Top positive review
18 people found this helpful
on 11 November 2010
Fantastic to finally get a DVD release of these three original Granada productions from the late 70s/ early 80s from the genius that is Victoria Wood.
Production values are extremely good for the time, but, taken separately, the three teleplays here do vary somewhat in the writing quality:
Talent, VW's first play from 1979, is set backstage at a local talent show and features Wood and Walters as Maureen and Julie as they sit and smoke fags and quaff Babycham nervously anticipating Julie's star turn of 'Cabaret' that evening. Filled with some hilarious one-liners and great performances, this does however suffer from some average songs which don't sit too comfortably within the structure of the dialogue. As a first teleplay this is a superb achievement, but there is a little stiltedness to the writing and unsatisfactory exposition of the back story and its outcome in relation to Julie's character. This is the weakest effort of the three, but still manages to conjure some lovely nostalgia and a glimpse of the promise of VW's superb observations.
Nearly a Happy Ending is a sequel to Talent as we catch up with Julie and Maureen a year later to discover that Maureen has been a big success at Weight Watchers and Julie is coping with depression following her finace's death. Altogether a more solid effort than its predecesssor with better songs and a wickedly funny script, this evidences a massive development in VW's talent for writing and structure and succesfully combines laugh out loud crudities with some touching and poignant moments. The only criticism to level at it is that Julie's character comes across as ultimately very unsympathetic, which is the only jarring note of the story.
Happy Since I Met You is the star turn on offer here with SUPERB performances from Walters and Duncan Preston as the two lovers who meet at a horrendously boring dinner party and then progress to form a deep relationship over the coming year. Wood's writing is just spot-on and the combination of warm comedic intimacy and terrifying and ultimately violent claustrophobia between the two leads is perfectly rendered in this 52 minute drama. This must be one of the finest pieces of work that Wood ever wrote and is worth the price of the DVD alone. Repeated viewings are guranteed.
Overall, a fantastic opportunity to experience the amazing developing talent of the remarkable Wood in her early TV days - a real foretaste of what would come with the stunning 'Pat and Margaret' a decade later, and a reminder that Wood should concentrate on creating these kinds of wonderful dramas rather than the stodgy sketch pieces like Midlife Christmas she has been recently guilty of.