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Alan Partridge - Partrimilgrimage: The Specials [DVD]
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A collection of two Alan Partridge specials. In 'Welcome to the Places of My Life', former chat show star Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) takes viewers on a 'documentary' tour of the county that has shaped the life of this national icon - Norfolk. Showcasing such highlights as the Riverside Leisure Centre, the local dry ski slope, and the inspiring spaces of Norwich City Hall, Alan shares his thoughts on the sights and sounds that have come to mould the broadcasting legend. In 'Open Books with Martin Bryce', Alan talks to stand-in host Chris Beale (Robert Popper) about his latest autobiography 'I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan'. In a candid and wide-ranging interview, the North Norfolk Digital DJ discusses all aspects of his life, including his once all-consuming Toblerone addiction.
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The former is a documentary consisting of Alan's personal tour of his favourite places in Norfolk. The latter is an interview with Alan talking about his book `I: Partridge'.
To give you a more first hand idea of this content: for all owners of `I'm Alan Partridge Series 2' on DVD - insert disc 2 and play the special feature `Anglian Alan'. Now divide this show into the two parts (the parts in the studio with the book; and the parts outside with him talking and rambling). Now extrapolate them both into 2 no. 40 minute shows and that is quite literally it. (some of the scripts and lines used are actually the same).
These two shows are quite leftfield for the Partridge canon, but they are a welcome addition to the other leading shows and are definitely worth having for Partridge fans.
My only gripe is that they could easily have been special features on the Mid-Morning Matters DVD (as they were with I'm Alan Partridge), but with Sky at the helm they've been split into two separate releases. There are no special features either. It's got an ever-so-slight aroma of cash-in if I'm honest - it's an old idea that's been re-hashed - but to the team's credit, they have done it very well.
Both shows are very funny - particularly the Open Books episode, and have a much fuller production value than their original drafts from ten years ago. They stand on their own are a worthy addition to the Partridge collection. Just not quite up to the standard of the main shows.
If TPOML observed Partridge's exteral environment, then this episode of 'Open Books with Martyn Price' helps us to delve into the internal Alan. His wonderful autobiography 'I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan' is explored in detail; this consumate work sees Alan talk movingly about his almost-abusive childhood, his addiction (Toberlerone abuse almost distroyed him during his 'wilderness years') and his rise to the very top of TV chat, then North Norfolk radio. Any observer will be guaranteed to be left thinking "Yes. We really DID need to talk about Alan."
To sum up, this will be one of the best DVDs ever made about one of the most interesting men ever to work in Chat. Ross - move over. Norton - your time is almost up. The true Master of Chat is probably literally seconds away from making the biggest comeback since Parky in the 90s.
The first, The Places of my Life, sees Alan presenting a documentary based on the places that have meant most to him in and around Norfolk. This is 'classic' Partridge, if such a thing can be said to exist. There's excruciating interviews (with a swimming instructor in the local swimming pool, whilst Alan tries to stay afloat - quite literally 'liquid Partridge'), embarrassing situations (selling veg on a market stall to try to prove that it's as easy as it looks), over-the-top product placement as Alan test drives a car, and a hilarious sequence where Alan starts off by recounting a particularly controversial meeting of Norwich City Council, that ends up taking a somewhat, ahem, right-wing twist.
If the DVD carried on in a similar vein, then I would have given it five stars. Unfortunately, the second part of the DVD, Alan being interviewed about his autobiography on a book program, isn't quite as funny. There's still many of the cringeworthy moments in which Partridge specialises, mainly around the obvious bitterness of the program host who is interviewing Alan that he himself failed as an author, and there's much hilarity resulting from Alan's confusion regarding identical twins in the audience. However, it just doesn't seem to gel as well as other Partridge programmes.
Despite this, it's still an excellent addition to the Partridge canon, and an improvement on the recent Mid Morning Matters, which itself was slightly limited by being set purely in a single radio studio. Recommended, and I await the forthcoming movie with eagerness, and some trepidation at how Alan will humiliate himself next.
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