying German forces. And at the same time try to do his bit in helping allied air men evade capture.
This seems like yet another world war two series, but it is actually a great comedy dig at all of the over the top and over serious programmes on the subject.
The series has brilliant characters such as the Nazis Colonel Von Strohm, clumsy Captain Geering, gay Lt Gruber, limping Gestapo officer Herr Flick and his sidekick Von Smallhausen and of course Helga of whom Herr Flick makes kinky demands of affection.
The Germans should be predictably nasty evil bad guys but they are actually just the occupying force that are just as much loveable buffoons as the British or French. They are just great characters.
The café is also a safe house for two gormless British air men Fairfax and Carstairs who end up hiding in ridiculous places. These two are also buffoons with equally stereotyped World war two British accents and the series is a great send up.
The series is a farce and Rene is reluctant to help the air men but he is pushed on by the French resistance and the Resistance leader Michelle who offers one of the shows many catchphrases "Listen very carefully I will say this only once"
At the beginning of each episode Rene talks to camera (to us) updating us on the plot so far. The series acts like a continuing serial and the highly exaggerated plots include Rene coping with the airmen and being reluctant to sabotage the German efforts to steal a priceless painting known as the "Fallen Madonna with the big boobies" by Van Clomp.
Also present is the brilliant character inept British secret agent Officer Crabtree disguised as a Gendarme. He has a terrible understanding of the French Language that translates into a warped English with examples like "Good Moaning".
Around the central plot line there are other plots such as the steamy affairs between Rene, Yvette, Maria and Mimi. Also there is the so called death of Rene and Rene pretending to be his brother and then having to re marry Edith.
Other characters offer laughter such as Edith's Mother the bed ridden Fanny who often is out of bed and her beau, aging forger and resistance fighter Leclarc. Also there is the undertaker Monsieur Alphonse who has a "dicky ticker" and a "earse with a small orse".
There are long running jokes such as Edith's terrible singing that forces staff and customers to stuff their ears with cheese, Lt Gruber's advances to Rene and the secret radio to London hidden under Fanny's bed that Rene uses under the call sign Nighthawk. (the series got its name from the opening words of a call to London allo allo). Then there are the moments when Edith catches Rene in an uncompromising position with Yvette, Maria or Mimi which results in Rene saying "you stupid woman" and then in typical farce style coming up with an elaborate explanation as to why he has his arms around the waitresses.
The show has much innuendo and was criticised for bad taste in its innuendo and its use of the subject matter the Second world war. But the innuendo is funny and the humour is slapstick farce of the highest order. Also the show sends up over the top World war two dramas more than the cruelty of the war. It is a send up of all the typical aspects of the era and its subsequent endless serious based TV dramas on the subject. The British, the French and the Germans are all equally buffoons and they are all excellent characters. The show is particularly a send up of the earlier serious World war two drama Secret Army.
I love all the characters, even the Germans. the show is full of strong characterisations that make the show so memorable. The show is funny and entertaining and one of the best British comedies created by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft.
The nine series over sixteen discs offers many episodes to get through and it is good throughout and never seems to get bad.
Note. If you do buy this series I recommend that when you get to the end of series seven don't rush to go to disc one of series eight. First go to the last disc of the entire set (final disc series nine) There you will find a Christmas special that you should watch first for story continuity. Then go back to disc one of series eight and continue to series nine and back to that final disc. They have stupidly put this Christmas special on to the end of the set as a bonus but the story continuity between series seven and eight is somewhat lost without seeing it in the correct order.
Also of note there are no subtitles for the hard of hearing on series one and two but there are subtitles on series three to nine.
You cannot go wrong with this classic masterpiece of comedy.