7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Count Arthur Meets Generic BBC TV Comedy,
This review is from: Count Arthur Strong [DVD] (DVD)
As someone who has been delighted by the off-the-wall inspiration of the radio series and the stage shows, I was fearing the worst before watching this, but in the end (I felt about Episode 5, where I was laughing out loud before the seemingly compulsory descent into pathos) it wasn't quite as bad as I thought it might have been. After all, they could have used Ben Elton for the TV transfer. What Linehan does is rather akin to what Sid Green and Dick Hills did for Morecambe and Wise in their film roles: provide a slick vehicle that is never quite as intimate, organic or convincing as it should be, somehow diminishing the protagonists it should enhance.
Sadly, the original radio cast has been ditched for some smoothly timed sitcom actors, the one exception among these being Rory Kinnear, who does his best (which is occasionally silly, thanks to the script) but whose part takes too much attention away from the Count. Barry Cryer - a guest in the radio version - does appear, as does Dave Plimmer (a wasted and pointless Eggy) who I seem to remember playing a better role as an unknown Dad's Army actor in one of the stage shows.
The Count too is strangely polished, with a lot of the rough edge taken off his humour. Where Linehan recycles old sketches - the salmon, Memory Man and so forth - they are never as funny as the originals. The torrent of hit-and-miss malapropisms has slowed to a trickle, and the trademark obnoxiousness has shaded off into loveability.
What might have been used to advantage were some of the techniques used in The Man Behind the Slime, such as footage of the Count in his heyday (even his "partner" gets some of that in the first episode) with clips of appearances in Dixon of Dock Green and the rest. There's always a sense that he was once a competent performer, before the drink got to him, and not the talentless idiot he's made out to be in "Arthur's Big Moment", and it would be interesting to see historic (or historical, such as more on Egyptology) stage and screen performances.
At least we can expect a second series, which might give Linehan enough time to correct his approach, providing he is willing to improve on this first attempt, which at least served to get Arthur on the telly.