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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Ronnie Barker Ultimate Collection [DVD]
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113 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on 24 November 2005
Seven Of One: This must be a show to go down in history, purely because it sparked Porridge and Open All Hours. Effectively a series of 7 pilots, with possibilities for further series with each episode, Ronnie plays 7 completely different characters with perfect ease.
Porridge: Clearly one of the greatest comedies of all time. Fletcher captured our hearts with Ronnie Barker's terrific acting abilities, and his talent for bringing a monotonous situation to life. Excellent writing, excellent acting, excellent direction. Excellent.
Going Straight: Oft overlooked, I find this to be almost on a par with Porridge; it is to me a fourth series of Porridge, just in a different setting. Richard Beckinsale heads up a spectacular backing cast for Ronnie, who gives his level best again.
Open All Hours: Ronnie's second most famous piece, discounting the Two Ronnies, I have never liked this anywhere near as much as Porridge, but the shop holds some truly fabulous moments, characters, and catchphrases.
The Magnificent Evans: He's Welsh now, and he slips into this new role with perfect ease, and it's hard to believe he could be so different to Fletcher and Arkwright.
Clarence: Now he's blind. Not as funny as it might have been, but some moments in Episode 4 will surely have you rolling about with laughter.
What's missing? Not a lot. I would've liked to see the "Ronnie Barker Yearbook", one of the shows which began his path to glory, and I would have liked to see that "Fletcher: Beyond The Box" thing from a couple of years ago, where some reporters visit the characters from Porridge and see what they made of their lives. There's one brilliant moment when the illiterate Warren is being interviewed while painting a "SCHOOL-NO STOPPING" sign on the road. He seems a bit worried, and calls off to say "How many Os are there in school?" He gets the reply "Two", says "Oh, that's a relief", and the camera pans down to see "SKOOL-NO STOPPING".
Anyway, here's hoping they do a comprehensive Two Ronnies Boxset soon.
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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
An excellent collection. I've been a Ronnie Barker fan for years and jumped at the chance to buy this set.

I remember Open All Hours from when it was originally shown on Australian TV. Ronnie makes stuttering Arkwright one of the best comedy characters ever seen on TV. A very young David Jason proved the perfect foil for Ronnie's penny-pinching Arkwright. Brief aside here - why does a lot of David's early work (Porridge, Doctor In The House) entail him portraying old men? Strange that!

I've never been a fan of Porridge, but found I really enjoyed Going Straight (which I could not remember seeing on TV). Fletcher having to cope with life on the outside made him an even funnier character than that portrayed in Porridge. A very young Nicholas Lyndhurst was an added bonus.

Clarence was sublime!! I've been after this series for years. Ronnie and Josephine Tewson really sparked together. Pity only one series was ever made. This series alone was almost worth the purchase price of the whole set.

I enjoyed The Magnificent Evans and Seven Of One but unfortunately they could not compete with the brilliance of OAH and Clarence.

These comedies walk all over American comedies. The Brits (especially Ronnie) do it best!!

So where's the complete Two Ronnies set? I cannot believe one of the best comedy series ever made has not yet been released on DVD!!!! Series one release is NOT enough!
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2005
This box set contains the following DVDs:
* Porridge series 1-3 & Christmas Specials
* Open All Hours series 1-4
* Going Straight
* Clarence
* Seven of One
* The Magnificent Evans
Porridge is Ronnie Barker's supreme achievement - his portrayal of Fletcher, the prison lag, is surely one of the best characters in comedy. Open All Hours, another of the top ten British comedies of all time, is a gentler comedy but also very good. Going Straight was a disappointment, and Clarence, from what I remember of seeing it on TV, wasn't that great either.
The price of this collection is amply justified by Porridge and OAH, and the others are interesting footnotes in Barker's career. Nevertheless, two of the greatest comic performances ever shown on TV - who can complain about that?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 2009
Purchased The Ultimate Ronnie Barker to watch one of the best actors of his time. How can you forget the Four candles (Fork Handles) sketch from the Two Ronnies, the man was a genius at his trade, to make you ache with laughter.

The only thing that could have been mentioned before purchse is the fact that the disc`s default to Sub-Titles, in my opinion they should default No Sub-Titles, it`s not all that easy to take off the sub-Titles, it looks as if they are off when they are not - a bit messy.

But you cannot fault the entertainment.

Ron Wainman
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Ultimate Ronnie Barker Collection : Seven Of One / Porridge / Going Straight / Open All Hours / Clarence / The Magnificent Evans (12 Disc BBC Box Set) [DVD]

It goes without saying that most people will buy this for the complete collections of Porridge and Open All Hours. They were, are and will continue to be the very best of situation comedy performed with the very best of comedy actors.

The remaining discs may be regarded as an added bonus. although they are not comparable in terms of comedy or endurability as the main fare.

May I put in a plea, however for Porridge the Movie. Much better than many sniffy critics have suggested and a must, really, to complete the Porridge saga. It is also a very reasonably priced purchase!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2011
I can't think of many comedians more talented and versatile than Ronnie Barker. This set is a real bargain that provides hours of entertainment that really doesn't seem old despite the true age of many of these productions. I guess good acting, writing and production never age.

My favorite is "Open All Hours" simply because it was one of the first British comedies I was exposed to here in the States. It's "comfort food" for my eyes. I enjoy the warmth and slow pace of the series. Slow, yes, but never dull and full of relaxing greatness.

I'm not terribly familiar with Welsh accents and to my ears Ronnie sounds more Indian than Welsh as Evans. He does everything perfectly so I'm assuming it's accurate. I still enjoy the show.

It's so nice to see some lesser-known roles and have a good retrospective of his comedic career. (I'll have to seek out "The 2 Ronnies" as well to complete the collection.) Terrific in every way and highly recommended to other Americans looking for non-controversial, great comedy.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 19 December 2008
entertainment of the highest quality from the master of comedy.
£40 for the box set is an absolute steal , the porridge set alone is worth that but my personel favourite from ronnie is clarence its so witty and clever only a true genius could write such a series and ronnie certainly delivers in his last offering before retirement.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 24 December 2010
For those who haven't already acquired the individual DVD releases of Porridge and Open All Hours, Ronnie Barker's two all-time classic comedy series, this 12 DVD box budget-priced set is an ideal way of catching up. Ronnie Barker was one of Britain's all-time great comedians and anything he did is worth a look. However, The Magnificent Evans and Clarence, while having their occasional moments, are generally forgettable. The earliest series in the package, Seven Of One, is a mixed bag, with two of the seven episodes being bases for the later Porridge and Open All Hours. Overall, the big package is a mixed bag, but well worth owning if you don't have Porridge or Open All Hours. The other parts will probably not be watched more than once.
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on 22 October 2013
We got this for the time honoured comedy of Porridge and ended up enjoying pretty much everything in the set. Seeing the material in higher definition than the original was targeted for can get a bit distracting at times (e.g. in Porridge the cell scenes look far better than the outdoor or communal scenes and HD equipment really shows this up). What doesn't get fuzzy is the comedy itself, which in Porridge is sharp as a tack, as it can be in Open All Hours too. There are a few fall-about moments to see in both these series, and Barker's delivery is so laconic that I'm sure he could have got a laugh reading the news (well, he did on the Two Ronnies, I guess).

To get all this material in one place is great, and really show Ronnie B's consistent greatness at interpreting the material, which I'm sure was written with him in mind by the various writers.

With the passage of time I suppose there may be people who see the shows as dated, and certainly some of the humour is very close to today's very politically-correct edges while it is far tamer in other respects. In the end the comedy is actually pretty normal "human" comedy - it's something you can imagine happening rather than some of the dafter comedies that have to get outlandish for their effect. The only thing that came as uncomfortably close to real is probably "The Office" many years later.

It is "of its time" but also perennial. Loved it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Ronnie barker is one of the greatest comedians anywhere. His timing and often straight face are unique. These DVDs are a magical mix of both comedy and acting and for all of the family.
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