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4.7 out of 5 stars55
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 6 January 2016
One of the often overlooked treasures from the British Comedy vault, Black Books sees misanthropic drunk - and book store owner - Bernard Black (Dylan Moran), his employee Manny Bianco (Bill Bailey) and oldest friend Fran Katzenjammer (Tamsin Greig), survive the despair of their own existences by drinking, arguing, passing-out and procrastinating through some very clever comic scenarios. Including being trapped in a piano; nearly having a breakdown at the thought of a parental visit; accepting hospitalisation as a genuine alternative to filling out a tax return and many others.

Black Books is a charming and very well constructed comedy, and while it’s not slapstick; it uses completely absurd situations and farcical set-pieces brilliantly, while all the while making them believable. But through it all, it’s the relationship between the main three characters that is the real draw.

Bernard, who is so distraught at his own existence, bounces off the happy but hollow Fran and the charming but weak Manny to the point it becomes clear that the three of them need each other completely. Drunken antics galore and a wonderful portrayal of the characters makes the show almost heart-warming, despite its near depressing outlook.

There’s a few great cameos in there too including Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, co-writer Graham Linehan plus others.

The boxset includes all 6 episodes from each of the 3 series, plus special features on each disc. From what I can tell they are the same releases as the individual series’ releases, just with a box around them.

Black Books has never been recognised as a classic, but for those who live and breath Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, Father Ted et al, this is one of the funniest and traditional comedies you can get.

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on 14 January 2014
It's just really funny. What more can I say? the characters in it are totally mad. The situations they get into are wonderful. Anyone who enjoyed classic mad-Irishman comedies such as Father Ted and The IT Crowd will love this. I nearly peed myself at the episode where the Bill Bailey character was inside the piano, playing from within with a pair of spoons. And the one where he was eating scrambled egg out if an old shoe. Marvellous!!!!
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on 25 June 2014
I’m a german girl, but this is not preventing me from watching english movies and series, especially the british ones. ‘Cause I really love this british sense of humour.
So in November 2012, when I rummaged in the internet, I came across the british series “Black Books”. I occupied myself a little closer with it and concluded this is something for me. So I bought this series on DVD. Forwhy my English is not so bad and I own a good english-dictionary, and there is subtitle on the DVD, it’s quite easy for me to follow the plot.

Now the contents:
“Black Books” is the name of a book-shop, which owner is Bernard Black.
Bernard is that kind of person you don’t want to know anymore, if you just got to know him. He is eccentric, pigheaded, grumpy, lazy, he’s lying (especially if it’s to his personal advantage) and he has a low opinion of hygienic – with his shop and flat, and also with his own person. His “hobbies” are drinking (too much wine), smoking and scaring customers out of his shop. He is a person you want to steer clear of. Anyway, he has real good friend: Fran. She lives in the house next to Bernard’s and got a little downstairs decoration-shop. But she’s hanging around in Bernard’s shop almost the whole time, especially when she is unemployed and had to close her shop at beginning of series two. Fran loves drinking wine and smoking every bit as Bernard, but she is more lovely. Therefore she is a bit crazy and chaotic. The third one is Manny. He is an accountant, but got fired from his old job after a “work accident”. At Frans insistence, he started working in the book-shop. And, of course, Bernard had lots of doubts and contradictions but he hired Manny regardless. Manny is courteous, helpful, nice, compassionate and all the opposite of Bernard. And because Manny is also a bit naive, he just doesn’t do his work as an accountant. Bernard pushes everything he doesn’t want to do to Manny: to serve customers, clean up the shop and the flat, do the laundries, cooking, making breakfast and so on. “As thanks”, Bernard practise on Manny’s weaknesses, just to bother him. But Manny often don’t realize that.
With Fran, Manny shares his interests in the “world outside”. They like to go out, for example to cinema or to parties. If they ask Bernard to come along, maybe going out on Friday night, his standard answer is: “Why? ... Well, it was Friday night last week and it’ll be Friday night next week and every week until we’re dead and even then the whole rotten business will go on and on and on.” (Bernard’s quotation)
So, in every episode something absurd and weird happens – sometimes borderline situations, but mostly screamingly funny. Such as Bernard’s try to sweep out the customers off his shop, or his try to write a children’s book with Manny, or both want to integrate a restaurant-service into the book shop.

But aside from this really funny, well worth seeing plots, I’m really impressed by performing 80 to 90 % of this series at only one place – Bernard’s shop. And that majority of stories are performed by three persons. That’s filmic and acting peak performance. (I saw this just once in the movie called “Moon”, with Sam Rockwell.)
So my conclusion is: absolutely unmissable!
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on 22 January 2015
Personally, I think this is genius. Multi layered with sharp, clever ideas that seem so organic and natural, yet far fetched, that it almost seems straight out of someone's life experience. All this delivered with some of the most poetic, articulate dialogue i've ever heard for a comedy.

As soon as co creator Linehan departs at the end of series 1 though, you really can tell the difference. It seems as if they just make it up as they go along in some episodes thereafter.

Every episode is brilliant to quite good in series 1 though. And The box set is worth getting for series 2 episode 2 alone, as well as some more flashes of brilliance throughout the series.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 April 2014
This is a fantastic comic series, sadly finished before its time seemingly because I wish it had ran for more than its three series, the third series seemed to have had a much bigger budget too for cast, featuring cameos from the likes of Simon Pegg (although possibly before his rise to fame), and sets (the third DVD has an interactive menu too, with different dialogue when you select to watch all episodes or browse the extras menu). The comic writing and performances are consistently brilliant throughout all the three seasons though.

The principle comic performers are a great combination, all three together compliment each other so well, the only comic trio which I can think of which were as good as this were the cast of Father Ted. The gags have aged well too, being quirky and off beat in some ways at the time even, while chain smoking, alcoholism and, I suppose, real squalid self-dereliction may not be considered as staples of humour that often it works well in this series.

The plot revolves around the bookstore of the title, its owner and its customer come employee and female compatriot. It is in many ways a comedy of manners, or the lack therefore, as narcissism plays of people pleasing and debates about selfishness and how the character flaws of each clash or oddly compliment one another. Although that's a much too dry way of putting it, since it is funny and entertaining. Bill Bailey was very funny before this and he went on to do a lot of funny things since but I dont remember Dillon Moran for anything before Black Books.

It was great to get the complete collection to enjoy in marathon viewing sessions, having been a fan of the series from years ago but I think that anyone who would give the series a try would find it just as enjoyable. Recommended. Highly recommended.
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on 3 April 2015
A funny show, great cast and great value boxset. Glad I gave it a go on the recommendation of a friend who loved the show when it was originally on tv and knew I'd like it. Being a fan of Bill Bailey and Tamsin Greig I'm not quite sure why I didn't watch it first time round, but I'm glad I've watched it now! :)
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on 13 November 2015
Have always watched this whenever it was on, so it was worth investing in the boxset so we can watch it as often as we like!
It's timeless humour and if you find it funny once you'll be able to watch it over and over without getting tired of it.
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on 30 October 2014
funniest show ever !!! bought this for my dad for his birthday and it has been the best money I have ever spent! he has watched each episode a dozen times and has become a family classic we all love watching !
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on 9 July 2014
Nice to re-watch this again after so long. Crazy - Bill Bailey especially but all three of them are brilliant. Arrived very quickly and well packed. Three discs with 6 episodes - good value for the money.
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on 22 January 2014
An excellent reminder of just how witty and funny good British television series can be. It may be quirky British humour but in my book, or should that be DVD player?, this is amongst the BEST!!!
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