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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

on 8 March 2008
A very accurate review by "Three Legged Cat"

I only saw a few episodes when it was first shown in the late 1970s, and I remember I seemed to like it. It has apparently been repeated since on the BBC but I missed it.

Having watched the box set now I can add that it is very much a comedy focusing on mid-life crises (of all the three main characters) - perhaps that's why I'm drawn to it as I'm now well into my forties. One, niggling aspect of the writing is that the dialog sometimes slips into a personal Carla Lane rant (animal welfare etc), although, as I have most of Carla Lane's collections it is not totally unexpected.

As an aside, I have just finished watching the 'My Family' boxset, and it seems slightly odd that both series deal with a dysfunctional family consisting of a dentist called Ben and their slightly confused wifes!

A few remarks about the actual DVD production. The video and audio quality are excellent - besides the obvious giveaway of 1970s suburbia they look as if they could have been filmed yesterday. The only fault I can find, and hence the 4 out of 5, is that the attractively simple DVD menus provided do not contain an episode selection, which is a real pain when trying to get back to to next episode. The only way to select an episode is to skip though the whole chapter menu until you find it.

Other than the DVD menu, which is obviously an irritation to me at least, I would highly recommend this series, although I doubt many under forties would find it racy enough, or understand the subtlety of this gentle 1970s comedy. Also as I write, this boxset is at a bargain price from Amazon.
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on 24 January 2008
Butterflies made in 1978-1983 was written by Carla Lane. It is a bitter sweet comedy about Ria Parkinson (Wendy Craig) a bored housewife, living in Cheltenham with her butterfly collecting dentist husband Ben (Geoffrey Palmer) and two grown sons Russell (Andrew Hall) and Adam (pre - only fools and horses Nicholas Lyndhurst).

Ria although happily married, feels her life is passing her by, locked in her suburban prison, her only occupation being never ending house work. Being taken for granted by both her husband and sons, when Ria meets by chance, the captivating Leonard Dunn (Bruce Montague) in a local café , it's a question of does Ria love Ben enough to remain faithful to him ?

After reading the above you might be mistaken in thinking that butterflies is heavy going, or full of lies and adultery...its neither! Its highly watch able, truly funny and above all, clever (something that seems to be missing from most modern sitcoms!).

Ok I'll be honest it's not your laugh out loud a minute comedy, it's subtle and more real. The characters don't do sitcom acting or reactions, they keep it grounded which adds to the realistic feel of Butterflies. As you watch you are genuinely torn along with Ria, swapping allegiance between Ben and Leonard, and caught up in the everyday stupidity of family life. I thoroughly enjoyed watching butterflies despite being unsure if it was going to be my kind of program. Butterflies deals with the question of being faithful to your spouse. Its not going to be light and fluffy, but a meaty program, which you can get your teeth into and chew over !
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on 25 July 2017
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on 27 February 2015
Really enjoyed watching this again, fabulous.
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on 14 October 2013
I loved this series when it was first broadcast and was delighted when I heard it was available as a DVD set. The only trouble was I didn't want to stop watching once I put the DVDs on! Delightful stories. This bitter-sweet BBC2 romantic comedy follows the life of frustrated housewife Ria as she contemplates adultery with her friend Leonard to escape the drudgery of her life and the demands of husband Ben and her two sons.
The show, which stars Geoffrey Palmer as the husband and Nicholas Lyndhurst as youngest son Adam, ran between 1978 and 1983 and used Dolly Parton's song 'Love Is Like A Butterfly' as its theme.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 January 2005
I think this opened the eyes of many a housewife (and their families) back in the seventies. Wendy Craig plays Ria, the woman who almost, but not quite, has an affair, despite having a loving family. It's an interesting situation.
Today, Butterflies is a refreshing antidote to the loud, coarse sitcoms that pass for comedy on TV these days. It is instead reflective, philosophical, intelligent.
As much drama as comedy, it is also often very touching and real.
What it would have been without Wendy Craig in the role of Ria is hard to say, but I doubt anybody could imagine it done better. She can express so much with a wry smile or a raised eyebrow. Her memorable ineptitude in all things culinary is a constant source of amusement, but it's never silly, like it so easily could've been.
Also worthy of mention are the rest of the family: gruff Ben the dentist and the youths-in-tight-jeans who strangely (this is never explained) don't seem to have gone to University.
This first series is pretty good. The second is even better. Both DVDs have the same minimal information about the cast and a short interview with Carla Lane. The transfer brings back all the washed-out colour you expected in those days. Perhaps it wasn't our televisions...
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on 4 April 2008
On the plus side Acorn's set of the "complete" Butterflies is relatively complete (unlike the recent The Good Life collection) and contains a good transfer of the four seasons of this seminal TV show. The transfer of the show (which ran from 1978-1983) looks quite good despite its age. There is also an interesting, informative, if too brief interview with Butterflies creator Carla Lane.

On the downside viewers can access the episodes only via a Play All function. There are no links to specific episodes and this is quite annoying. Additionally, the set does not contain the 13 minute reunion of the cast (save for Michael Ripper) for the Beeb's Children in Need aid programme. It should. This points up once again the far too haphazard aspects of many BBC TV box sets. Compare this with the all but the kitchen sink nature of many American TV show box sets. Come on BBC put some effort into it.
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on 8 May 2003
Butterflies really gets into its stride in the second series. Carla Lane gives all the characters extra depth - special mention to Geofrey Palmer for a superbly underplayed performance as Ben. In many ways, the series is at once contemporary and also dated (in the best way) - it can seem to come from another age with the cars, shops, clothes etc. However, this only serves to heighten your enjoyment. Here's hoping series 3 & 4 get a release soon. Just the one moan - is it only me who thinks Ben is by far better bet for Ria?
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on 12 May 2001
Every woman can relate to Rea - whether it is her lack of ability in the kitchen, struggling with her two teenage sons or coping with a husband of many years who firmly believes that a woman's place is in the home. Rea wants more but never quite gets there with Leonard - her "lunch and park" friend.
Butterflies not only paints an interesting picture of 1970's Britain and the changing role of women at that time but it also it raises many questions about marriage - Leonard's failure at it and Rea's need to hold on to it despite, it would seem, that it is not all she wants or dreamt it would be. Definitely a good choice for women - and it may make the man in your life think too - exactly who you are meeting for lunch?
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on 7 April 2003
I remember finding "Butterflies" to be curiously compelling viewing back in the late seventies despite being a fifteen years old and usually more keen on cruder comedy. This across the board appeal is one of this programme's great strengths...despite being anchored in a basically solid middle class background it managed to hook viewers from all across the old "social spectrum". My mum liked it, I liked it and even my dad tolerated it, despite his basic dislike of Wendy Craig as an actress. Craig is in fine form here as the frustrated Ria, married to a decent man that she genuinely loves but unfortunately suffering from a case of extreme boredom. Geoffrey Palmer is as exceptional as ever as husband Ben, a staid and eminently respectable dentist who is bewildered by his wife's eccentricities and his sons' determination not to conform.
These sons( Russell and Adam, the latter played by a pre
Only Fools & Horses Nicholas Lyndhurst ) seem a couple of years behind the times for 1978, but their outlook on life seems to dovetail perfectly with the atmosphere of the programme... quite gentle with one or two strong anarchic undercurrents.
In my humble opinion this is writer Carla Lane's best work by a country mile and deserves to be remembered as a true British comedy classic. It even has its own modern day equivalent in the
patchy but occasionally inspired "My Family". Both chronicle the dysfunctional families of a dentist and are helped by exceptional acting performances from most of the regulars. Butterflies is however the better written of the two.
Buy this and remember the days when the telly was actually sometimes worth watching.
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