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Blandings - Series 1 [DVD]
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Brand new television series set in 1929 and based on the Blandings comedy stories of PG Wodehouse. Blandings Castle is dysfunction junction, the home of a chaotic family struggling to keep itself in order. Clarence Emsworth, ninth earl and master of Blandings Castle, yearns with all his soul to be left in peace; preferably in the company of his beloved pig, The Empress. But he never is; there is always someone who wants him to do something.
Presiding over the blitzkrieg on his equilibrium is the baleful figure of his sister Connie, with whom he shares the house; at her shoulder is Clarence's brainless younger son Freddie and a panoply of friends, enemies, servants, spongers, private detectives, bookies and confidence tricksters. Only Beach, his loyal and long-suffering butler, provides consolation. Storm-battered Clarence, somehow never vanquished, occasionally makes everything right through an inspired or accidental intervention.
Starring: Starring: Timothy Spall, Jennifer Saunders, Mark Williams, Jack Farthing, David Walliams
Based around the stories written by PG Wodehouse, Blandings takes its name from the castle that forms the location for the series, and it's a programme that lends a much-needed humorous touch to the period drama genre. Set in 1920s London, the aforementioned castle plays host to the servants and the people they serve, and the show itself happily pokes fun at both.
There's a lot to like here. The core cast of Blandings is terrific, led by the always-excellent Timothy Spall, alongside Jennifer Saunders and Mark Williams. Their performances crackle, too, and generate many good giggles. There's no shortage of guest appearances to liven things up either. But it's screenwriter Guy Andrews who manages to capture the joy of Wodehouse's text, presenting a divisive but often very funny show, that's something of an alternative to the likes of Downton Abbey.
Mind you, just because it's taking a comedic path, that doesn't mean that it skimps on its production values. There's a real sense that the budget of Blandings has been stretched to breaking point to get everything on screen. That said, it's the company of actors, clearly having a ball with the material, who remain the real treat here.
It doesn't all work, and there's the occasional sense of trying just a little too hard. But Blandings, at its best, is great fun, and well worth checking out. --Jon Foster
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Top customer reviews
To enjoy the series what you have to do is stop comparing it to the literature works, just take it as it is, do not expect too much or you will be disappointed. As for the slap-stick fans, well, keep dictionaries and literature words book handy at all times while watching.
What the BBC has ended up with is a very well-produced series that had me laughing out loud on several occasions. The characters are farcical caricatures that are interesting and charmingly predictable once you get to know them, and one does get to know them rather quickly through their idiosyncrasies, catchphrases and typical behaviour.
Casting appears to me to be spot on – perhaps not exactly the way they are portrayed in the book, but each actor owns their own character from the first episode, their acting choices consistently carried on through both series.
If you don't know the Wodehouse stories but enjoy farce and situational comedy as it can only be done in Britain – or if you know the stories and are willing to forgive or ignore any differences with the written word – this is highly entertaining, as it would be even on repeated viewings.