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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 7 May 2001
Porterhouse Blue is a classic comedy drama by Channel 4 based on one of Tom Sharpes funniest novels about an ancient university college in Cambridge, steeped in traditions, most of which are questionable, to say the least. David Jason plays the reactionary Skullion, head porter, employed at the college for 45 years and determined to keep the old place just as it is. Ian Richardson plays the radical new Master, who along with his formidable wife plans to sweep the place clean of its expensive anachronisms and introduce a touch of modernity in the form of contracptive machines, female students and a canteen.
This is very funny; one of the best things Channel 4 ever made. And the whole piece (over 3 hours) is punctuated by the perfect harmonies of the Flying Pickets, singing for the most part accapella and in Latin. Had the sound on this DVD not been a big fat mono, I would've given it a 5. Still, its an absolute treat.
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HALL OF FAMEon 9 August 2007
The master has just died...of a Porterhouse Blue. That is, of a stroke brought on by overindulgence. Long tradition insists that the masters of Porterhouse College name their successors, and that is to be the last man named by a dying master. Porterhouse, a very traditional college in the Cambridge mode of English privileged education, depends on all of its complacent traditions. "You know my view," says the Dean of Porterhouse, "if a little learning is a dangerous thing, just think what harm a lot of it can do." The college is so traditional, in fact, that its rights and privileges haven't changed in centuries. The deans and tutors seem just as ancient. However, the dying master did not name a successor. With no successor, the Prime Minister steps in and chooses a new one...Sir Godber Evans (Ian Richardson), a weak but sly fox of a politician with a wife, Lady Mary (Barbara Jeffords), who is as strong-willed and zealous as an executioner's axe. Sir Godber, however, is about to come up against two bastions of self-satisfied tradition, the Dean (Paul Rogers) and the Senior Tutor (John Woodnutt). But not even in Sir Godber's worst dreamings could he envisage the real defender of Porterhouse tradition...Skullion (David Jason), the head porter, a man who has been a fixture at Porterhouse for 45 years, who knows all the secrets and who keeps lists. Skullion is not a man to be trifled with.

Sir Godber and Lady Mary are determined to haul Porterhouse into the Twentieth Century. Finding that the college is in debt by a million pounds -- it maintains a fine cellar and chef for the High Table -- doesn't seem upsetting to those who have the long view. Take the college Feast, a magnificent affair with cooked, stuffed swans with all their feathers replaced, with the great ox cooked on a spit, whose dripping skeleton is festively paraded about the dining hall to the cheers of all. "Don't you find this a little indulgent? Particularly in the present economic circumstances." says Sir Godber. "Oh, we never bother with 'present economic circumstances'." says the Dean. Chimes in the Senior Tutor, "We find that they tend to go away after fifty years or so."

As Sir Godber and his wife set out to bring women into the college, bring financial order to the budget and bring contraceptive vending machines to the student restrooms, The Dean, the Senior Tutor and the other Fellows plot...and Skullion is just about to have a fit. He knows a gentleman when he sees one, and Sir Godber is not doing what a gentlemen does. He embarks on a campaign to see that Porterhouse traditions will be protected and that he'll be able to keep his job. In this vicious, amusing satire on class snobbery and England's Oxbridge ways, no one is spared and a few even die. In fact, one of the funniest turns of the knife depends at the conclusion on another episode of a Porterhouse Blue.

The program was adapted from the novel by Tom Sharpe, an author who specializes in novels which skewer class pretensions. If you like Evelyn Waugh, you'll probably find Porterhouse Blue a rip. David Jason and Ian Richardson are in great form. And only Britain could come up with such a collection of fine actors able to play the aging protectors of tradition and fine wines. I remember years ago seeing Our Man in Havana and being impressed by Paul Rogers, a man I'd never heard of before, playing a key role amidst the star power of Alec Guinness, Ernie Kovacs, Noel Coward and Ralph Richardson. At 70, Rogers plays the Dean of Porterhouse with great, self-serving style and sly humor. He is one of the many actors in Porterhouse Blue who are, as they say, spot on.

The quality of the DVD transfer is not bad, about what you'd expect from a good VHS tape.
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on 16 June 2017
Superb. David Jason and Ian Richardson at their best, and every other character effective. The reactions and the counter-scheming of the dons in the face of the new Master's, to them, dangerous reforming zeal set up a classic and absorbing clash of opposites. The satire works so well you don't notice the hole in the film's basic premise: how did Hooray Henrys with no qualifications come to be competent to deal with the professional challenges and complexities of government, big business, etc? It hardly seems to matter, so well does the world of Porterhouse work for itself.
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on 26 March 2017
Just as good as I remember it from back in the day but being on video originally, it was a bit 'stretched' and fuzzy looking. Still, you soon get used to the format and forget the weird distortion and enjoy it.
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on 10 March 2017
This always has us laughing until the tears run down! An uproarious comedy which has to be experienced!
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on 24 January 2010
I felt moved to write a review as soon as I saw somebody had given it one star. Admittedly my copy is now several years old but the picture quality is fine, bearing in mind this is a 1980s programme, so you can't expect HD!

What makes this series really stand out is the effort that's gone into creating this mad world of academic eccentrics, totally isolated from real life - "Oh we don't worry about economic crises, we find that they usually go away after fifty years." I've no doubt mangled the quote but it gets the idea across wonderfully. The script, the acting and the direction are perfect.

If you like the idea of an academic backwater forced to confront the Thatcherite realities of the 1980s, then don't hold back. Buy it! I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
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on 2 June 2017
Item arrived safe and sound in excellent condition
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on 7 June 2017
excellent review of student life and the academic world
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on 20 June 2017
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on 5 May 2017
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