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Not one of Eric Chappell's best, but still OK
on 26 March 2013
Eric Chappell was one of the most successful sitcom writers of the 70s/80s, with hit shows including RISING DAMP, ONLY WHEN I LAUGH, DUTY FREE and HOME TO ROOST. For those not in the know, THE BOUNDER was originally broadcast in 1982/83, with the series opening with Howard (Peter Bowles) taking up residence with his sister, Mary (Rosalind Ayres) and her estate agent hubby, Trevor (played by George Cole) after his release from prison after serving time for fraud.
Howard is your archetype cad/conman - a flamboyant individual who schemes and charms his way through life. Staid brother in-law Trevor is often bemused by Howard's antics. Laura (Isla Blair) is the attractive wealthy widow living next door who is frequently subjected to Howard's romantic overtures which usually go wrong....and that basically is that. Actually, for those familiar with Eric Chappell's 'Only When I Laugh', it's very noticeable that the Howard character borrows heavily from the upper-class Archie Glover (also played by Bowles).
What helped to make 'OWIL' so funny was the inclusion of the strong working-class character Roy Figgis (James Bolam)..an interfering busybody who provided the perfect foil for the pompous Glover, as the class war raged on the hospital ward. In 'The Bounder' however, the main characters are homogenous middle-class individuals, which I feel in this case has contributed to a lack of real diversity in the storylines. The humour is very gentle & cosy, which in itself is not an issue but many of the episodes do have a 'samey' feel, with Howard's continual pursuit of Laura, while Trevor is often required to be little more than a victim or innocent observer. The standout episode for me would have to be 'On Approval' in which Howard's efforts to impress Laura with an expensive present go disastrously wrong.
The cast is a great one, with Peter Bowles in particular managing to lift the series with an excellent performance in spite of some pretty static scripts, his character interacts nicely with George Cole's Trevor. There are plenty of scenes to raise a smile but only a few laugh out loud moments. A TV series featuring such a stellar cast deserves at least 3-stars though.
THE BOUNDER only ran for two series, with just fourteen, 25-minute episodes produced. The picture & sound quality on this Network release is generally good. There are no extras or subtitles.