48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
See Danny Dyer lose his head...,
This review is from: Plebs [DVD] (DVD)
This sitcom, set in Ancient Rome, is clearly aimed at a youngish audience rather than middle-aged fogies like me. I sit through most modern TV comedies with a stoney face but I like all things Roman so I thought I'd give this one a whirl. Well, mirabile dictu, as the Romans used to say, Plebs made me chuckle and even got a few good laughs out of me, especially when cockney gladiator Danny Dyer parted company with his head in the arena (nothing personal Danny, it was just gruesomely funny.) I guess you could describe the series as a kind of Inbetweeners in tunics and togas and the level of humour is rather similar veering between schoolboy lewdness and something rather more sophisticated. The comic star of the show is undoubtedly Ryan Sampson, effortlessly funny as the gormless and totally useless slave Grumio with his hangdog face, pudding basin haircut and deadpan delivery ("Go on, then, try and sell me " he says to his exasperated owner, "no one will buy me.") Grumio's attempt to eat the newly introduced pineapple also got a laugh out of me - "It's not bad, that" he says, crunching into one of the spikey leaves. But all of the regular characters are smartly cast and sharply etched, and it was good to see Yootha Joyce's old partner from George and Mildred making a guest appearance as a bolshie old army veteran, and likewise comedy stalwart Janine Duvitski as a demented old crone spouting apocalyptic nonsense.
The series serves up a clever mix of the authentic and the anachronistic and each episode zips along at a brisk pace with many scenes lasting barely seconds. I particularly liked the final episode in which the festival of Saturnalia is celebrated in the style of New Year's Eve, complete with a midnight gong in the forum, whilst the hapless Grumio gets involved in the Scientology type cult of the goddess Cybele, only to find out that castration is one of the rites of initiation. There's also a funny episode in which Thrace has just joined the Roman Empire and the city is inundated with Thracians talking with Polish accents. And it's not often you notice the production values in a TV sitcom, but the forum set, crowd scenes, costumes and interiors certainly suggest the series cost a denarius or two to make. Indeed one wonders why or how Plebs made its debut on ITV2, a channel chiefly renowned for endless repeats of unoriginal low budget fodder such as the Jeremy Kyle Show
I actually watched a few episodes twice which is the sort of thing I normally only do for comedy greats like Fawlty Towers or Father Ted. I'm not sure yet whether Plebs has the makings of a classic sitcom but it's certainly good fun and anything that wrings a few laughs out of me and keeps me smiling can't be bad. So let's have another series, and let it be even funnier.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 25 Apr 2013 10:21:10 BDT
Excellent review, Captain. I'm another middle-aged fogey who was surprised by Plebs. Glad I wasn't alone in watching some of the episodes twice.
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2013 17:14:34 BDT
Guy Mannering says:
Captain??? Oh, I've gotcha! Actually, I don't think Captain Mainwaring would have found Plebs at all amusing but I'm pretty sure Grumio's kindred spirit, Pike, would have snickered all the way through it.
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2013 22:13:22 BDT
Sorry. It was cheap and childish ... but I had to!
I agree about Grumio. He wins an instant place in the pantheon of sitcom brainiacs that includes Pike, Baldrick, Trigger and Alice Tinker.
Posted on 2 May 2013 17:55:27 BDT
R. Foster says:
Great review...From another middle-aged fogey.
Posted on 22 Jan 2014 18:49:15 GMT
Last edited by the author on 22 Jan 2014 18:49:40 GMT
I'm not sure about comedy classic, as it may be too lightweight to bear repeated viewings, but I liked it a lot and am looking forward to series 2. It was filmed in a studio in the Balkans, so it probably cost less to make than you think.
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jan 2014 19:49:07 GMT
Guy Mannering says:
Yes, I agree it's too early to say classic, I think we need another series to make a judgement. But I've recently watched the opening episode for the third time (there's so little worth watching at the moment.). Still kept me smiling. You can't fail to notice all the East European names in the credits, so I figured it was made in that region.
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jan 2014 19:54:58 GMT
Nu Boyana Studios, Bulgaria
Posted on 30 Jan 2014 11:53:25 GMT
Timelord - 007 says:
Great informative review sir.
Posted on 6 Nov 2014 11:50:33 GMT
I agree Ryan Sampson as Grumio. stole the show for me his look, his lines. Had me in bits albeit they all acted well it was certainly a show that more than met my expectation
Posted on 6 Nov 2014 12:58:11 GMT
Well, I has very happy with season 2, especially since it had 8 eps, not 6. So I've ordered the DVD of season 1, since I'm sure I'll be buying the DVD of season 2.
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