64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Wannabe comedy writers take note,
This review is from: The Complete Steptoe & Son [DVD]  (DVD)Steptoe and Son - 3 words that define what great situation comedy is all about. And here's 3 more words that define great situation comedy - Galton and Simpson. The combination of brilliant writing and acting sets this series apart, and here it all is now - complete in one neat box set. No gimmicks, no extras, just great, timeless comedy.
Steptoe and Son works because underneath the humour are real dilemmas and a sense of tragedy and frustration, played out beautifully by actors not looking for a cheap, instant laugh.
Anyone remotely interested in writing comedy could do worse than invest in this box set, and take note of how perfectly each episode is contructed. For the rest of us - we can simply watch and enjoy; knowing we are unlikely to see such comedy quality again.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Aug 2009 02:17:18 BDT
This is the first time I've heard anyone mention those essential requirements for first-class comedy - 'tragedy and frustration'. All the best comedy series had those ingredients a-plenty. But not the comedy series of today. That's why they're just not funny. Whereas the best laughs arise out of how characters respond to/deal with 'tragedy and frustration'. Thanks for making a vital point about comedy. I hope all aspiring writers are taking good note.
Posted on 30 Mar 2011 19:41:15 BDT
steve p says:
john you are so right we will never see the likes of steptoe or dads army again thank lord for the dvds all the best steve
Posted on 2 Mar 2012 09:24:23 GMT
Mr. D. Bain says:
A very insightful review. I think all the points you make are spot on. One other thought that occurred to me when watching this terrific series was, that had it been made today much of the comic impact would have been reigned in by the inevitable strictures of modern day political correctness. One example of this that springs to mind occurs in the episode where Harold threatens to leave home and set up in a 'batchelor pad', Albert proceeds to write out a note advertisng a room to let duly noting that 'w**s' need not apply. Now I do realise that people find such terms offensive, however my point is that the same terms were just as offensive at the time when these programmes were made. This is evidenced by the fact that Harold points out to his father that 'you can't write that', the old man replies with something like 'why not, it's my house and I don't like w**s'. I don't believe for a moment that Galton and Simpson were racists, however Albert Steptoe was, and due to the way the scene is written he is the one who looks ridiculous. Johnny Speight used similar comic devices through his Alf Garnett creation to show bigotry for what it was. Unfortunately he was often misconstrued as writing bigoted material, when he was actually doing quite the opposite. It is not always the words themselves that are offensive, it is the ways in which they are used. Also unfortunate is the fact that most of these wonderful shows will never again be shown on television because the powers that be often censor not only that which is actually offensive, but also anything that may be misconstrued as being so.
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